Photo App Focus: Photo 55, for Recreating Polaroid Type 55 Prints
Polaroid Type 55 film is a black-and-white peel-apart Polaroid film that yields both a positive print and a negative image (which can be used in an enlarger). It’s got its own Wikipedia entry. It’s an interesting read for a bit of photo history.
Photo 55 is an app that recreates the look of the classic Polaroid Type 55 film. Although not the Polaroid effect most users think of, it’s a classic photo look and for the most part, Photo 55 does a good job of recreating it, but the app has a few issues that may put off some users.
It’s an easy app to use — shoot or load from your photo library. Photo 55 converts the image to grayscale and adds one of two classic Polaroid frames — either Type 55 film or Type 665. Overall, the black and white conversion looks good, although to my eye it’s not as saturated as analog Type 55 prints. Thankfully, they did not include the real-world goop artifacts on the image (although it would be an interesting option for a future update….).
It’s not perfect and it’s a little picky about the images it processes. They recommend you use the app’s built-in camera and that may be a good idea. Photo 55 doesn’t handle cropped images well.
Type 55 film was a 4:5 ratio film. The app distorts square images to fill the frame. In theory, it should also distort uncropped iPhone 4 images as well. The sweet spot for iPhone 4 resolution would be 2592×2073 pixels — just a little different than iPhone 4 resolution. If they’re going for accurate, I didn’t notice much if any visible distortion when importing images from my photo library. Be warned! If you use the app’s built-in camera, it only saves the procesed image and not a copy of the original. It’s something I hope is added in a future update.
The app only applies one frame for each style of film. The nature of pulling apart a Polaroid print creates a lot of randomness that isn’t recreated here. It doesn’t recreate the negative. Also, it adds a black fill to the empty space of the frame. By saving the image natively as a .png instead of a .jpg, it would be possible to add transparency to the frame and it’s a feature I hope is explored in future updates.
Many App Store reviews are complaining about the app’s 1600×1200 resolution. I don’t have as much a problem with that, although I would like to see higher resolution support in a future updates. The original iPhone 2G and 3G had the same 2 megapixel resolution and you can still get some very usable real-world prints from a 2 MP image, especially when you are recreating 4″ x 5″ prints — no problem there.
Photo 55 is an interesting but incomplete nod to an often overlooked classic Polaroid style.
The app is only $0.99 in the App Store. Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.3 or later.