Photo App Focus: Wood Camera

Wood Camera for iPhone

Wood Camera is currently on sale for 50% off. How does it stack up?

Wood Camera, for iPhoneWood Camera is a very popular vintage/retro/grunge photo app. It’s fast, easy to use, and has received glowing reviews from other, non-iPhoneography websites. While not as powerful as other iPhone photo apps, overall it balances a lot well.

It’s been in my review queue for a while. I thought the recent 2.0 update is a good opportunity to have a look here at this high-charting photo app. Is it worth the hype? >>>

Wood Camera, screenshot

As I write this, Wood Camera is the number one paid app in the App Store. Not just the Photo & Video category, but the entire App Store. Going back a couple of years, I’m unable to find another photo app that’s topped the overall charts. Camera+ by tap tap tap and Vintique by GMY Studio topped out at #2 overall. This is quite an impressive feat.

Fortunately, Wood Camera is not an emulation of a classic camera that’s made of wood, nor is it an app that adds natural, wood grain effects to your images. Wood Camera is an easy to use camera and effects app. The app adds retro and vintage effects, mostly through color overlays. In addition to a very basic tool set, you can also add textures, tiltshift blur, vignette and frames.

Wood Camera starts you off with a very helpful overview of the app’s features — a great touch for users stepping up from more basic photo apps like Instagram. Like Instagram, filters are one-touch. There’s just a lot more of them and there are a few more easy adjustment options.

Wood Camera mostly delivers. In each filter category, there are plenty of choices and the bulk of them look good and are very usable for this style of app. The selection of color filters add everything from retro toy camera looks to more surreal color combinations. Unlike many apps in this class, the combinations overall look pretty good. Like Instagram’s one-click filters, users will find their favorites in Wood Camera’s selections. I seemed to land on Paris and Devonshire a lot.

I’m not usually a fan of textured overlays, but the selection here again is well done and I found nearly all of them to be usable for appropriate images. There’s very little fluff here. The overlays are static. I wish there were a way to rotate them in the app to be able to give the appearance of more randomized finished effects.

The intensity of each effect can be individually adjusted back for a more subtle look. Or you can toggle any of them off.

Wood Camera has an easy to use basic tool set which lets you easily select from freestyle or preset crops as well as adjust brightness, contrast and hue.

Wood Camera’s Frames are the app’s weakest feature, in my opinion. Although the app lets you crop to any aspect ratio, most of the frames here are optimized for a square format photo. Many of the frames looked irritatingly distorted on standard, uncropped 4:3 images. Many of the frames also look a little soft to my eye when enlarged and viewed closely. For most purposes, this shouldn’t be a problem. I found myself using only a handful of the frames in my test images. In particular, the instant print frames looked badly distorted and the faux-Hassy frames, while not as bad, still looked unnatural to me. I found trying to use the frames on a portrait or landscape image to be frustrating and irritating and it really took me out of an otherwise pleasant experience using this app.

Wood Camera uses a Lightbox workflow. This may use up more space on your device, but as long as an image is still in the app’s lightbox, you can change any edit in the image, including crops. That’s a great feature for users who like to experiment with different looks. From the lightbox, photos can easily be saved or shared over the usual photo sharing networks.

Wood Camera has a lot of filters and features and more are added through regular updates. It’s essentially several easy one-click workflows. Users who are stepping up from more basic photo apps will appreciate that. Wood Camera is also very fast. Saving to the camera roll was almost instant. It was so quick, I double checked to make sure it was saving full resolution images. Not only does Wood Camera save full res 8MP images, but it also saves an image’s EXIF data including all Geotag info.

So, how does Wood Camera stack up? For people new to iPhone photography, I usually recommend Camera+ hands down. Not only does it have a great camera, but it’s got a great set of easy to use effects as well. I would also recommend Wood Camera for users who are looking to grow from Instagram’s limited set of one-click filters, but who still want an app that’s fast and easy to use.

For users who’ve been shooting iPhoneography for a while, for a buck or two, Wood Camera offers a good set of vintage, grimy, scratchy filters and textures that’s just different enough than other similar apps, such as 100 Cameras and Distressed FX. If you like this style of app, Wood Camera is worth looking into for a buck or two.

Wood Camera is normally $1.99 in the App Store. It’s on sale for a limited time for $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 5.0 or later. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.

Have you got Wood Camera? Share what you think about it in the comments below.


Wood Camera, help screen




About Marty Yawnick 1826 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.
  • Wonderful to see a photography app at the top of the charts!!

  • I wish this review would have been posted before I purchased the app this morning. I have been curious about the app for some time now and with the sale price and it’s number one spot in the app store I thought it would be worth trying out now. I was dissapointed as well since I can do everything already with other apps in my camera bag. I fell victim to the #1 app position instead of waiting for a review. It’s not a bad app, it’s just not a “must have” photo editing app.

    • =M=

      Hi, Kristian,

      If you don’t see a review here, feel free to email me and ask. I may not have the time to fire off a 700 word review of an app, but often have the app on my iPhone and time to give you a few tweets worth to go by.


  • platinumveil

    I bought Wood Camera when it was initially released to glowing reviews, but I’ve hardly used it since. As your review says, I found that I can do pretty much everything with other photos apps already and in some cases better (my preferred format is 1:1 so I prefer cameras that allow me to shoot 1:1). Also, there haven’t been any “regular updates” for quite a while and when this update finally came I was disappointed that it didn’t include separate focus and exposure. These have become standard and I wouldn’t consider buying a photo app without it nowadays.

  • Ayub

    It’s a good app and what it does it does it well. The issue i have with is the way you apply filters. You apply a filter and when you want to see just the picture there is only one place you can do that and that’s on top through a toggle button which for me is a hassle. One tap on the picture to hide the filters and the filter adjustment bar would have sufficed.

  • Tracy Mitchell Griggs

    I bought this quite awhile ago but find the filters a bit heavy handed in coloration (needing adjustment in other apps) – dunno, I barely use it any longer. I just prefer another set of “go to” apps….

  • Mike

    Thanks for the review. Saved me a buck!