Photo App Review: SwankoLab finally gets an update!

Version reviewed: 1.3
Price: $1.99

Rating 4 stars. It's very good!

SwankoLabBottom Line: I like it a lot. New features and tweaks make this update a good one. It’s stable and brings the app up to spec with the latest iOS devices.

It’s been over 100 weeks between updates. That’s two Super Bowls. The new SwankoLab update is finally here.

There are several new filters — chemicals in SwankoSpeak, stability updates. It’s an excellent dot oh update. More importantly, it shows Hipstamatic Company’s renewed commitment to the app. Read on for all the info on the update, including a few things not in the App Store description. >>>

SwankloLab is Hipstamatic Company’s “handheld darkroom kit” for your iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. It features a darkroom-type user interface, complete with “developer”, “fix”, and other “chemistry.” It’s possible to get many of Hipstamatic’s early effects using SwankoLab.

SwankoLab gets four new effects in the Chemical Lab. Rockin’ Robin Color Booster really jacks up color saturation and contrast. Haze adds a little soft focus around the edges of the frame. Insty-Tex Cool adds a random hotspot in the center of the image while slightly enhancing the saturation around the edges. Queen’s Vignette – Black adds a very subtle vignette around the frame edges. If you already have Uncle Stu’s Supply Catalog, you’ll be happy with the new effects.

Swankolab screen shots
SwankLab sreenshots, indication the tap-and-hold preview (right)

Effects are much easier to preview. Combined effects now preview onscreen. You can also tap-and-hold to preview a chemical before pouring it. Both features are great in that they take a lot of the guesswork out of using the app and make applying the effects less random. You can still save and name your favorite “chemical” combinations for later use — always a great feature of this app.

The quality of the effects is still classic Hipstamatic-great. I love the look and quality of the effects rendered with both apps. The looks of the new effects fit right in with the old ones. In fact, the new chemicals show up in their logical sequence in the chemical rack, not chronologically tacked to the end of it.

SwankoLab now supports the full 8 MP resolution of the iPhone 4S and does so without presenting the warning screen the previous version did. In my tests, image after image processed without a hitch. The app was very stable for me. Unfortunately, it still does not support most EXIF data and it strips Geotag location data from an image.

SwankoLab has a new Hipstamatic-style shopping cart. Previously, the effects were under one listing for Uncle Stu’s Supply Catalog. In the new version, they are still all available for $1.99, but now each add-on effect has its own listing in the shopping cart.

In addition to importing images, SwankoLab now let you capture images in app with Apple’s camera APIs.

Finally, SwankoLab now requires iOS 5.0 or newer. Owners of older iPhones still running iOS 4 are out of luck on this update.

The new shopping cart contains several items that are marked “Coming Soon”. I’m excited that Hipstamatic are developing SwankoLab again. I’m more excited about the clues that indicate it’ll be a lot sooner than 100 weeks before our next update.

One of the biggest complaints I hear about Hipstamatic is its lack of ability to import images to process with its great, unique effects. SwankoLab goes a long way to address that issue and with its mix of chemicals actually gives you greater control, variation and possibilities than Hipstamatic can.

The new SwankoLab update is late, but it’s a good one. More importantly, it points to future updates, improvements and new features at a more rapid pace than we’ve seen previously with the app. I’m glad SwankoLab is back and updated. Uncle Stu has been busy cookin’. Here’s hoping he’s got a few more surprises for us.

SwankoLab is $1.99 for the stock version. Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 5.0 or later.

SwankoLab - Hipstamatic, LLC





About Marty Yawnick 1808 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.
  • @richardgrant

    Thanks for the instant and thorough briefing on this, Marty.

    See you on TiPN.

  • Steven Bron

    I definitely like the new editions but am a bit bummed that some of the older effects like Fantabra Warm have gone.

    • Gusbano

      ahh that sounds not good:(
      With the update all saved combinations will be lost?

    • @kentkangley

      That's odd. I only see Fantabra Cool on the chemical shelf, but if I look in the shopping cart area, they show Fantabra Warm and it's stamped "MINE" like I bought it. I wonder if this is a glitch that needs to be addressed?

      • lifeinlofiblog

        I think so. After I wrote this, I learned that Fantabra Warm is not in this update. Not sure why.


  • Bobbie

    What happens for those of us who bought into their upgrades for life scenario?

  • Tomba

    … used the new version on iphone 4s.
    First i thought they made a speed improvement since 3GS dates.
    When i checked developed photo i found out that standard setting is only 640×475!
    To get 8MP you have to select high resolution output in iphone settings.
    That still slows down processing speed to a totally unacceptable degree (for me).
    I deleted it again.

  • Schmoe

    Should have waited to purchase this, instead of diving in right after reading the good review on the new version. Kind of sucks that it's just been reduced to $0.99. Usually they do that at the same time as the update as a "celebration".

  • Rob

    "SwankoLab has a new Hipstamatic-style shopping cart. Previously, the effects were under one listing for Uncle Stu’s Supply Catalog. In the new version, they are still all available for $1.99, but now each add-on effect has its own listing in the shopping cart."

    Huh? I'm confused. Does this mean you can buy the effects individually or pay $1.99 for the lifetime upgrade to get them all?

  • @lalaithbr

    After your reviews I decided to buy it. I didn't know how it worked, so never interested me. I found out that it's a very cool app to have. I liked very much. Thanks for the tip!

  • Nantho

    I just bought it and it's a very pleasant tool but I have a little concern, with the new preview feature you can't see the name of the chemicals anymore so it's pretty hard to share recipes…