The Great Hipstamatic

West Loop snow traffic

I’ve been having entirely too much fun with the Hipstamatic iPhone application1. I’ve taken over two hundred snapshots in the first 48 hours2: a pace that probably won’t last, but for now, I’m enthusiastically exploring the capabilities of the camera.

Turns out there was an actual plastic 35 mm camera called the Hipstamatic, with an interesting back story. The inventors are unfortunately deceased3, but their older brother has created a blog to tell their story, and the story of the iPhone app.

Founders: Bruce and Winston Dorbowski
Founded: November 1982 (Unofficially, as in no lawyers)
Location: Merrill, Wisconsin, USA

The Idea: Bring people a camera that cost less than the film. Bruce had a Russian plastic camera that our father gave him as a Christmas gift in 1972. The camera had since broke and was no longer being made or sold, at least anywhere he could find it. So Bruce and Winston came up with a plan to recreate something similar. Winston had fallen in love with his Kodak Instamatic and that was the start of the Hipstamatic.

Camera Specs
Model: 100
Material: Plastic Body, Plastic Lens
Produced: 1982-84
Type: View finder camera
Lens: Hipsta A1
Film: 35mm
Picture Size: 28mm x 28mm
Original Cost: $8.25
Focus: Automatic
Aperture: 2.8
Flash: hot shoe

[Click to continue reading The Great Hipstamatic 100]

I never owned my own Hipstamatic, but the iPhone app seems like a pretty good simulacrum, even going so far as to force you to use a tiny little viewfinder to frame your shot.

the camera takes a second to warm up (well, at least it pretends to be warming up the transistors), also ‘turning on the flash’ takes a few moments. Can’t take rapid-fire photos, in other words. I’ve missed a few shots because of this, but I suppose it’s part of the game, yo. And since there is no flash on an iPhone, I’m guessing turning on the flash just adds a bit of randomly controlled coloration to the image.

changing lens, film, flash is as easy as a swipe of the finger…

My other complaint about the application is that the cost doesn’t include some extras like this film, for instance. The application could have been priced a couple of dollars more and included. Not that big of a deal really, mostly annoyed me because my iPhone password is fairly robust and includes a lot of typing, numbers, capital letters, etc. I bet the $1.99 initial price spurs sales though.

Once your image has been “developed”, you can either email it, or upload it to Facebook. I’m happy with these options, as I usually upload iPhone snapshots to Flickr via the email-to-Twitter option. Alternatively, the image is saved in your iPhone photo library for you to sync to your computer or whatever else you normally would do. I chose to email via the Hipstamatic application interface as Hipstamatic then records what lens, film, flash is used4

I have bought a few other iPhone camera apps5, none have been nearly as much fun to use as The Great Hipstamatic.

  1. available here, if you have an iPhone that is []
  2. though only uploaded a handful []
  3. killed entirely too young by a drunk driver []
  4. for instance, the photo at the top of the page used Lens: John S / Film: Float /Flash: Off. []
  5. Best Camera and CameraBag are the two I’ve used the most []

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