Review: 1-Hour Photo (iOS)

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It was shortly after I arrived in Istanbul that I read about an app that holds your images for an hour before letting you see them. The app is called 1-Hour Photo, and it renders your images in black and white. It’s predicated on a very simple concept: what if you had to wait an hour to see the photos you take with your phone–just like you used to when getting your film developed. This is a reality for anyone who’s shot and still shoots film, but for those who haven’t had the experience of shooting film, it’s something brand new. I shot film for several years before transitioning to digital, and have only managed to sporadically shoot film the past few years. So, 1-Hour Photo was a welcome addition to my phone, but it surely was not without its hiccups.

Pros and Cons

Pros

– The one-hour delay adds a nice element of surprise to the image making process

– The app does a swell job rendering the images in black and white

Cons

– No manual control other than pressing the shutter

– Can be difficult to focus

Gear Used

-I used 1-Hour Photo on my iPhone 5 loaded up with iOS 7

Main Features

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This screenshot shows the entirety of the app in action. The one main feature is that the app holds your images for one hour before delivering them in black and white. When you take a photo by pressing the big grey button, the Photos Processing number will increase by 1, and it will add 60 to Mins to Next Ready.

Ease of Use

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The app is as simple as pressing a button, but unfortunately, that’s about all you can do. Save for the fact that you can tap anywhere on the image plane to focus, you can’t control exposure, flash or anything the dedicated camera app can do. Similarly, you’re relegated to the rear camera, which is fine by my standards since it’s going for a film feel. It can, however, be frustrating for those accustomed to the limited controls afforded by the iPhone’s camera, and it’ll be more frustrating for anyone using the Manual app, which gives you full control of the camera’s settings.

Hopefully, in the future the company will unlock more controls.

Real Life Applications

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This app is best used when you have time. Don’t expect to take shots of your lunch and immediately throw them on Instagram or anywhere else. Take an hour or two outside to walk around and shoot at your leisure. Shoot first and think about it later when the images come in. By not being able to chimp right away, you can slow down and experience what’s happening around you.

Granted, the previous sentence could just as easily apply to film, but for lack of a film camera, you have 1-Hour Photo. The app may cost $0.99, but it’s limitless shooting after that. At least, until you fill up your phone.

Conversely, you could also use this in a rush, where the moment is gone the second you blink, and what you see in an hour may be great or may be awful. But that’s the risk you take.

Extra Image Samples

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Conclusion

Likes

-The black-and-white images are contrasty

-The hour delay makes the process richer

Dislikes

-Lack of controls can make it frustrating to use

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1-Hour Photo is a solid addition to anyone’s phone. It offers a rethinking of mobile photography, and shifts the focus away from its instantaneous nature. An image that looks alright a second after you take it may not look good an hour later. It’s surprising how easy it is to forget what you took, only to be surprised or dismayed an hour later when the push notification lets you know that your photos are ready. It won’t fully replicate the feel of shooting film and getting the roll back, but it’s the best approximation of that feeling on a phone.

four-star-Phoblographer-Star-rating

1-Hour Photo receives four out of five stars.