A few weeks ago we mentioned the arrival of a new photo app by the developers of Wood Camera—Bright Mango—called Viewmatic. Wood Camera was basically Instagram on steroids, offering a more in depth photo editing experience, just without the social networking aspect (as in followers and a feed). So when I heard that Viewmatic was another camera app with filters, I wasn’t really sure want to expect, at first I thought, why make another app that’s virtually the same? However, I was wrong in my assumption, Viewmatic isn’t an app for taking picture with filters, in fact, it’s not even a photo taking app.
Viewmatic is basically an editing app to further improve or customize (stylize) your existing photographs. Creators John Barnett and Zach Garrett are photographers, and they wanted to bring more than just filters to viewmatic, they wanted to bring some old camera nostaliga to the app. Together, the two partners searched all over the US, from antique stores to garage sales looking for old cameras so that they could model their “viewfinders” for use in Viewmatic. You see, Viewmatic basically puts old viewfinders on top of your images (along with filters) to give your views a sense of looking through an old camera.
The team has done an admirable job, adding 20 different viewfinders to the app, aside from just coloring filters, some of these viewfinders give your images imperfections, like scratches. Once you’re finished “re-creating” your photo, you can share it with a plethora of social networks, from Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Don’t get me wrong, I love what the app does and how some of the photos look, it’s just that find many of them to be distracting. Being a semi-professional photographer myself, I thoroughly appreciate a good (and well designed) viewfinder, however, after I take my pictures, I love for them to be pristine. The fact that a viewfinder’s lines are still visible on my images frustrates me, as I wish it wasn’t there, I just want to turn some of them off. The other part that is frustrating is that Viewmatic doesn’t take pictures on its own, you need to pull images in from your camera roll. I feel like this app should actually be just an addon for Wood Camera, the team’s amazing camera app, which I use all the time instead of the stock camera. But if you wanted to use both Wood Camera and Viewmatic, together you’d have to pay a total of $9, which is ridiculous for two camera apps.
Note: Customization received a 3 because you can’t turn off the viewfinder lines.
The app is well designed, it carries over that dark, skeuomorphic look found on Wood Camera (another reason I feel it should just be an added feature), the filters are great and add a lot of personality to the images, there are a lot of viewfinders to choose from and I’m sure the guys at Bright Mango will add more in the future, they’re also very well done, giving images a unique look when found on social sites like Instagram. One of my gripes from above, can also be a positive, depending on your personal preferences. The Viewmatic viewfinders can also make your images appear as though they’ve been shot with old, out of date cameras, which can be cool (until those viewfinder lines get in the way, which you can’t turn off).
Final Judgement (Why is it more expansive than Wood Camera?)
In the end, Viewmatic is a cool app. But it’s an app that feels incomplete. To me it should either have its own built in camera mode or it should have been added to Wood Camera as an in app purchase. At $4.99, it is way over priced, even more so when you consider the lack of a camera mode that the company’s cheaper app, Wood Camera ($3.99), features. Then there’s all the extras that you have to pay for on top of the $5 app cost.
I really want to like Viewmatic more than I do, but I just can’t help shake the feeling that if I highly recommend this app to people, they’re going to look at me like I’m crazy. “$5 for a photo app that doesn’t even take pictures and has filters that I can get for free in Instagram?” That is what my wife said, so I can only imagine the feedback I’d receive by pushing this app with 5 stars on TechHog.
Overall, the app is fun, creative and well designed. True photographers will love the nostalgic feel of the old out of date viewfinders. Had the app been priced at $0.99 or even $1.99, I think it may have been more appealing to masses, but as it stands now, it’s just not. It lacks and costs to much. If team decides to add a camera mode in the future and drops the price a little, I’d be happy to revisit it and give it a new score based on the changes, as for now, I stick to my guns. It’s a cool app, that should have been an in-app purchase for $1.99.
You can download Viewmatic on the Apple App Store now.