Why I Love Hipstamatic

Do you have an iPhone?

Do you agree that the iPhone’s camera is a bag of dicks?

Let me whisper one word into your ear:


The Hipstamatic app transforms your iPhone camera into generating faux-vintage and fake-ass-retro shots.

For example:

Hipstamatic Goodness 1

See? Faux Polaroid.

Hipstamatic is:


The app doesn’t just do one “thing.” You can change the lens, the film, and the flash. Sure, okay, you’re not really changing the lens, film and flash, because the iPhone has none of these things. But what you are doing is changing the filters for each photo. You are in turn discovering an unholy host of new combinations. (Random question: why does my spellchecker accept “combination,” but not “combinations?” Hrrm.)

For example, this creepy-ass shot:

Grudge Baby Stands Vigil Over Jesus And His Mom

Uses the following combo: John S (lens), Ina’s 1969 (film) and Berry Pop (flash).

This far less spooky snap…

Koi So Hungry

Uses the Helga Viking (lens), Ina’s 1935 (film) and Laser Lemon Gel (flash).

Easy To Use

It’s actually easier to use in some ways than the iPhone camera itself (in part because the button takes up larger real estate, so it’s easier to find and hit if you’re not looking at the screen). Plus, changing the options is a breeze: the app simulates a real camera, so you “flip” the camera, and swipe to change lens, film or flash. Or! Or, you can shake the phone to get a random selection.

Though, I should note: it’s not so crazy easy. You only get a very small window to see what you might be capturing (but this is, I feel, by design). This leads to…


You never really know what you’re going to get out of the app. Especially when you randomize it. It doesn’t seem to take a perfect dead-on shot of whatever you’re looking at — in fact, I’d suggest that the app has a mind of its own, because it quite often captures images and effects you didn’t necessarily expect. Sometimes, they can be quite trippy, as this image exemplifies:

Hipstamatic Goodness 2

In fact, that is the same view as captured by the first image in this post, but with a different set of filters.

I especially like using the randomize function. In fact, it’s pretty much how I take 95% of all the shots. You can end up with some spectacular and unexpected results this way. This shot:

Vintage Retro Now

…looks retro and vintage, but was taken on our Hawaii vacation just a couple weeks ago. I mean, seriously, doesn’t it look like a postcard from Old Hawaii? A shot from the 60s or 70s? Nope. From 2010, baby.

Cool As Shit

You will want to show this off to friends. You will impress them. And they will give you money. And heap garlands of laurels around your head and neck. And have awesome sex with you. True story!

Weirdly Authentic

This is perhaps my favoritest reason of all to use Hipstamatic: with my DSLR, I’m capturing the facts of what I’m looking at (color, sharpness, arrangement), but not necessarily the authenticity of the scene. See, the DSLR captures a snapshot in time, but really, photos are also about memories. And memories are gauzy, strange, bound by uncertain margins. Hipstamatic captures this both elegantly and messily: it grabs a weird glimpse, infuses it with that gauzy and uncertain sensibility. It isn’t about precision. It doesn’t care about the right colors or the perfect detail. It cares more about feel. Which is pretty awesome.

It’s like this. This shot, of Waimea Canyon…

Waimea Canyon

…was taken with the DSLR. I like it. I like it a lot. But this shot:

Waimea Canyon, Down Into The Valley, The Winding Serpent

…captures how I felt about Waimea Canyon. That day was hot and hazy and bleary at times, and I almost like the details in the Hipstamatic version better.

This isn’t universal. I took shots at the Hanalei Lookout…

Hanalei Lookout

Hanalei Lookout: Taro Fields

And I personally like the DSLR shot better. The north shore is all about the color, the lushness, the pop, and the DSLR’s shot of the taro fields does that (to me) a lot better. That’s how I remember it.

Like Crack, If Crack Were Also Made Of Meth

Hipstamatic is pretty cheap, and also cheap are the new filters they release for you to buy. Usually a packet of new filters is $0.99, and it’s so worth it. I am addicted to Hipstamatic, for reals. I love, love, love to use it. I carry my iPhone everywhere (duh), and it’s easy to whip out when walking to the mailbox or wandering through the mall or burying hookers in shallow graves. The DSLR is a lovely device, but bulky as hell — okay, get out the case, pick a lens, detach, attach, strap around neck, set the settings, find the shot, snore, ZZZzzz, poop noise. This is why, walking around San Francisco, I did not once whip out the DSLR. Never even took it out of the hotel room. Every shot in San Franwacky was taken using Hipstamatic.

I couldn’t help myself. I still can’t.

Hi, my name’s Chuck Wendig, and I am a Hipstamaddict.


  • I am, I’m afraid, a dirty Android user, but I have found that the basic Android Camera app to be an even LARGER bag of dicks.

    BUT, if anyone else is a filthy Android user, I highly recommended Camera 360. It comes in both free and non-free format. I’m still toying with all of its shiny powers, but it can do some of the stuff you mention about Hipstamatic. More importantly, it actually, you know, allows me to take pictures. Just regular pictures without EXPLODING.

  • Guess what? Even bettah apps for Android devices! In fact, you have inspired me to write about my love on Vignette. I toy agree with you: oftentimes, low-find and retro somehow captures how things *feel*.

  • All those gauzy, ethereal reasons are why I actually own old Polaroids and Diana clones. (Of course, if you think the DSLR is bulky…I’ve been known to drag around 1960s Land cameras.)
    On the other hand, I wish the CrackBerry came with a decent camera. I can’t type things without an actual keyboard.

  • Yep Hipstamatic is a blast to play with, it is my 2nd favorite photography app on the iPhone. My go to app is TiltShiftGen, even if I am not using the blur feature, the levels sliders and Vignetting let me tweak shit to interesting effect. Lo-Mob is another good one, lots of available filters built in 🙂

  • i only just recently got into this app as I’m new to iphone, but boy it feels like it would be worth buying the iphone just for this, as ridiculous as that may sound. There are other apps out there that do similar things but Hipstamatic has some voodoo magic sparkle that the competition lacks. It injects so much personality into each shot, I can’t get enough. Its very popular as well, which is kind of a turn off as before you know it EVERYONE will get clued up on this, but thankfully if you’re a good photographer with an eye for detail, your prowess still shines through the shots compared to someone that is just randomly snapping anything and everything.

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