Plastica 2.0 wants a place in your virtual retro camera bag

Plastica is an iOS app from Korean developer Graf. It originally came out in January of this year, then took a short hiatus after some negative user feedback. It is now back in the App Store with an all-new version 2.0, which the developer hopes will address a lot of complaints that users had about the previous incarnation. The app is free, with additional in-app purchases, and is currently featured on the App Store front page. The App Store description implies that the app’s current free status is temporary.

Plastica is a retro camera app that many have compared to the popular Hipstamatic, an app which has been around since the relatively early days of the App Store and which is credited by many as one of the apps that popularized the “vintage photo” craze that social media is still in the midst of. Much like Hipstamatic, Plastica’s interface is skeumorphic and designed to resemble the back of a real camera. The majority of the display is taken up by the virtual viewfinder, which includes “rule of threes” guidelines to assist with shot composition, a digital zoom slider and a large shutter release button. A button in the top left provides easy access to past photos taken with Plastica, while buttons at the top and bottom right allow access to the app’s various customization functions.

Creating a “look” in Plastica is made up of a combination of selecting a lens, film and additional options such as flash, whether to use the front or back camera and a “toy camera”-style tilt-shift/blurred extremities option. The selected options can then either be applied to a photo taken with the device’s camera or, optionally, to an image from the user’s photo library. This latter feature is a marked distinction from Hipstamatic, which only allows effects to be applied to new photos. Effects are not previewed in real time, however — the user must take the photo and then “develop” it with the lens and film combination to see the results. There is an option in the app’s settings to save the original image, however, which allows the user to try several different effects using the exact same image if they desire. There’s also a “randomize” button that selects a random combination of lens and film to help with discovery of specific effects.

Plastica 2.0 may superficially resemble Hipstamatic to an uncanny degree, but it carries a number of pleasing little features that will appeal to photography enthusiasts. Most notable among these is the option to use a larger viewfinder and set focus and exposure points independently from one another. It is also capable of exporting full-resolution square (2448×2448 on iPhone 5 and 4S) images if the user desires — though this facility is turned off by default, and some App Store reviewers have claimed that applying effects to photo library images resize them to the smaller 852×852 resolution.

The app is free to download but monetizes through three $0.99 in-app purchases, each of which includes three new lenses and three new types of film. The app is perfectly usable without making any in-app purchases and is not interrupted with ads — the optional extras simply provide the user with greater flexibility.

The app’s social functions include the ability to share to Twitter, Facebook and Flickr in a single action. Twitter support uses iOS 5’s built-in social sharing functionality, while both Facebook and Flickr integration requires login through the external Facebook app and the Web respectively.

On the whole, Plastica 2.0 is a good evolution of what was a relatively poorly-received app on its original release. The developer has demonstrated that it is willing to listen to user feedback and implement significant changes to the app based on that feedback. While version 2.0 has a few minor issues here and there, it is a significant step forward for the app, and one which successfully distinguishes it from other retro photo apps. If the developer can ensure it stays on top of updates and continues to implement user suggestions, it’s entirely possible it will have a strong success on its hands.

You can follow Plastica’s progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.