Sunday, September 25, 2011

Instagram - Best iPhone Photography App - Review

Instagram is a very simple app: it takes pictures, lets you add preset filters to them and then share them with your friends. The filters are applied with one tap and will make all but the least inspired photographers look like they have an eye for a snap. Most importantly, though, Instagram will make you look for excuses to take photographs.
I ignored Instagram for some time because the way it was described to me - as ‘a Twitter for photographs’ - put me off. I like Twitter because it communicates information quickly and efficiently. I like photography because it’s aesthetically pleasing. I didn’t see how one concept mapped onto the other.
I should have just got on and tried it. I’ve found that Instagram is my weekend Twitter. I tweet less at weekends and use Instagram more. It’s fun to skim through your friends photos, some of which are incredible pictures, while others are just quirky or silly. And it’s rewarding when a friend likes one of your images - it reminds you that your picture hasn’t just disappeared into a void somewhere.
This week Instagram was updated to make user profiles more informative. It’s now possible to add a short biography to your Instagram page, which is helpful because users’ identities on Instagram are sometimes mysterious. There’s also a nice grid layout for looking through someone’s images.
As Instagram grows, the company will have to decide whether it finds a way to archive and make accessible old photos or whether it treats them as ephemeral, like tweets. I hope they do find a way to keep them. Photos are an end in themselves, most of the time, in a way that tweets aren’t.

There is still room for improvement in Instagram. I’d like to be able to see how many times I’ve used each filter, for example, but that’s perhaps because I’m slightly obsessed with stats. It would also be interesting to be able to lay one filter on top of another. At the moment you can do this by using other apps or repeatedly putting a photo through Instagram but it would be nice to do it within the app.

It also irritates me that I can’t take upside down photos - once again, I might be on my own there. Those are minor quibbles. More serious is the fact that the app functions very poorly when a 3G connection isn't available.

Nevertheless, it's a great app. If you love photography then you should try Instagram - it will appeal to your sense of fun. If you don’t love photography, Instagram can fix that for you.


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