Review: Plastic Bullet – New Lomo App for iPhone

plastic bullet test image
Tulips, processed with Plastic Bullet


Plastic Bullet
Version 1.0
Price: $1.99 USD

Rating 3 1/2 stars

Bottom Line: Gorgeous, one-of-a-kind Lomo effects, but version 1.0 only has 800×600 output.

plastic bullet lomo lomographyTouted as “a photo app with infinite possibilities”, Plastic Bullet from Red Giant Software is a new plastic camera-style app. It’s fairly simple to use — either use the app’s built-in camera or load an image from your iPhone’s camera roll. Four images at a time are then previewed. Save the one you like or refresh the screen for more previews.

The app is a true electronic lomography app — one that encourages you to explore the “happy accidents” in your photography.

The effects are often gorgeous. I found myself hitting save within one or two screens, but continuing on to see what other effects it would generate. Often, I found myself saving more than one iteration of an image.

Plastic Bullet randomly applies a variety of color and saturation effects, blurs, vignettes, as well as a really nice analog-looking border. Plastic Bullet doesn’t recreate the look of any one type of plastic camera, but randomly generates the look of many combinations of cameras, lenses and films.

Plastic Bullet preview screens

Plastic Bullet creates some really nice color variations. The saturation can be rich. With the random vignettes and blurs, the results can be washed out and dreamy, similar to a Diana camera, but with more contrast, depth and punch. The monochromes are nice, if not a little blue at times. The best part about the filters, though, is if you don’t see one you like in the preview, hit refresh and in seconds you’re presented with more variations.

The app is simple, stable and gives you the option to also save your original image.  The app randomly generates effects — you have no control over filters. The app’s description advertises that you’ll never see the same effect twice, although after hitting refresh several times, it was possible to get variations that were pretty similar to ones I passed on.

Some iPhoneographers may have an issue with the lack of control over effects generation. Others may enjoy being surprised by the random results, which I think is the intended purpose of this app.

My biggest issue with version 1.0 of Plastic Bullet is the low-resolution output, which is currently only 800×600 pixels in order “to support older devices (iPhone 3G).” Kudos to Red Giant for stating this clearly in the app’s description. An update is promised soon which will bring higher resolution on newer devices, presumably the 3GS and next-gen iPhone. However with apps like Hipstamatic, SwankoLab and lo-mob which support all iPhones, use up a lot of CPU clock cycles, and still output at full-resolution on all devices, I wonder why full-resolution isn’t supported in this version and why owners of older iPhones will supposedly be left out for higher res support. I hope this is resolved soon in a future update — there are still a lot of 2G and 3G iPhones in use.

Right now, I’m giving Plastic Bullet three and half stars — knocking off a little bit for the low resolution. Currently, output is perfect for sharing Facebook, Flickr and Twitter, but you won’t get any large size prints from these gorgeous images. Is it worth two dollars? For sharing images on the web and in email, most definitely. If you plan on making gallery prints with the output, maybe not so much — I’d either hold off for now to see how the resolution issue is resolved in future updates or have lowered expectations for the app.

The output is gorgeous and the results truly unique. The images look like they were taken with any number of plastic lo-fi cameras — probably even better looking than the real analog camera in many cases. Its ease of use allows plenty of flexibility to explore the many beautiful variations and stumble upon one or more that you like.

App Store link: Plastic Bullet



About Marty Yawnick 1810 Articles
Marty is a self-employed graphic designer in the Fort Worth/Dallas Metroplex. He is an avid Rangers baseball, Chicago Cubs, Packers and Highbury Arsenal fan. In addition to capturing random moments with whatever camera is close by (usually his iPhone), his other interests include coffee, film, music, and traveling in seats 5E and 5F with his fiancé.
  • Charmian

    Marty, thanks for the review. I bought this the day it came out, and have been enjoying the heck out of it. Can't wait till the resolution is upped. When it is, it'll be perfect.

  • Miki

    Thanks for the review. I've been hearing a lot of good things about this app but won't support it with my money until they come through with the update. I've heard a lot of devs promise full res updates and then sit on the money.

  • Ramona Gillentine

    Got this app this morning, been obsessing with it at work, love it!

  • Charles

    I saw this app right away and wrote to the developer. It doesn't save in full resolution. They have given reasons for this but the fact remains…IT DOESN'T SAVE IN FULL RESOLUTION.

    I hope they fix this soon as it has some very interesting qualities.

  • Valerie

    Awww :S Sounds truly nice, but I am going to wait and see if the resolution will become higher (I now have a small list of apps on my phone that are still waiting for updates, either in resolution or something as stupid as the film lab portrait mode thing).

    I'm still on my 3G, I don't see why I can't have 1600×1200. 800×600 is not enough.. Well. I'll wait. Thanks for the review, as always!

  • deborah d. lattimore

    i downloaded this app after reading your review, and i love it! extremely user-friendly, no annoying splash screen, and i appreciate that it works in both orientations. it's really fun to see what comes up – i like the surprise of it. thank you for this review!

  • Jaile

    The low resolution is pretty sad, considering the day and age. Their statement that they will upgrade for new iPhone devices is ridiculous, considering, as you said, that older phones get full resolution output from apps like Hipstamatic. I wish they had been MORE up front about this limitation before buying. You would assume, from a company like Red Giant, that full resolution was a given!