As a supporter of digital lo-fi iPhoneography, I really love a good light leak. For great lo-fi photography, you can’t beat a good light leak to add a finishing touch to an image.
There are several apps that add some nice ones. One of the apps in my toolbox is the great but overlooked Osmo Leaker Pro. Light Leaker is a new light leak photo app. Here’s my take on both of these apps. Either one will do a great job at adding these wonderful light aberrations to your photos.
According to Wikipedia, “A light leak is a hole or gap in the body of a camera where light is able to “leak” into the normally light-tight chamber, exposing the film or sensor with extra light.” It often happens when the parts of a camera don’t completely align, allowing light to get into the chamber. Holgas and other toy cameras are famous for the effect, although I’ve gotten it when carelessly unloading old style roll film. When I was shooting film, I thought accidental light leaks ruined many a photo for me. Now, I think intentional light leaks can complete a photo.
Both are easy to use apps. Both have built-in cameras or can import images from your photo library. Both are just about click and save easy.
Light Leaker is a brand new photo app from the creator of one of my favorite niche photo apps, HarrisCamera. It’s got a slick, modern easy to use interface which belies it’s very analog influence. The animated transitions are really smooth. The app supports Apple’s “Open In …” protocol which lets you send an image directly to other apps. That’s a great feature for this app as you’ll want to add film textures and frames to the great images that this app creates.
Leaks are not random, but there are plenty to choose from. In this version 1.0 release, there are 30 light leaks. All of them are static — there’s no additional random processing. There’s a row of buttons which let you flick and select an effect. It’s the same method as Instagram and many other filter apps.
The leaks themselves are very nice and natural looking. Most are not an intense burn, but have pleasing range of warm hues and more subtle, natural light distortions. Between the two apps, Light Leakers “body” is tighter.
Light Leaker supports up to the 8MP resolution of the iPhone 6, 5, and 4S.
Light Leaker is normally $3.99.
The Osmo Leaker apps
Osmo Leaker Pro is the older of the two. When it was released over a year ago, I really expected to see a lot more buzz with this app, but this great app has been overlooked.
More in the spirit of an old, toy camera, Osmo Leaker Pro applies “random” light leaks to an image. Don’t like what you see? Tap the icon and reapply the leak. There are actually a finite number of leaks that the app will apply. It will also randomly rotate them as you cycle through to offer an even greater selection of effects.
The effects of Osmo Leaker Pro are more aggressive than those of Light Leaker. While there’s a good selection of more subtle leaks, there are also a lot of more vibrant and intense leaks. A few of the effects even have film “artifacts.” Many of the effects can be rather pronounced and Some of them can really obscure large parts of the image. It’s the digital equivalent of accidentally opening up the back of the camera before the film has been completely shot.
Osmo Leaker Pro also supports up to the 8MP resolution of the iPhone 5 and 4S. It strips out most EXIF data including location tags. There’s a free lite version, Osmo Leaker Free (), that’s full featured but only supports up to 3MP saves, 2048×1536 on an iPhone 5.
Which to choose depends on your preference. Both create great-looking, realistic light leaks. Light Leaker creates the more subtle effects of the two. Osmo Leaker has some subtle effects, but also has many that are pretty aggressive. Light Leaker will let you choose your effects. Like a real camera, Osmo Leaker gives more random results.
The effects from both apps look great when combined with other analog-style photo apps. For me, they’re both good for adding very analog-looking light aberrations and both apps are staying on my iPhone.
Osmo Leaker Pro is $0.99. Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), iPod touch (5th generation) and iPad. Requires iOS 5.1 or later.