Photo App Review: Belowrez is More Fun Than I Thought It Would Be.
I discovered Belowrez when it was discounted as an App Store freebie. I download all of them to find out which ones are overlooked gems waiting to be discovered and which freebie apps should be avoided.
Belowrez is an iPhone photo app that is one of the gems. It lets you capture very rough iPhoneography in the early early early digital imaging style. I mean like your parent’s 8086 desktop. It’s a little rough in its version 1.01 release, but I found it more fun than I thought it would be.
The early years of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s are dark times in digital photography. Despite the fact that these really are digital lo-fi’s classic years, I rarely talk about them. Early digital images lack the smoothness and textures that early analog photography has. Visually, the images have a roughness that makes me uncomfortable.
But, it’s this pixelation and lack of color information (and image size) that makes early digital imaging unique.
Belowrez is a new app that lets you capture the look of low resolution pixel photgraphs in glorious simulated classic PC graphics modes — 4 color CGA modes, enhanced 16 color EGA, and even 256 color VGA! And with colors based on those used in video game systems like the NES and Atari 2600.
The Belowrez viewfinder shows previews in realtime letting you see what you’ll get as you shoot. You can easily adjust the pixel size — the “chunk” — by pinching onscreen as you preview. There are nine classic color palettes.
The pixelated effects of Belowrez are surprisingly quite good. They simulate a color range from 2-bit color modes to 8-bit color modes, increasing contrast and posterization. Because it’s used with the latest iPhone technology, I think it looks much better visually than I remember those old beige monitors to actually look back in the day. I mean, so I’ve heard….
I like the lofi high contrast effects Belowrez creates. They are much better than other classic VGA-style photo apps I’ve tried. Although these images pixelated low-res VGA images, photos save to camera roll at 8 MP resolution on an iPhone 5.
Belowrez needs an option to save your original image as well and I wouldn’t use it yet to shoot any important, archival photos. Belowrez is a camera-only app right now and it needs to be able to import photos from your camera roll. Points off for both.
Even the shutter button is cleverly pixelated. In the past, I haven’t liked other attempts at VGA revival but I like Belowrez more than I thought I would. The simulated low-res, lo-fi effects it creates make this a great project camera or just another fun way to create different looking snapshots for Facebook and Instagram.
Belowrez takes you back to the original digital lo-fi. It’s not for everyone, but its chunky, colorful, high contrast effects make this app much more fun than you would first think.
Belowrez is normally $1.99 in the App Store, which may be a little pricey for this app right now without the ability to import images. It’s been FREE for a couple of days and will probably go back up any minute, so grab this one fast.
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod touch (4th generation), iPod touch (5th generation), iPad 2 Wi-Fi, iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G, iPad (3rd generation), iPad Wi-Fi + 4G, iPad (4th generation), iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular (4th generation), iPad mini and iPad mini Wi-Fi + Cellular. Requires iOS 6.1 or later. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.
App Store link: Belowrez – Pixel Camera