TinType by Hipstamatic ($0.99) by Hipstamatic, LLC is a new photo app that recreates the tintype effect right on your iPhone. It’s the newest app from Hipstamatic, going along with Oggl and Cinamatic. If you’re a fan of their previous apps, then this is another one that’s worth checking out for your collection. It is based off the Hipstamatic SnapPaks of the same name.
I’ve started getting into photography ever since I got my hands on the iPhone many years ago, and it’s been a blooming hobby ever since. I love going out and taking photos with my iPhone 6, because it’s the best camera that I have at the moment, and I feel as if I don’t need anything else (lugging around more equipment is not fun). Naturally, I’ve gone through many camera and photo editing apps, with my favorites being Camera+, VSCO Cam, and SKRWT at the moment, but I’m always on the lookout for new ones to check out. I’ve been a fan of Hipstamatic ever since it first came out about four years ago, so I was eager to give TinType a try once I heard of its release.
While the icon for TinType has a retro look and feel to it, the app itself has a simple interface that does not get in the way of creating hauntingly beautiful portraits on your iPhone. It’s minimal and flat, so it goes well with iOS overall. It’s also fast and responsive, so there’s no waiting for things to render. TinType is designed for portraits, so it launches to the front-facing camera by default, but you can change it to the rear camera if desired. Unfortunately, though, there is no option for flash or manual focus control.
TinType launches into the camera capture by default, but you can also import photos from your Camera Roll into the app as well. Once an image is in TinType, it will apply the default tintype settings on, which results in a black-and-white grainy image that is like a blast from the past. Of course, while the default settings looks good, you are not limited to it and can customize the photo yourself. There are four adjustable options in TinType to help you create the perfect portrait: Style and Crop, Plate Grain and Frame, Eyes, and Depth of Field.
The first tab is where you have Style and Crop. You can choose between black-and-white or color for the image, and have it full size or square crop. I wish that TinType allowed users to refine the style intensity and contrast, but alas, you cannot do that at the moment. Hopefully this can change in the future. The square crop is most useful if you intend on sharing the image to Instagram.
Plate Grain determines how noisy the photo looks. The default is set to 50, but you can change it from zero (no noise) to 100 (the noisiest). I found the slider to change the value of the grain to be fairly accurate and precise, with little movement after I released my finger from it. TinType will always put a grungy border on the photo, but if you prefer borderless pictures, just tap on the frame to remove it (or bring it back).
The Eyes feature is to change the intensity of the eyes in a portrait. If you want a more realistic tintype effect, then you will want to increase the value. But if you don’t want to alter the eyes and just have then normal, just set it to zero. The Depth of Field will focus on the center of the image and blur out the rest.
The biggest problem with TinType, though, comes when you attempt to save a photo with your changes. This is because in order to keep the changes, TinType wants to overwrite the original photo. If you do not opt for modifying the original, then your changes cannot be saved. You can revert back to the original, but the edits will be discarded. It’s one or the other, which is a serious flaw.
This provides a bad user experience and means that you should only use TinType if you just don’t care about keeping the original, non-edited copy. I hope that the developers can rectify this so that it just creates a new, edited copy of the photo instead of overwriting the original. All photo editing apps should have non-destructive editing, so I’m rather disappointed with this app, because it says in the description it’s non-destructive, but this is just not true. While I can revert an image back to the original state, none of my changes will get saved, so what’s the point?
Final results in TinType can be sent to Instagram, or you can use the Share Sheet to open it or share it with another app, including AirDrop.
I am enjoying the simplicity of TinType, but that all means nothing if I cannot save a photo without losing the original. I hope that the developers change this sooner rather than later, because it’s the only thing that is preventing me from fully recommending this app right now. It’s just unacceptable to force the user into choosing between the original or the edited version. It would also be nice to have more options for how the photos turn out, because right now it is using the same mask over and over, just giving you the choice to tweak the appearance slightly.
If you want to check out TinType for yourself, you can get it on the App Store on the iPhone for $0.99. It’s a fast and easy way to get tintype results on your iPhone, but I warned you about the saving over the original issue.