Photo App Review: Plastica – An Unnecessary Hipstamatic Knock-off


Version 1.0
Price: Free, introductory. Regular price, ?

Rating 2 stars. I don't like it.

Plastica for iPhone, Hipstamtic cloneBottom Line: I don’t like it. It tries too much to be Hipstamatic, but offers nothing new or original and lacks Hipstamatic’s finesse

Although I don’t use it as much as I did in the past, PictureShow was one of my favorite retro, analog photo apps. The app gets a lot right — interface, effects, frames — and there’s really nothing like it in the App Store.

It’s hard to believe that new photo app Plastica is from the same developer. There’s nothing original about this app. Everything about it reminds me of Hipstamatic, except while I was testing this app, I kept thinking how Hipstamatic does everything so much better. >>>


Plastica is a blatant copy of Hipstamatic. I don’t necessarily think it’s a terrible one per se, but there’s a lot I don’t like about it.

First, the default black plastic camera case and reduced size square viewfinder is a direct ripoff. The look, layout and textures are too close to be a mere “nod.” The Haus of Hipstamatic and their attorneys may not like this one. It also makes me feel like I’ve downloaded one of the scammy knockoff apps, even though this comes from a respected developer. The viewfinder flies out larger just like Hipstamatic, except it’s not as responsive when trying to collapse it. I ended up wasting several shots every time I tried to close the larger viewer.

Plastica has a film and lens filter system that is also very similar to Hipstamatic, only more clunky in my opinion. Instead of simply selecting a film and lens combination, you have to build a “camera.” This is similar to Hipstamatic’s presets, except that managing all the various combinations will quickly get bloated and cumbersome. One of the good things about not being forced to use a preset is that combinations you don’t like are quickly and easily changed. One thing missing from the lens/film UI is Hipstamatic’s excellent “Shake to Randomize” feature, which is the setting many Hipstafiends use most. Oh, and the murky green tints of the Boris lens is a ripoff of the John S lens (minus the grit and texture that makes John S. classic).

The film and frame effects look a lot like Hipstamatic’s for the most part. Users of both apps will see a lot of similarities. They do look good until you look at them closely. Plastica’s filters lack vibrance, lushness and much of the randomness in the aberrations that makes Hipstamatic images seem really rich and analog.


The App Store description says that 14 lenses, 12 films, 11 bodies and 11 stickers or camera textures are provided. That’s misleading. Most of them are available as a separate in-app purchase. The app actually comes standard with 4 lenses, 3 films, 2 bodies, and 3 stickers. It’s currently missing from the App Store description but you can buy more lenses, films and cases just like … oh, never mind. They are available in several in-app purchases each running $0.99 a piece. Each has several lenses, films, cases and case textures or a combination of each. Buying the entire kit will set you back about $3 or $4 and makes Plastica on par with Hipstamatic from early 2011.

I don’t like the lack of native resolution support. Why couldn’t they nick that feature from Hipstamatic? Images save at a maximum 2048×2048 — lower on an iPhone 3GS. Plastica doesn’t save much EXIF data and none of the Geotag location data. Like Hipstamatic, Plastica is a camera only. You can’t import images from your photo library to process them. This is one area where Plastica could have differentiated itself but didn’t.

Hipsta… I mean Plastica has a pretty good recovery time on an iPhone 5. I was able to shoot about 2 exposures per second and shoot a lot of them. The app caches images while processing very well. Even testing the app under extreme shooting conditions, it didn’t crash. I beat it up pretty well and it held up.

There’s a per-roll limit that concerns me. Each “camera” is limited to 64 shots, including any that you delete. This is similar to Hipstamatic Disposable’s rolls except that images are shared immediately instead at the end of the roll. At least you don’t need to buy more rolls of film when it’s finished, like the much-reviled Lomora and Hipstamatic-Disposable apps. You simply need to “rebuild” that camera again. Cameras also serve as the app’s albums, so this could start to make the number of albums bloated if you shoot a lot of photos.

There’s a big green shutter release button instead of a yellow one. Even the icons are similar.

