You could hardly be blamed for thinking that with the popularity of Instagram, competing camera apps would have shriveled and died. It’s true that the filter-and-share app dominates, but an army of others soldier on. Koloid (99 cents, iOS), is unique in that you have to spread “developer” fluid across your image by moving your phone. The results are unique, and unlike anything you can get with other camera apps.
Just about every app has the same photo-taking experience: point, shoot, add filters, share. Sometimes, you might import an older photo from your camera roll. Koloid is different, demanding as the aptly named developer (pun?) “19TH CENTURY APPS SP Z O O” suggests, a more 19th century approach.
A Developing Story
The first screen you arrive on is the viewfinder, which resembles a plate-glass negative from back in the day. The view is locked in portrait orientation, so don’t try flipping your iPhone on its side for a wider photo. However, you can switch to a more Instagram-compliant square format from the settings menu.
Take a photo by tapping the camera button at the bottom of the screen. Fans of using the volume button to take a photo are out of luck. Next, select how much virtual collodion developer fluid you want to use. Less fluid covers less space and can leave a ghostly effect on photos. More fluid develops faster, but can overdevelop some areas and even burn the image black.
Shake your phone to deploy the fluid, and then move the collodion around the screen by tilting the phone. This may seem dumb and gimmicky (it’s at the very least gimmicky), but you can get some neat effects that aren’t really possible in apps like Hipstamatic and Instagram that are based solely on filters. You can burn out some areas or leave sections undeveloped. It’s tricky, made all the trickier by the lugubrious movement of the collodion.
When you’re done, press the Ready button and you’ll be presented with the final version of your photo. All the streaks and burns are present in the black-and-white image, but I was disappointed that the image seemed clearer and had more contrast than the one I had been developing. Perhaps that’s the result of a digital dip in water to get the collodion off, but it still seems odd. The app sticks very true to its gimmick, sorry, concept, in most other ways—like not allowing you to re-edit pictures—that I wish the final image was exactly the one I developed.
Sharing and Storing
Koloid has its own little gallery built right into the app, though it will save to your camera roll, too. Note that unlike Instagram, it doesn’t save a copy of the raw, un-developed image.
You can share directly to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, and Instagram from within Koloid. You can also export images directly from Koloid via email and text message. Unlike Flickr and Instagram, Koloid is just a camera toy; there’s no website or larger social service backing it up.
Ready to Develop?
Koloid is fun, and I’m already looking forward to my Instagram friends asking me how I got the effects on my images. It doesn’t have a lot of depth, but it delivers on what it promises and the price is reasonable.
I would like to see Koloid loosen up a bit and allow me to import photos from my camera roll, and allow landscape-oriented photos. Just because we’re playing at the 1890s, doesn’t mean we can’t do better.
Koloid needs a little more time to develop (definitely a pun), but it’s a fun, cheap addition to your digital camera bag.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc