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Home » Reviews

Photo App Review: Koloid Recreates A Vintage Photo Process on your iPhone

Submitted by on July 8, 2013 – 9:19 am 2 Comments

Koloid for iPhone photo, collodian process for iPhone and iPad

Despite its colorful Mod logo, Koloid‘s roots are firmly planted in 19th century photography. Koloid is based on the old collodion photographic process introduced in the late 1850’s. It’s a process that almost entirely replaced the daguerreotype within a relatively short time. It had a good run of over 30 years before it was largely replaced by the gelatin dry plate process.

On the iPhone, married with 21st century technology, Koloid creates some quaint, vintage black & white images with a unique antiqued texture.

Koloid for iPhone photo, collodian process for iPhone and iPad

Collodion process” is usually taken to be synonymous with the “collodion wet plate process”, a very inconvenient form which required the photographic material to be coated, sensitized, exposed and developed within the span of about fifteen minutes, necessitating a portable darkroom for use in the field.

Thank you, Wikipedia.

Koloid, collodion process, iPhone black & whiteKoloid is much easier to use than its analog predecessor. Shoot an image with the app’s vintage looking camera or import an image from your camera roll. Tilt your device to spread the “chemical liquid” and your photos slowly develop into a vintage looking black & white image.

The development process adds a lot of anomalies, including uneven processing, streaks, smears, rough edges, and even overprocessing burn if you leave the “goo” over an area of an image for too long. Omitting a part of the picture will leave it undeveloped. The app lets you adjust the amount of “developer” in the “tray” Athough I found the default setting of 15 to be quite usable in most cases. The user interface even mimics a developer tray when processing. It’s similar to SwankoLab, only with much more control.

The resulting black & whites are interesting and unique. Because of the fluid nature of the process, it’s virtually impossible to recreate the exact same effect. One of the things I like bout Koloid is that the images look old and weathered, but in a less vintage, more timeless sort of way.

I don’t like that currently there’s no way to turn off the standard frame. It is possible to turn off the date and Geotags that appear at the bottom of the image. I’d prefer to save the unframed, processed image to my camera roll and add a frame later, if needed. I hope this is a feature added soon.

Koliod also does not save your original image. If you think you’ll want to rework your photo (recommended), shoot with another camera.

Currently, it does not easily support landscape images. There isn’t really an ideal workaround, but one way to import a wide, landscape image is to rotate it 90° first while it’s saved to your camera roll. You’ll still have the asymmetric tab on the frame, though. This app is pretty much a portrait-oriented app.

The app has good sharing options built in. Images save at over 8 MP for imported images, but only 5.1 megapixels for images shot with its own camera — 1989 x 2561. Another one of the app’s quirks. One ding for that.

Overall, it’s an interesting photo app, but it has its quirks that may put you off. If you like unique black & white photography, Koloid is worth a look. Its unique process is fun and might even inspire you to learn a little about its photographic history. Its effects are unique and you might find it worth working around the app’s quirks. I think it’s an interesting effect and a fun app to play with. The developer is involved and responsive and I’d be willing to bet that many of these quirks will be fixed as the app is updated.

Koloid is $0.99 in the App Store. 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.

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Despite its colorful Mod logo, Koloid's roots are firmly planted in 19th century photography. Koloid is based on the old collodion photographic process introduced in the late 1850's. It's a process that almost entirely replaced the daguerreotype within a relatively short time. It had a good run of over 30…

Koloid for iPhone

Effects Quality
Resolution & Image Quality
User Interface
Price / Value

Interesting

A good, interesting, but not essential black & white app that creates unique vintage effects. I thought the UI was fun to play with. The app has its quirks, though. Needs to give more customizaton options back to the user.

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Marty Yawnick

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.

  • kentkangley

    I saw your tweet about this yesterday and decided to give it a try. I’ve gotten rid of about 75% of the photo apps I’ve downloaded, but this looks to be a keeper, even with the quirks. It does something no other app does which is a definite positive, it’s fun to use, and it produces very pleasing results.

  • Giuseppe Navone

    Purchased and tested immediately, I find it a good application, with good results, maybe not immediately immediate, but you will get some nice white and blacks that sometimes seem true to inkjet prints, thanks for letting me know.