Photo App Review: Plastica 2.0 Redeems Itself

plastica, iphone photography, lomo

Version Reviewed: 2.0

Rating 3 1/2 stars. A good app. I like it.

Plastica app for iPhone, Hipstamtic cloneBottom Line: I like it. Not without its flaws, this is a greatly improved update with new features that differentiates from its obvious competition.

Plastica, by graf, the makers of the excellent PictureShow, is back in the App Store after a several week “hiatus.” After testing the new 2.0 update, I’m glad it’s back. It’s also FREE for a limited time. It’s definitely worth a second look.

The new re-release of Plastica isn’t perfect, but it’s now good enough to make me get over the first time it was released.

plastica-2-0-screen-0313-02Plastica is another retro-analog-style app with a camera, lens and film type user interface. Sound like another app you know? I was extremely hard on Plastica the first time around, calling it (among other things) “a poor-man’s Hipstamatic, where Hipstamatic is the new Cadillac and Plastica is a used Ford.”

It’s back. It’s much better. The UI has been redesigned and now has much more of its own identity. Along with the makeover are a lot of new features — good ones that differentiate this app from Hipstamatic. This is the app that should have been released two months ago.

There are plenty of lens and film combinations in Plastica. Many look closer to the rich, saturated colors and tones of Hipstamatic than to the standard Instagram clone filters found in many apps.

The User Interface has been overhauled so Plastica now has an identity of its own, which is a good thing. Lenses and films are now stored in boxes and are easily accessible from the camera’s back.

Plastica comes nicely stocked with films and lenses. I’ve got the whole set in this version (I don’t remember buying them). There were a few $0.99 in-app purchase in the previous version.

In the expanded viewfinder, Plastica has separate focus and exposure targets that Hipstamatic lacks. They’re clearly labeled and fairly easy to move around the screen. The expanded viewfinder has been fixed in this update and now opens, shoots, and closes with ease.

Plastica has several tools available from the camera’s back, including a full-res digital zoom that Hipstamatic lacks, front camera and flash toggles, and a new randomize button which mixes up films and lenses with each shot. Especially with apps that have so many filter combinations, this is a great feature to use to discover “happy accidents.”


Plastica's back toolbar, showing front cam toggle, flash, 5-shot burst, TiltShift blur, and randomize tools. Zoom slider is below viewfinder.
Plastica’s back toolbar, showing front cam toggle, flash, 5-shot burst, TiltShift blur, and randomize tools. Zoom slider is below viewfinder.

There is also a new TiltShift type blur, both round and square, that’s easily accessible from the collapsable menu bar. It’s less of a tiltshift and more of a really jacked up bad plastic toy camera lens. Fans of TiltShift effects will hate it. Fans of real-life plastic toy cameras, such as Dianas or some of the old Holgas, will probably like this lo-fi focus effect.

Plastica now supports full native square resolution on iPhone 5 and 4S devices — that’s 2448×2448 pixels. I suspect it’s also full square native support on an iPhone 4 as well. Sorry, 3GS users… you’re out of luck on this one. EXIF data? Some. Geotags? Nope.

Pro Tip: Before using this update, open the app’s settings and change them to your liking. Full Resolution, Save Original, and Auto Save all default to Off. Also, don’t forget to restore your purchases right away.

It now can also save your original image as well as the filtered one, an excellent feature that also gives you a raw copy of the image to play with.

Plastica now imports images from your iPhone’s camera roll — probably the biggest single feature the app could have to set it apart. Set your film and lens combination, import an image and the app automatically applies the effects. Hipstamatic users have been screaming for this feature for years. A big huge bug here that will hack many users off is that imported images don’t save at full resolution. Most of the time they saved back to my camera roll at 852×852 pixels, even with the high resolution setting turned on. Hopefully, this will be fixed soon. This will be a very popular and differentiating feature.

Plastica’s filter set is still similar to Hipstamatic’s, but not identical. I found them to be a little flat in comparison to Hipstamatic and other faux-LOMO apps like the old LOMO-LOMO/LEME-LEME apps. Vibrance and saturation is not as lush in many instances. For me, this works for several of the filters, but not all. This flatness and lack of punch gives many of Plastica’s effects a more accurate, lo-fi look.

It doesn’t support lens and film previews, which given the number of lenses and films, would be a helpful addition in keeping the filter characteristics straight. In fact, even in its own Lightbox, there’s no way to tell which filter combination shot an image which makes it very difficult to turn “happy accidents” into favorite lens and film combinations. It’s buried in the EXIF data, but you’ll need a separate EXIF viewer app like EXIF-fi to find it.

UPDATE 01: Reader Robin E notes that “Double tap on an image in the gallery to get info like location, lens and film.”

I was surprised to see this app return to the App Store. After testing this new update, I’m glad it did. The developers took a beating with the first version of the app. They’ve gone back to the drawing board. This latest version of Plastica, while still not without its flaws, now stands pretty well on its own. This is probably the biggest turnaround of a photo app that I’ve ever seen.

As an app on its own, there are enough filters with good-looking lo-fi qualities that have earned Plastica 2.0 a slot back on my iPhone. If you’d given up on Plastica, it’s worth a second look.

Currently Plastica is free. 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. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.



plastica, iphone photography, lomo

plastica, iphone photography, lomo

plastica, iphone photography, lomo

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.
  • Cyco

    With there being 3 bucks of IAP available, does the app stand on it’s own without them or are they required to get the full experience?

    • =M=

      I’m not really sure?. I’d try the standard filters first to see how you like the app. Maybe buy the addl sets one at a time….


