By Graham K. Rogers
When I look at new apps, I often go with my instincts and first impressions. It is pretty hard to come up with new ideas in apps nowadays, but TinType by Hipstamatic is a basic image adjustment app with old-style output that felt right from the word go.
As I start any new app, I look at the design, the opening screen, the intuitiveness. My gut feeling when I first tried TinType by Hipstamatic was positive. My reaction, "Oh". . . I immediately liked what the app did, although it is quite simple. This lack of complexity is a plus.
The original tin-type photos were made by coating a metal surface with chemicals. The results were not perfect, particularly when compared to more sophisticated photographic paper that was eventually produced. They are still produced by some specialists. They are likely to less than perfect, but they are unique. The TinType app (now shown as $0.99) seeks to reproduce the effect and I think the output has a certain charm.
When first opened, the user is shown camera input, but there is also the choice of input from the Photo Library. I worked initially with the library only. As an image is imported, it is displayed in monochrome with heavy graining and a frame that looks like damaged paper.
Four tools at the bottom of the screen allow for adjustments to be made:
- Style and Crop, allows the user to switch from the default monochrome to a nicely faded color effect or sepia. There are two options for cropping: square or rectangular. Not all images work in some crop styles, so this should be selected carefully.
- Grain and Frame has a slider to adjust the amount of grain used. By default this is at 50%. Sliding to the left reduces grain; and to the right grain is increased. A percentage is displayed on the image as the slider is used. Frame toggles the damaged paper effect on or off.
- Eyes may not be available for all images. A landscape or still life photo shows, "Eyes not found" when this is selected. When a face is used as photo, a slider is used to enhance "eye intensity. This tool may not be available for some face images, depending on how the app identifies the image. Left reduces the intensity and right increases. In practice I found that the area around the eyes was whitened so that the eyes stood out more when the full effect was applied. Use wisely.
- Depth of field, worked perhaps better with some landscape shots, blurring the edges and allowing a viewer to focus on the centre of the photograph.
At any time, I was able to cancel the editing, but first was giving an option either to Discard all changes or continue editing. When editing was complete and I used Save, I was offered options: Save as Version (keeping the original); or Save as Copy. When saving was done, I was offered export options: Instagram or more (depending on apps installed). The Version was considerably smaller and metadata was not shown: revert to original fixed that.
I was already pleased with TinType, but then I checked in Photos and was able to add this as an extension (More). The full range of tools was then available to me directly within Photos.
The iPad was a little different. This app is not optimised for the larger devices and clearly says"iPhone Only" in the information. When I found it, I tried on the iPad Air 2 first, but the opening panel only showed me input from the camera. When I tapped where the photo library link should be, I was able to see some of the images, but when imported for adjustments, the app crashed: iPhone Only, remember.
The same happened when I tried the 9.7" iPad Pro, but I did add the app as an extension in Photos and it worked fine. As far as I can tell, even though it it not designed for iPad use, it works when used this way.
While the output from this app may have a limited appeal, and has a small cost ($2.99), the unusual effects that a user can produce - quite quickly - make this rather a good choice for certain uses. Like some of the easy to use controls here, this app is a good demonstration of the idea that "Less is more".
TinType by Hipstamatic is highly recommended
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Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.