Before Instagram’s success, Hipstamatic was the first really popular vintage/toy camera.
Its philosophy, though, has always been unique, and can be described as “Lomography applied to the digital age”: Hipstamatic does not let you edit existing photos, it does not let you change the filter once the photo has been taken. You have to pick in advance the combination of lens, film and flash (maybe even randomize it by shaking the device) and then… “don’t think, just shoot”. The app will take care of the photo, develop it and save it to your library for you to enjoy it. The results can be stunning.
The quality of the filters has contributed to make Hipstamatic an instant hit, and there is a big online community of aficionados that provide guides, tutorials and apps that lets you fully understand the app, guide you in the choice of lenses and films.
Unfortunately, in the past year, things have not been so good: many updates have been so buggy and crash-prone that the app had become barely usable, and the packs that have been released do not live up to Hipstamatic’s magic.
Something seem to have improved recently, and I have been able to use the app without crashes since one of the latest releases. So, I might decide to start using Hipstamatic again.
This is the main interface: you have a low-middle-high resolution switch (high-res images take more to “develop”), a multi-exposure selector and a flash switch. Tapping the star button you’ll have access to your favorite combos, while the “turn around” bottom gives you access to the camera bag.
If you tap the viewfinder, it gets blown-up to full screen. Tap it again to shoot. Beware: in the spirit of classic toy cameras, the viewfinder is by default set to be “unprecise”. You have to modify a setting if you want to have precision framing.
You have the option to pick two kind of flashes: software (a filter is applied) and hardware (the iPhone camera led). Usually the second one doesn’t work too well with Hipstamatic’s textures, so think twice before activating it.
The multiple exposure switch (on the top left) is something new: by tapping it, you overlap multiple shots into one photo. Of course, being this true to Hipstamatic’s philosophy, you won’t be able to change your mind later, and you won’t see the result until the photo is developed.
The camera bag section is where you pick your tools: you can change the lens from this interface, to pick films and lenses you have to tap their buttons.
In the store you can buy or download new packs. They are not usually free (some are, though), and they might be available only for short periods. Packs can include different combinations of lenses, films and flashes. For each one of them you can get a short explanation and some previews.
Once a print is developed, you can access it from the HipstaPrints Gallery:
In conclusion, Hipstamatic is a great app that can still produce some of the bests results you can get out of your phone. You have, though, to embrace its unique philosophy… and hope that all the bugs that have affected the app recently have finally been left behind for good!