The SwankoLab iPhone app works as a companion app to developer Synthetic Infatuation’s Hipstamatic, which is an app that aims to recreate the feel of shooting film with old-school cameras. SwankoLab lets you take shots already loaded onto your iPhone and edit them using a variety of filters in a virtual darkroom of sorts.
It’s a very clever iPhone app development plan, introducing SwankoLab once kids have already starting enjoying the Hipstamatic app. SwankoLab’s virtual darkroom has a very easy to understand interface, where one button imports a photo from your iPhone and then a scrolling list of filters can be tapped and added to your chemical mix for development.
A minor downside to this decent photography iPhone app is that you’re limited by the number of filters you can place on a photo. When certain effects, like the “mysterious cool blops,” don’t seem to do much, it’s frustrating to not be able to increase their effect a great deal.
That’s not to say all the filters don’t work; most of them function just fine. The warm blur and cool tones filters in particular are quite effective, while the black and white couldn’t work much better than it does.
SwankoLab also comes with a handful of pre-made chemical recipes that you could apply to your photos. Some are better than others, of course, but it’s a cool feature regardless. If there was a way to upload your personal formula to the app, this feature might be even more enticing.
While SwankoLab’s existing filters do a decent job if you’re into casual photo editing, it’s unfortunate you’re not given more control to crop or flip photographs, and it’s frustrating to know there are additional filters that you can purchase when it seems like they should be included in the app in the first place.
Much like the Hipstamatic app’s stated goal, SwankoLab is a fun toy of a photography iPhone app. It would be hard to recommend to serious photographers, though I suppose serious photographers aren’t taking many photos on the iPhone in the first place. That said, if you’re just a weekend warrior looking for a little customization, Swankolab is a good place to start.