Hipstamatic iPhone camer app

Hipstamatic vs Instagram – which is the better iPhone photography app?

Posted in Apps on 02/02/2011 by Frank Prendergast

10s

Hipstamatic iPhone camer app

When it comes to iPhoneography, the vintage look seems to be the fad that isn’t going away. Everybody is obsessed with having their iPhone photos look like old school photos from the sixties and seventies.

There are a lot of apps out there that will apply filters to your shots, but there are two clear front runners when it comes to the vintage look – Hipstamatic and Instagram. So which is better? The truth is these apps have quite different focusses, with a small overlap… here’s the lowdown:

Hipstamatic

Photo taken with HipstamaticHipstamatic has been around since 2009 and is extremely an extremely popular app – Apple even named it app of the year for 2010. Hipstamatic is a camera app in the most traditional sense possible, when you launch the app the interface emulates a camera – the creators of Hipstamatic claim it was inspired by an actual plastic camera with changeable lenses, but this may have in fact been clever marketing and completely made up.

With Hipstamatic you cannot edit photos that were not taken using the app – while some find this to be a limiting feature, I think part of the charm of the app is the integrity with which they stick to the camera metaphor. Because of the strict metaphor you take your shot and you get a result – your choices are made prior to shooting, there is no post production to be done and the results are often great.

What really sets Hipstamatic apart from the myriads of lesser vintage look apps is the quality of the filters. The app has several ‘lenses’ available, each one giving a different vintage look, with some ‘films’ and ‘flashes’ also available to tweak the effects. You can see a comparison chart of all the combinations here.

I have yet to find an app with a better set of filters than Hipstamatic, and although I have a fair few photography apps at this stage, Hipstamatic remains an app I return to frequently. Hipstamatic costs €1.59 and comes with 3 lenses, 2 films and 3 flashes. You can buy more “Hipstapacks” for €0.79.

You can also order great quality prints from within the app, and share your prints to FaceBook, Flickr or Tumblr.

The app is beautifully designed, but does take a little bit of getting used to and because there are plenty of features accessed through the visual metaphor of a vintage camera it can be a little fiddly to use – just like the real deal.

Instagram

Photo taken with Instagram by Phil CampbellInstagram is a newer app, launched in October of 2010, but by December they already had over a million registered users.

Although Instagram allows you to take pictures, and apply vintage effects, if you visit the Instagram site you will see their tagline is “Fast beautiful photo sharing for your iPhone”. Instagram is primarily an app to integrate your photos with your social media presence.

Instagram is a community and photo sharing space in it’s own right, but currently they do not have a web profile for users – your photos are viewed and accessed via the Instagram app by other iPhone users. It does look like web profiles are being developed, but the main feature of the app is that it is super easy to share photos to Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Posterous, FaceBook and Foursquare.

The interface is clear and really easy to use, feels very zippy and is generally a pleasure to interact with.

Instagram allows you to find people to follow by looking through your friends on FaceBook or Twitter so you can very quickly have a stream of your friends photos to peruse, “like” and comment on.

The filters that come with Instagram are almost all vintage photo type filters, some of which are nice enough, but not nearly close to the same quality as Hipstamatic.

One thing to be aware of is that Instagram creates images that are 612pixels by 612pixels. You can pull higher res images from your camera roll into Instagram to share, but they will be converted to 612×612.

If you are using Instagram as a camera it is possible to choose to have the app save the original photo (as it would look if taken with the default camera app) as well as the Instagram 612×612 version but the photos shared via Instagram will always by 612×612.

612×612 is fine for fast sharing on the web, which is what Instagram is focussed on, but would not be great for printing. To give you a comparison Hipstamatic shots are 1536×1536.

Of course, the other big feature Instagram has on it’s side is that it’s free…!

So, in summary…

If you’re into photography on the iPhone you will want to own Hipstamatic, it gives you dependable results with a vintage feel at print quality.

Instagram is really more about social media and interaction, it gives you the ability to quickly share a moment with your online friends, but the image is screen quality only.

Hipstamatic

  • Beautiful vintage filters
  • Hi res setting available
  • Ability to order (very nice quality) prints
  • €1.79 for basic app
  • Share photos to Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr
  • Can be a little fiddly to use

Instagram

  • Fun vintage filters
  • Lo res images
  • Not suitable for printing
  • Free!
  • Share to Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Posterous, FaceBook and Foursquare.
  • Quick and easy to use

When it comes to iPhoneography, the vintage look seems to be the fad that isn’t going away. Everybody is obsessed with having their iPhone photos look like old school photos from the sixties and seventies.

There are a lot of apps out there that will apply filters to your shots, but there are two clear front runners when it comes to the vintage look – Hipstamatic and Instagram. So which is better? The truth is these apps have quite different focusses, with a small overlap… here’s the lowdown:

Hipstamatic

Hipstamatic has been around since 2009 and is extremely an extremely popular app – Apple even named it app of the year for 2010. Hipstamatic is a camera app in the most traditional sense possible, when you launch the app the interface emulates a camera – the creators of Hipstamatic claim it was inspired by an actual plastic camera with changeable lenses, but this may have in fact been clever marketing and completely made up.

