On 17 June it will be 66 years since Polaroid first patented its instant film and ushered in a new era of amateur photography. Today, the digital camera has almost completely replaced film for all but the most dedicated professionals and hobbyists but many snappers still look back on analogue cameras with nostalgic affection.
It isn't that these old cameras take better photographs – rather that some old film stock and cameras have a certain feel, as well as flaws and imperfections that give photos a distinct and appealing character. That's why smart devices such as the GALAXY Note 8.0 and GALAXY S4 can not only take the pin-sharp images you'd expect from Samsung, but can also emulate the quirks and effects of almost any camera, given the right apps…
Built-in on the GALAXY S4 and the Note 8.0
Let's start with the built-in Camera apps on the GALAXY S4 and the Note 8.0. Firstly, for retro-tastic action on the Note 8.0, select the Effects menu by tapping the magic wand icon, which lets you flip between black-and-white, sepia tones and inverted (negative-style) colours. Sepia is a straightforward route to an 'old fashioned'-looking photo and you can easily tweak the exposure level to achieve the effect you're looking for. You can also achieve some interesting effects by going into Settings and choosing the 'wrong' Scene Mode for your surroundings – such as Candlelight in a sunny outdoor environment.
For retro photo fun on the S4 Camera app you simply tap the little right-facing arrow (>) that sits in on the centre-left of the screen to open up a bevy of retro-friendly filters including Vignette, Grey-Scale, Sepia Vintage, Faded color, Turquoise, Tint, Cartoon, Moody, Rugged, Oil Pastel and (our current favourite) Fisheye.
Though not the first vintage camera app, Instagram has caught the public imagination more than any alternative. Compared to some of its rivals (see below), it might seem a little basic, but its strengths lie in its sharing features, which make it as much of a social network as a photography tool.
A choice of 20 filters can give your pictures a retro look or a radical overhaul. Some wash-out the image with light and colour or shift the contrast to make things dark and moody; others add warmth or the impression of endless summer; and a few just look like there is something wrong with your grandad's box camera.
Compared to Instagram's narrow range of easy-to-use options, this is the everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink of camera apps, combining multiple special effects, collages, level adjustments, tilt-shifting and image distortion (fisheye, pinch-out, twirl, etc), all of which can be layered on top of each other for some truly arresting results.
It's not just for serious photo artists, though: you can also download a range of 'Goodies' such as footballs and hats to insert into images, and even 'Buddies' including the Queen or Angelina Jolie to add some surrealism and/or celebrity glamour to your snaps!
Despite its name, this app seeks to emulate several different makes of camera, including a Polaroid and a Holga, as well as the iconic Lomo itself. And once you've selected your camera type, you can also specify some other options such as a fisheye lens or 'old film'.
The effects are simple but can be combined in various ways to give you several different options for framing a photograph. It's not quite the same as owning a real Holga or Diana F+ but you can achieve 'light bleeds' and other imperfections that come pretty darned close to the real thing.
Like having a huge camera bag full of professional gear, this tasty app lets you choose from nine cameras and eight film stocks, each represented by an easy-to-recognise icon as part of the intuitive scrolling interface.
The cameras range from a basic point-and-shoot to an exotic, multi-lensed gadget for capturing moving objects in a mosaic of multiple shots, while films take in dazzle, vignetting, noir, vivid, and blue and brown hues.
This app is a simple way to turn new or existing photos into great-looking imitation Polaroids. Simply take a pic, or select one from the Gallery, and Roidizer will crop it into a square and apply an authentic-looking Polaroid frame, with space to label your snaps in a choice of six different fonts.
You can adjust the colour levels and contrast for each image with a range of film effects (presented in a fun and intuitive format designed to resemble film stock boxes), with the option to deactivate auto-focus in app, for a bit of retro blur.
At first glance, this photo-editing app has only a handful of options for adding effects in three categories: film, lighting and flames. But dig a little deeper and you'll find that the app has its own 'store' where you can add more for free.
Some of these effects can turn even the most basic snaps into something special and, with a bit of practice and experimental layering of different effects, you can achieve something approaching a real work of art.
As the name suggests, Pic Paint is an app for painting over your pictures. You can use your fingertip or, if you're a Note 8.0 user, the extra precision of the S Pen. Retro stylings can be added using the Pic Wiz function, which (among other effects) can apply a colour wash or a 'toy camera' look to your chosen photographs.
Though primarily intended for adding fun captions and graphics to images (you can paint speech bubbles and musical notes with ease, for example), a little experimentation can yield surprisingly subtle results, such as translucent shading or the excision of unwanted details.
This feature-packed photo-retoucher works well with finger or S Pen input, with plenty of free effects to achieve a vintage look. It's also packed with image retouching tools such as redeye and blemish removal, adjustable image sharpness and colour saturation.
Should you tire of the free functionality, there are also downloadable effects packs available from as little as £0.61, while packs of frames and stickers include some fetching Victorian Moustaches, should you want to go REALLY retro.
Our last photo-editor marries a highly intuitive interface with a wide range of precision filters for an array of vintage effects. Sliding your finger (or the S Pen) from left to right across an image determines the degree to which an effect is applied, giving very fine control compared to many similar tools.
Easy-to-use tools include a range of vintage film filters, 'drama' and 'grunge' effects, tilt-shifting to simulate depth of field, white balance, saturation, contrast and more. Effects can be layered and there are multiple levels of undo if you get a bit overenthusiastic.