New square format photo app Landcam is getting some coverage on other websites — much of it glowing. I wasn’t really planning on covering it here, but I feel out of fairness there needs to be some balance to the reviews. I like aspects of the app, but overall, Landcam leaves me wanting more. As in more pixels.
Read on for my full hands-on review of this new iPhoneography app that’s now getting some buzz.
Thanks to the popularity of Instagram and its limited number of one-click filters, there’s a huge market for low-res, square format apps that offer filter alternatives. In that regard, Landcam fits the bill perfectly.
Landcam is an easy to use, slick-looking camera and photo app that lets you add filter effects, textures, light leaks, stickers and more.
The app is inspired by Polaroid inventor Edwin Land, whose revolutionary ideas helped push photography into the mainstream. Other than the instant digital photos, that’s where the similarities end between Landcam and a traditional fauxlaroid app.
Landcam is an easy photo app to use. Its flat, modern interface is very easy to figure out. The interface itself is color coordinated and is really nice looking. It reminded me visually of a PANTONE® swatch book. Functionally, editing flows smoothly from one stage to the next. Landcam has a good workflow.
There are a bunch of good looking filters that apply a number of color, brightness, and contrast moves to an image. I like that effects are slider-adjustable. Once applied, effects can be stacked. Many of the filters are subtle enough to allow you to create some interesting blend effects through stacking. All throughout the editing process a great Undo button will take you back to the beginning, one step at a time.
Although they are very usable, filters are obscurely named and along with the accompanying colors of the UI, they are actually a little misleading. Filters are identified by color swatches and are obscurely titled with great-sounding names that sound more like house paints. While I like the look of the interface, my expectation was that the Fern-colored filter would apply an overall Fern colored tint or effect to the image, when in fact it bumps contrast and adds an overall yellowish-green tint to the image. Burst, with its teal swatch, pretty much just brightens the image considerably. Filters kind of apply the color of their swatch, but not really. It’s not bad. It’s just not reliable.
There are also several great black & white filters.
Landcam has some pretty good image fixing tools made easy to use here. In addition to the basic image tweaks, Landcam also has a sharpen tool, saturation, a color temperature adjustment, orange tint and green tint fixes, as well as a good Clarity slider for quickly and easily punching up contrast and vibrance.
For adding finishing touches to your snapshots, the last editing stage lets you choose from one of several basic white frames, add text or hand-drawn “sketches”, light leaks, textures and more.
The frames are all white and all pretty basic, ranging from a basic edge to some geometric shapes that cover up a significant portion of your image. This is not necessarily my style, but the added space could be used for adding short text notes.
The text tool includes plenty of fonts to choose from. Text can be easily moved and resized with pinch gestures. Unfortunately, you are unable to edit type once its set. You have to Undo your line of text and start over. You are limited to two colors for type — white or black. This either keeps things simple or really limits what you can do. As someone who lies red and yellow type for emphasis, I find the type tool limiting compared to other options available.
Sketches are hand-drawn-style stickers that you can place and move over the image. As far as sketches go, there’s a good selection there and a broad range of places, icons and events. There’s even a Texas sticker in there. How did your state do? </bluster> Stickers can be easily moved and sized, but are limited to white only.
There’s a decent selection of light leaks and textures that can be applied, adjusted and rotated, making it easy to avoid effect repetition.
Once finished, you can save and share in app to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and any app that supports Apple’s Open In… feature.
Image size is limited to 640×640 pixels. According to the developer, higher resolution is coming. Full resolution is planned “eventually.”
This is an app that is aimed squarely at Instagram users (pun intended). In that regard, Landcam might be worth a look especially for a buck. It offers far more filter options and tools than Instagram’s basic toolset in an easy to use, slick, iOS 7-style interface. Otherwise, its low resolution makes it unusable for prints, enlargements, or online viewing at large sizes.
Low-res apps have the advantage of being bandwidth-friendly. Low-res photos use much less of your data plan when sharing. If your only goal is to share your photos to Facebook or Instagram without any need to enlarge or print, many of these “bandwidth-friendly” apps will work great for you and open up many new effects possibilities beyond Instagram’s fairly tame selection.
Low resolution preferences aside, I found Landcam to be a decent photo app, but not a great one. It’s a good Instagram front-end, but I wouldn’t use it for more than that. You should be aware of its low resolution — an important point that other reviewers failed to mention in their reviews. Even Instagram saves high res images to your camera roll.
For an Instagram app, there’s a lot that’s good here. It’s pretty to look at and easy to use, although I found some features annoying for the sake of interface style. It’s got a fairly good toolset that’s definitely an improvement over Instagram’s, but many times I found it can be limiting when you actually get your hands dirty with it.
Landcam is $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 6.0 or later. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.
UPDATE 01 08.01.13: Corrected developers plans for full resolution. =M=