With Hipstamatic you cannot edit photos that were not taken using the app – while some find this to be a limiting feature, I think part of the charm of the app is the integrity with which they stick to the camera metaphor. Because of the strict metaphor you take your shot and you get a result – your choices are made prior to shooting, there is no post production to be done and the results are often great.

What really sets Hipstamatic apart from the myriads of lesser vintage look apps is the quality of the filters. The app has several ‘lenses’ available, each one giving a different vintage look, with some ‘films’ and ‘flashes’ also available to tweak the effects. You can see a comparison chart of all the combinations here.

I have yet to find an app with a better set of filters than Hipstamatic, and although I have a fair few photography apps at this stage, Hipstamatic remains an app I return to frequently. Hipstamatic costs €1.59 and comes with 3 lenses, 2 films and 3 flashes. You can buy more “Hipstapacks” for €0.79.

You can also order great quality prints from within the app, and share your prints to FaceBook, Flickr or Tumblr.

The app is beautifully designed, but does take a little bit of getting used to and because there are plenty of features accessed through the visual metaphor of a vintage camera it can be a little fiddly to use – just like the real deal.

Instagram

Instagram is a newer app, launched in October of 2010, but by December they already had over a million registered users.

Although Instagram allows you to take pictures, and apply vintage effects, if you visit the Instagram site you will see their tagline is “Fast beautiful photo sharing for your iPhone”. Instagram is primarily an app to integrate your photos with your social media presence.

Instagram is a community and photo sharing space in it’s own right, but currently they do not have a web profile for users – your photos are viewed and accessed via the Instagram app by other iPhone users. It does look like web profiles are being developed, but the main feature of the app is that it is super easy to share photos to Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Posterous, FaceBook and Foursquare.

The interface is clear and really easy to use, feels very zippy and is generally a pleasure to interact with.

Instagram allows you to find people to follow by looking through your friends on FaceBook or Twitter so you can very quickly have a stream of your friends photos to peruse, “like” and comment on.

The filters that come with Instagram are almost all vintage photo type filters, some of which are nice enough, but not nearly close to the same quality as Hipstamatic.

One thing to be aware of is that Instagram creates images that are 612pixels by 612pixels. You can pull higher res images from your camera roll into Instagram to share, but they will be converted to 612×612.

If you are using Instagram as a camera it is possible to choose to have the app save the original photo (as it would look if taken with the default camera app) as well as the Instagram 612×612 version but the photos shared via Instagram will always by 612×612.

612×612 is fine for fast sharing on the web, which is what Instagram is focussed on, but would not be great for printing. To give you a comparison Hipstamatic shots are 1536×1536.

Of course, the other big feature Instagram has on it’s side is that it’s free :)

So, in summary…

If you’re into photography on the iPhone you will want to own Hipstamatic, it gives you dependable results with a vintage feel at print quality.

Instagram is really more about social media and interaction, it gives you the ability to quickly share a moment with your online friends, but the image is screen quality only.

Hipstamatic

  • Beautiful vintage filters
  • Hi res setting available
  • Ability to order (very nice quality) prints
  • €1.79 for basic app
  • Share photos to Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr
  • Can be a little fiddly to use

Instagram

  • Fun vintage filters
  • Lo res images
  • Not suitable for printing
  • Free!
  • Share to Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Posterous, FaceBook and Foursquare.
  • Quick and easy to use


  • paulmwatson

    Good post, thanks. I prefer to do vintage effects in Photoshop and I like the social side of Instagram so I think I'll go with that.

  • frankprendergast

    Thanks Paul, yeah if you edit your photos in photoshop it makes sense, Instagram is a pleasure to use for sharing. For anyone else reading this I was mentioning to Paul on Twitter to be sure to go to Settings -> Instagram and turn on "Save original photo". This will ensure you're not just stuck with a 612×612 image if you shoot from within Instagram.

  • Lauren

    Thanks, this is an informative review!

  • Luminouslightphoto

    why would you print them from hipstamatic its from a phone so its not going to be great in the first place! instagrams much better :)

    • http://twitter.com/frankiep Frank Prendergast

      I have had some very lovely prints made from Hipstamatic 7×7 inches, they look great. The resolution from Instagram wouldn’t give you the same quality.

  • http://twitter.com/HipstamaticSex Hipstamatic Sex

    hipstamatic is a real time process of something you are living…instagram is a post production application with a puritan community that kill one of the base of photography: nude!
    http://hipstamaticsex.tumblr.com/

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  • http://www.facebook.com/pasha.seagull Pasha Seagull

    Well, I use instagram. Because  you can take ONLY vintage pics in Hipstamatic,and those filters quickly get bored to me. While in Instagram you can upload whatever style of photos you want. Vintage, Clear etc. Depends of what you want to see in a result. I rarely use instagram filters, for me it’s just great social-photo-network to share photos edited in others apps.

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Frank Prendergast

Author

Frank Prendergast

Frank loves using his iPhone as a camera & photo editor - if you have any tips on cool photo apps or processes, or just want to share your cool iPhoneography please drop Frank an email. Frank offers web design in Cork (Ireland) and also loves WordPress and the Rockford Files.