Photo App Review: Plastica – An Unnecessary Hipstamatic Knock-off
Price: Free, introductory. Regular price, ?
Bottom 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.
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.