Developer: haiyan wang
Price: Free or $10/£10 for Pro
It’s kind of funny that while iPhone cameras get better and better, with results that nudge ever closer to modern high-end digital cameras, there’s a parallel trend for iOS apps that emulate the flawed film cameras of yesteryear.
The grainy, boxy, washed-out look of vintage snaps have become desirable in the Instagram era. But apps like Dazz Cam Vintage Camera go a little deeper than slapping on a black and white filter.
Here the idea is to approach your shot with a distinct vintage camera lens in mind. Rather than merely adding the effect to your shots in post-production, the app encourages you to frame it and shoot it accordingly.
There are 13 vintage camera replicas for stills and six for video included with the fully unlocked Pro version of the app, and they cover quite a lot of ground. On the video front you get the likes of VHS, 16mm, and 8mm options among others. On the photo front, there are such oddities as a pleasingly lurching 3D camera and a rudimentary split camera alongside the more conventional vintage grainy selection.
Each camera gets its own faithful frame in the viewfinder, so you’ll find yourself composing the shot quite naturally. On a couple of photo cameras, you also get the option of taking and superimposing two photos for a double exposure effect.
In addition to the cameras, you’ll get a small selection of accessory modifiers, from flashes to fisheye lenses. You can also add a degree of random light leaks and time stamps to stills, and alter the frame rate for videos.
While the results from these individual cameras can be pleasing, Dazz Cam’s main issue relates to its clunky UI and general lack of intuitiveness. For example, only five of the photo cameras are included with the free tier, and just one of the video cameras. You’ll need to pay $10/£10 for a full unlock, or around half that for a yearly subscription. Alternatively, you can pay a smaller amount to unlock individual cameras.
You can quibble about the pricing structure, but this is largely subjective. What we really take issue with is how unclear it is which of these lenses is free and which is in the paid tier. There’s no indication until you tap on the camera, only to be greeted by a purchase prompt. On the plus side, it’s possible to test each camera, which amounts to letting you take – but not store – an image with the chosen filter.
Even aside from this Free/Pro delineation issue, the selection screen for the cameras feels clunky, forcing you into portrait from the landscape viewfinder. You’re forced to view the predominantly landscape images in portrait too. It all lacks a little finesse.
Dazz Cam provides some appealing tools for creating unique stills and videos with a pronounced vintage-with-a-twist effect. It’s a shame that the interface feels similarly creaky – or is that all part of the charm?