Instagram kicked off the trend for vintage-style mobile photography back in 2010 and since then photo filter apps have been a pretty big business.
While filtered photos seemed to solely belong on Instagram for a time, now there are plenty of people who want to enjoy the retro-style photography without the social media aspect.
Base – Film Stock Camera (aka Base) for iOS is one of the most recent examples of how that can be done. It’s a simple alternative for your phone’s native camera that specializes in retro imagery. At $0.99, it’s one of the few paid editing apps I have downloaded, but I don’t regret it.
When you’re shooting with Base, you can view your image through fourteen live filters. Of course, your iPhone’s camera lets you do this already but its functionality leaves a lot to be desired and you can’t swap between filters easily. With Base, you just swipe left or right to see the different filters à la Snapchat.
What Base did for me was replace my iOS camera, which I was still using as my primary shooter. The interface is simple and it’s very straightforward to use, partly because of its similarity to the iPhone’s native camera.
You will see that the viewfinder is what takes up most of the screen and the toggles in the top right and left corners let you swap between your front and rear camera or turn the flash on and off.
The lack of focus and exposure controls is a little disappointing, but you can do the usual tap to focus, which is sufficient in most cases. I haven’t had any photos come out badly as a result of the oversight.
I mentioned that the interface is similar to the native camera app, but it does come with some neat extras that set it apart. There are 15 dots under the viewfinder that indicate the different filters available. All you need to do is slide your finger along the dots to choose which old-school film overlay you’d like to use.
The risk with an app like this is that the filters are too strong and detract from the overall image. Base gets it just right with a decent selection that are all subtle enough not to hinder the photo. A neat feature that sets Base apart from rival apps, is that the filters ‘age’ with time, like film camera. They become more faded and subtly adjust the more you use the app.
All of the images taken using the app are automatically saved to your Camera Roll and you can open your photo albums directly within the app as well through an image icon in the bottom left corner.
And if you fancy editing the images a little more, you can export the photos to the editor of your choice using the in-app share button as well. As with almost every camera app, you can also share the photos to your social profiles.
While I have still been using my native camera from the unlock screen when I want to snap something quickly, I’ve used Base for the photos I have anticipated more, like at events or when I’m out with friends.
It’s a beautifully simple app that’s worth keeping around if you appreciate the subtlety of film photography, and the aging film feature makes it stand out from the crowd.