10 years later, Hipstamatic is still around and deep in its retro roots

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new logo for Hipstamatic X
Hipstamatic X hits the App Store Tuesday.
Photo: Hipstamatic

The smartphone photography tidal wave started with ripples from Hipstamatic. It was the first app with filters for snap-happy iPhone users to change the look of their photos.

A tap of the finger and that ho-hum photo of your dog became a work of art, quirky and painterly with the look of a photo spit out by an old Polaroid camera. Quickly, it became a tool for serious artists and photographers.

Hipstamatic celebrates 10 years this Tuesday with a free download for iPhone called Hipstamatic X. The anniversary app will bring some of the simple, original analog charm of the first app as well as a stable of old-school cameras, from Pinhole to Tintype.

It will also include a new Eazy Camera, which uses machine learning to automatically apply an appropriate filter. The app is currently available through TestFlight until Tuesday, when it is released for download on the App Store.

“It’s seriously insane because this release is like starting over,” Mario Estrada, Hipstamatic’s director of fun, told Cult of Mac. “There’s a whole generation of people that have no idea the work our community of photojournalists, fashion photographers and recreational artists put in establishing the iPhone camera as a legitimate tool.”

A decade of Hipstamatic

UI screen for Hipstamatic X
The Eazy Camera comes with Hipstamatic X.
Photo: Hipstamatic

Hipstamatic was one of the first apps to let users style their photos and was Apple’s first App of the Year. Hipstamatic gained considerable press when the New York Times published front-page photos from combat made with an iPhone and filtered through the app.

Hipstamatic survived financial struggles, downsizing and criticism that it missed an opportunity that Instagram took full advantage of with filters and photo-sharing.

Millions of photos are uploaded and shared daily on Instagram while Hipstamatic aims at a more select group. Its film packs, cameras and lenses appeal to artists and photographers as the image quality improves with every new iPhone.

Critics of Instagram say certain disturbing trends arose as the photo-sharing app has grown monstrously popular. It is often blamed for social woes, including bullying, fake likes and unrealistic beauty standards projected through brands and influencers. Pundits wonder if people are too busy shooting their moments to enjoy them.

Meanwhile, Hipstamatic keeps its focus on old-fashioned notions of fun and magic in photography. The anniversary app with new Eazy Camera, the app founders hope, is a return to a care-free way to live with photography.

“The fun of photography has really been drained over the years as we all worry about perfection,” co-founder Lucas Allen Buick, wrote in announcing Hipstamtic X. “The brilliance of a point-and-shoot is that it captures a moment in time and as the photographer, you are free to continue to experience those moments without stopping to edit and share.”