  • mahtiaivo

    i don’t like it, it now looks and feels like many other retro apps
    i liked the awesome interface from version 1.
    this update is bad, if you select ‘save original’ the original shot will appear in all your albums.
    i want version 1 back.

    • Thanks for comment.

      I found the bug you mentioned. we fixed it. It will be available soon.
      Great thanks for that. Sorry for the new UI.

  • Robin E

    Double tap on an image in the gallery to get info like location, lens and film.

    • =M=

      Thanks, Robin. That works. I thought I tried that. Updating my review.


      • Robin E

        Found by accident! Also, there are 3 lens/film packs to buy at 69p/$0.99 each.

  • Thanks for review again.

    Plastica concept is totally changed from ‘Share Your Toy Camera’ to ‘Easy to Snap on the go’.
    So UI should be changed totally and We’ve tried to change & enhance many aspects of it.

    We’ll enhance it more with user’s feedbacks and advices.
    Now we’ve found some bugs in ‘Full resolution’ and is fixed. Sorry for that.
    It will be update soon.

    In addition, We’re focus in renewing in PicutureShow now. Sorry for no update.
    But it will be more cooler.

    Sorry for poor english. guys.

    • MxGxPx

      I do like the new version 2.0. It’s easier to use with functions not available in most other apps of this kind. I had deleted the first version long ago, but will definitely keep the new Plastica as I like many of the available combos.

      These elements trouble me though. I would like to see the following improvements made in future updates:

      1. The lens names are nearly invisible on the dark green background rendering them unreadable. Very difficult to tell which lens (or film) you have selected.

      2. When selecting a lens or film, it automatically returns to the camera. If you want to change both lens and film you need to go in and out twice which I find cumbersome. It should be possible to select new combos and then manually return to the camera mode.

      3. All photos are stored in both the camera roll and to an automatically created Plastica album. I prefer to keep minimal albums and would like the option to turn the Plastica album off in settings.

      Overall, I really like the results I’ve seen since playing with the new Plastica camera. I use Hipstamatic a lot, and to me Plastica has its own unique treatment to images with a stronger emphasis on the lo-fi.

      I sincerely hope the developers continue to listen to user feedback and make the necessary improvements in future updates.

      • Thanks for your feedback. I’ll fix it all in updates.

        I’ll try to enhance it. 🙂

        • MxGxPx

          Thanks for the swift response! I think it’s great when developers maintain contact with the users and devote themselves to bettering their product. It’s clear you have put a lot of effort into improving Plastica and already I’m enjoying some excellent results. Thanks for your time, and we look forward to both Plastica and Pictureshow updates!

    • Fredrik Nilsson

      I’m really glad to see that you intend to update PictureShow. I was afraid it was a dead app.

      Is it possible to send with a list with feature requests?

  • tom s

    There was something more charming about the original UI. I like the added functionality but feel less excited about using it.

    Are the stickers gone?

    Can there be some way of using the best of both versions?

    • Sorry for that. I loved the previous UI too.
      But the many of users thought it was inconvenient and feel it as a copy of hipstamatic UI.
      That was so disappointed to us. We changed the concept of it. We should do that. Sticker can be available again. but not now.

      Thanks for you comment.

      • mahtiaivo

        cant you make an option in the app for the user to choose if he wants to use the new or the old app?

        also: where are all the colors for the camera gone?

        • Sorry It is not possible. but We’ll try to implement some functions of old version. and More ‘Body Style’ will be added step by step for free. Thanks for your feedback.

  • Amy Hughes

    Thanks M for the re-review of this app. I had tried it in its first incarnation, but agreed the UI was the biggest obstacle. Loved the idea and the results, so glad you came back with this high-five on the re-do. And thanks ‘Plastica Developer’ for going back to the drawing board for this. Going to give it another try 🙂

    • Thanks for your warm feedback!
      I’ll do all my best to enhance it afterwards.

  • Frennzy

    I have a 4s with ios5, and unfortunately, it wont work on my phone. When ios6 came out, I waited to see if there would be any problems with it, and there were. I’m still waiting for things to get fixed right. Bottom line- will you code the app so that it will work with ios5? I’d really like to try it.

  • Hello Marty
    I’ve upgraded Plastica to the new version and (apart the bugs/limitations/etc. reported in your post) I’ve used for one day in different light conditions.
    I begin to love this app, like I’ve loved PictureShow. Some films are really good, I’ve purchased all.
    What I will love to see?
    A. Different formats, maybe only a switch to choose 1:1 or 6×7 (that I love)
    B. Build my own filters and save them as in Cameramatic.

    The interface works well also on an iPad Mini. I’ve found simple and intuitive and less cluttered than Hipsta (that I don’t like very much – please don’t shoot me …).
    The price it’s more than honest compared to Hipsta or other HipstaCam alike.
    Congrats to the developers awaiting more packs and bug hunting.
    I’m a fan of LifeInLoFi …

    • Thanks for waiting new update. your comment on v1.0 helped us.
      and Different format is good idea I think. But there some technical issue on it. We’ll try it later and if it works It could be implemented.

      v2.0 still have some bugs and most of that were fixed already. It will be updated in next week I think.

  • idieuwke

    great review, thanks. I have tried the app and likeir so much that I bought the in app lens and film packs. Had it crash on me seceral times but after rebooting my iphone 4s this problem was gone. I’m looking forward to the next update, really hope the photo’s imported from the camera roll will save at full res after aplying film and lens effects.
    thanks again

  • Vincenzo Mario Cristi

    Hello there, I really love the improvement made on the app and even though I’m a hardcore Hipsta user I’m realy digging this app in.

    I’ve bought all the extras but I found some bug: check this pic out.

    Is it that blue line normal?

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