Review: RNI Colibri for iOS (Apple iPhone 6s)

It’s sad to believe that there are very few slide films left in the world. Their beauty, when worked correctly, is absolutely stunning–but the processes to develop some of them, combined with just how careful you need to be with them, lead to their decline. Recently, Really Nice Images took it upon themselves to create an app that’s all about emulating the look of these slide films in their app RNI Colibri. For a while now, RNI has been really popular with photographers and uses science and a ton of research to get their looks just right.

Though the results still aren’t quite what film can do at its very best, the majority of the digital community that knows little to nothing about how film truly works is bound to be happy with some of the results.

Ease of Use

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RNI Colibri is kind of like the company’s Flashback app where you sit there and kind of just let the app cycle through a variety of looks until you get the one that you truly like. When you’re happy with a look or you get something sort of close to it, you can then modify the look a bit more. There aren’t as many editing modules as RNI films, but for most the people this app is going after, that’s fine.

When you’re all done just export. Seems simple enough, right?

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Well, to be honest I think this is an app designed for those of us that have what’s called “Tinder Thumb”. That’s essentially when you’re on the Tinder app all day and your thumb starts to hurt because you’re swiping all day. Granted, what you’re doing here is pressing the film roll to get a new look. But it’s a similar deal and it’s one of the reasons why I don’t personally like RNI Flashback or RNI Colibri anywhere as much as I love RNI Films. In Films, I can go in and get exactly what I want. And if I’m still not getting it, I can find an easier way to get it.

Granted, I don’t spend hours of my life wasting away on Tinder, and I’m a more advanced photographer who knows a lot about films and the look I’m going for. Not everyone can be this blessed; though I can’t believe I just typed that.

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To be fair, RNI Colibri lets you save certain emulsions as your favorites. But I’ve always felt this is just too long of a process, and I don’t like using the same emulsion or editing process all the time. Indeed, there are images where Portra just works a million times better than Ektar. And in the case of RNI Colibri, there are moments best seen in Ektachrome vs Velvia.

If I’m hanging out in my local watering hole one night because I’m constantly being pinged by people on the web and want to actually be around people, but also want to catch up on my own personal interests (I’m weird like that, but sometimes I can go for days without leaving my apartment due to work schedules), then I’ll sit there, load up a photo, and mess around with it on my iPhone, choosing emulsion after emulsion until I get the look I want. But more often then not, I’ll just end up going into RNI Films and working from there. It just makes so much more sense to me.

Image Quality

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Kodak Ektachrome (10 of 15)

For the most part, RNI Colibri does something really cool: almost every photo emulsion is balanced to daylight. At least from what I’ve seen, the emulsions will work with a photo to make it more and more like film in this way. Indeed, there is no flash, daylight fluorescent, cloudy, or underwater white balance with film. You tend to get either Daylight or Tungsten.

But RNI does something else here with applying other random edits like adding dust. More often than not, the images don’t really end up looking like true film in my eyes. Like all other film, it needs a lot of light to really make it work. You can compare and contrast this in the real film images above and those below in the next section.

RNI and no other company out there have created Tungsten film presets, though the day that they do I’ll be jumping around for joy and messing around with them, getting little to no work done at all.

The quality that Colibri gives you though is pretty nice. The images feel like film in some ways, though if you’re an experienced slide film shooter you’ll most likely know better.

I’m going to give this part two sections: those images shot with real film that I’ve used before, and those with RNI. Granted, I’m using Ektachrome here because I loved it. Not every slide film looks like Ektachrome and I get that.

Shot with Ektachrome

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Kodak Ektachrome (1 of 15)

Kodak Ektachrome

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Kodak Ektachrome Scans (8 of 16)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Kodak Ektachrome (11 of 15)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Kodak Ektachrome (8 of 15)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Kodak Ektachrome (2 of 15)

Edited with RNI Colibri

Now here are some images edited with Colibri

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Conclusions

In my very personal opinion, I’m not a fan of RNI Colibri. But again though, I must truly reiterate that I’m a special breed. I’ve got slide film, loved it, missed it, and realized that this isn’t it. Other photographers that haven’t shot film will fall for it. If I want a true film look, I’m going to go to the tried and true RNI Films app. I’m very particular and don’t like it when someone messes with a look I’ve worked hard to get, and I often don’t like being suggested certain looks or having less editing modules.

Curation Editor Anthony would like this app because he’s a newer generation of shooter. But Jamiya, Daniel, and Mason probably wouldn’t. As it is, it’s a free app and lots of photographers are bound to fall in love with it.

But me? I’ll pass this time, RNI.