100 Cameras in One
Version 2.1
Price: $1.99

Rating 3 stars

Bottom Line: Not bad. Not great. Some of the filters can produce unique, pleasing results. Many of them seem to be just overlays or filler.

At or near the number 1 photo app recently is photographer Trey Ratcliff’s 100 Cameras In 1 by SIC Media. It’s been out for a while and I held off reviewing the app until now.

The app features 100 different effects that use mixes of hardlight, overlay, and more with “beautiful textures from around the world.” I’d been immune to the call of this app, but with it currently entrenched in the Top 10 selling photo apps in the App Store, I thought I’d give it a look. The app currently is getting a lot of 4 and 5 star ratings in App Store reviews.

For me, it’s not bad, but it doesn’t get me really too excited, either.

100 Cameras in One is mainly a texture app. It’s square format only. It doesn’t apply vintage or retro effects per se, but among its filters are a lot of color shifts and a lot of overlays which apply subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) textures to your photos. Some of them work better than others for me.

Some of the texture overlays include various blurs, stressed metallic, stuccos, rocks, and other industrial and organic textures. Unlike some texture apps, 100 Cameras don’t always simply sit on top of the image. I found that even with many of the less-subtle textures, the app defaults to settings that allow the textures to become part of the image, rather than be the image. Many times, textures are applied with a nice complimentary color shift. There are also textures that simulate light leaks and other film damage, as well as random abstract blur and color textures.

The textures and overlays are high resolution and most are high quality and well-rendered. The textures are not random. You can apply the same texture 100 times and get the exact same overlay every time. There’s a slider on every screen to adjust the intensity of each effect. Every time you change to another filter, the slider nicely returns to the default position for each filter — the recommended starting point for most of the filters.

Effects can be stacked on each other. Given the nature of the textured effect, though, that can get pretty messy most of the time. Once a filter is applied, there is no undo.

Despite the number of effects, the interface is easy to navigate and the app is very easy to use. There are 100 filters, each with a very Zen name, like “when I felt sad and you were not there” or “it was never quite like that for me” (which I suppose is Zen for monochrome…). They’re pretty useless descriptions and frustrating when trying to remember your favorites or sharing your filter recipes. The filter names are sorted with no easily visible logic by emotions and elements (what???) — “gentle”, “serenity”, “madness”, “quixotic”. Fortunately, the app makes it easy to select and find your favorites. Ironically, this feature is simply called “Favorites”.

Some effects are more useful than others. I got the feeling that some of these were filler, added to push it up to that magic number of “100”. Some of the filters work for me. Other textures really got in the way of the image — any image I applied it to. The intensity slider helps, but many of the filters in this app are unusable for me.

Although some of the effects resemble stressed film, this is not a retro camera effect app. While there are a ton of textures, some more useful than others, there are no analog film effects or textures. You’ll find nothing like “shot in plastic on a cloudy afternoon”.

You can easily share your creations from the app to Facebook, Twitter or Flickr. 100 Cameras surprisingly does not have its own community like Hipstamatic, Lomolomo, or Instagram. You can also print straight from the app to an AirPrint-enabled device. Cool! 100 Cameras is also Game Center enabled. The more you use it, the more points you score in Apple’s Game Center — a very competitive concept for this otherwise very Zen-infulenced app.

100 Cameras In 1 saves at 1936×1936 px on an iPhone 4 and several lower resolutions as well. It strips out all EXIF data from an image. It’s old iPhone friendly and works on any iDevice running iOS 3.1 or newer.

Fans of Trey Ratcliff’s HDR photography will be extremely disappointed that 100 Cameras in One does not give your iPhoneography the expanded spectrum and warm tones of trey’s commercial photography — unless it’s hidden in a filter called something like “eating spaghetti with a wooden fork” or something like that. In fact, the only HDR image you’re likely to see with this app is the tree on the splash screen.

I’m not a huge fan of texture apps. In other apps, the textures applied typically look heavy handed and often clash with the image. Not so with 100 Cameras. I bought my copy on sale for 99¢. For a buck, I’m glad I have it. It’s a good texture app, but in testing the app, I found myself favoriting only about a dozen or so of the 100 filters.

100 Cameras in One is a good texture app and doesn’t suffer as badly from many of the faults of other apps in this class. The way in which the textures are overlaid is often more subtle and the complimentary color shifts set this app apart from other texture overlay apps. For iPhoneographers who want to experiment with texture overlays, this is a good app to have. For others, despite the current Top 10 status of this app, it’s not an essential purchase.

100 Cameras in One normally sells for $1.99, but is on sale now for a limited time for only 99¢.

100 Cameras in 1 - Stuck In Customs