Under different circumstances, I probably would have given this app at least three stars, but Plastica tries too hard to be a copy of one of iPhoneography’s most iconic apps. Points off for that. If you’re going to try this hard to nick a well-known photo app, you’ve got to hit it out of the park. The only thing this first release manages to do better is be less expensive.

It’s a poor-man’s Hipstamatic, where Hipstamatic is the new Cadillac and Plastica is a used Ford. I still like PictureShow, but I think that developer Graf may have misstepped with this one. As long as Hipstamatic is available in the App Store, Plastica is an unnecessary app.

Plastica is introductory priced at Free with several in-app purchases. It’s not optimized for the larger screen of the iPhone 5 and it’s not a Universal app, although it will run on an iPad with a camera in compatibility mode. 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 6.0 or later.

Plastica - graf


It’s a free app for now. Am I missing something here? Let us know what you think about the app in the comments below.







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.
  • Elijah Mesina

    I definitely agree with you, the app store has become very cluttered with similar apps, and blatant knockoff apps. I also understand what the developer is trying to do, but if your going to make an app the differentiates itself and that has features to help it stand out. It’s a shame because this looks like a good app.

  • norbu56

    I’ll take a look but don’t forget that Graf (the developer) has made PictureShow 2, for me, one of the best and historical app in the AppStore.
    Awaiting further implementations: better resolution, 4:3 format, load from photoroll and all the things is missing in Hipsta.

    • =M=

      I agree. PictureShow is a classic, which is one reason why I’m so disappointed with Plastica.


  • iClifDotMe

    As a Gizmon owner and hardcore Hipstamatic user, there are several things that make this app useless to me right off the bat. It only supports the standard (home button on the right) landscape orientation, which means all of my photos come out upside down. It also doesn’t support volume shutter, which makes for awkward picture-taking if you’re used to having a real button to push. As mentioned in the article, I found it impossible to escape from the full screen viewer mode without closing the camera, while Hipstamatic gives you two methods for easily returning to the small viewfinder.

    The lower resolution is fine for Instagram photos I suppose, but even the app’s high res setting only results in 1.6 MP images compared to Hipstamatic’s 3.7 MP on the iPhone 4.

    As far as IAPs go, I expect the included equipment to knock my socks off before I’ll pay for additional functionality, and this app just doesn’t deliver. The price of the app may currently be free, but I’ll keep my 40MB for storing quality photos, thanks.

  • Kent Kangley

    After reading your thoughts here and on twitter, I decided to try this out for myself. I downloaded the app and all the IAPs. It was a beautiful winter day out so I went to Redondo Beach and gave it a spin.

    I agree that the necessity of building a camera for every film combination is ridiculous. Especially when you’re new to an app like this, you want to learn how each film and lens works, and try a lot of combinations to learn how they work together. And what is the point of the 64 shots and rebuild the camera limit? This system slows that learning curve down to a crawl. As a result, after spending about 3 hours shooting photos, I only got to experiment with 4 combinations. Just let us users switch out the films and lenses on the fly and we will learn (and learn to appreciate) this app that much sooner.

    With that being said, I did like the films and lenses I tried out today. I’m willing to put in a little more time with this app before I write it off. Get rid of the silly camera building exercise and it could be a winner.

  • Morplett

    I’ll echo others thoughts here…I was very excited to try it out given my love of PictureShow, which I still use consistently. Maybe that created undue expectations but I was completely underwhelmed. Felt like a Hipsta knock-off and the UI was overly complicated to take ‘on the go’ shots. I often walk to lunch with my iPhone out and Hipstamatic running and just shake and take pics for the randomness. That wouldn’t be possible with Plastica, yet. And that really surprises me as I love the randomize feature in PictureShow. Upside items…it looks very good and there are some nice combinations of lens,film, frame.
    Oh, and of course it’s hard to complain about a free app.

  • Kent Kangley

    The Plastica app has been removed from the app store already.

  • Jeffrey

    Well, the only thing I will congratulate this app on is the fact it actually makes a photo look… Flat? I’m not sure, but something about Hipstamatic is they’re trying to keep things on the plain side, where as this one jumps all over those crazy filters.
    If Hipstamatic could only do that.
    I mean the Betty lens is pretty wild, but that about their only one. You know?