Sometimes I stumble upon what I consider to be great apps and I just want to share them with others. Retro Camera by Urbian, Inc is one such app. I’ve tried a number of camera apps out there, and many have done the duty they claim to do, such as produce vintage style photos and such, but none with the UI and fun of Retro Camera. Retro Camera is an app for taking vintage style photos through 4 simulated cameras; The Bärbel, The Little Orange Box, Xolaroid 2000 and finally the Pinhole Camera. Each adds a little style to the photo and they can all be set to color or black & white mode. Again, nothing really revolutionary. So what sets this apart from the rest? It’s just more fun. Let’s begin.
There are currently two versions on the market, Retro Camera (free) and Retro Camera Plus ($2.99). The difference, as you might guess, is the Plus version doesn’t have ads in the app, actually replacing the app area with a nice level while taking photos.
After downloading the app and running it for the first time, you’ll get a nice little intro screen explaining some of the basic functions and actions the user can take. This is a great way to begin an application. Most Android applications I try and use don’t have any in app tutorials, which can be frustrating if it’s a fairly complex app. Retro Camera fits right in the middle. It’s not too complex that it’s confusing, offers 95% of the functionality via on screen interfaces without relying heavily on the Android Menu system, but still offers a one page, quick tutorial of how to run it. Enough that I wasn’t guessing how to do things, but not so much that I got tired of the tutorial.
A simple touch removes the tutorial screen and you are ready to start taking photos. Should you need it again, it’s easily accessed via the Android Menu. At this point you are in the default camera, The Bärbel. From here you can just right in a start taking photos by tapping the Shutter button, or you can review the information about the camera by pressing Info. You can switch cameras and finally if you’d like to review your photos, tapping the Gallery button brings up Retro Camera’s built in gallery. Some of the cameras have a color or B&W option on screen, some, such as The Bärbel only do color.
Above is an example of the info screen for each camera type. All four have a unique info screen that explains a little about the camera. Personally I just jumped right in and started snapping photos, I’m impatient like that, but I like the attention to details and the little extra effort to make a truly fun app. You can also see I’m running the free version at this time, so it’s ad supported, but the Plus version is a definite on my list.
Let’s change the camera type. Simply tap the camera button in the lower right corner and it will bring up the camera selection page. Use your finger and swipe to scroll left or right to view each camera. Before selecting the camera you want to use, you have the option of reading the Info page, as shown above, or just selecting the camera.
To test out the different cameras, I shot the same seen on all four cameras. After shooting the photos, you can go into the Gallery page and view the results. If you recently shot a photo it may take up to a minute or so to process the photo, you can take another photo immediately, it will just queue up the photos for processing. During that time, if you go into the Gallery page, you’ll be presented with the little “Darkroom Occupied” image below indicating the number of prints in the queue:
Once the app has finished the processing of your photos, you’ll be presented with the gallery page with your last ten shots hanging from a print drying line. It’s very nostalgic to see them hanging there.
Again, using your finger you can swipe left or right to scroll through your photos. Of course, you can also view your photos in your standard Android Gallery app as well, Retro Camera simply provides for an old school look and feel.
Overall, I appreciate the detail the developer has gone into with this application. It feels refined, it feels like they spent some time coming up with an idea that isn’t just another camera app, but something that makes it fun and interesting to use. Even their app icon feels refined.
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