Richard Sibley puts the Thirty Six app to the test

Thirty-Six-iPhone-appThirty Six app at a glance:

If you are craving the simplicity of shooting on film, the Thirty Six iPhone app could be for you. Thirty Six may seem like just another iPhone camera app, but it has one key difference: all images are saved within the app, and not on the phone’s built-in photo folder. This facility is key, as you can only view the photos you’ve taken once you export them to your photo folder – or after you’ve taken 36 photos (much like the old days of film photography, where you could only view images once developed).

On exporting you can select your film type, make adjustments to colour and contrast, and even add a vignette effect. However, unlike other apps, colour effects are applied to all images. There’s no picking and choosing. Once finished, all 36 images are then saved to the phone’s photo album.

Of course, you can cheat. You can export after only taking a couple of images, in the same way you can take a film out of the camera before it’s finished. However, there is an incentive to combat this. Your 36 images can be exported in a single image as a faux contact sheet, complete with chinagraph markings circling the images you’ve selected as your favourites. The exported contact sheets look great and, if you’ve been using Thirty Six to shoot a particular event, it serves as a nice reminder in a single image.

My problem with the app was the temptation to finish taking all 36 images in the same way I would on a roll of film – casually snapping away the last few frames at anything, so as not to waste the ‘film’. I realised what I like was the aesthetic of the contact sheet, rather than the exposure limit of the app. In this regard it’s a shame that you can’t import existing images from the photo folder. It would also be nice to have a choice over the colour of the chinagraph markings, or the name of the faux film.

There is scope to expand the app, but overall it seemed to be at odds with the device and, having used it a few times, I’m not sure it will remain on my phone for much longer. If I want to shoot on film, I’ll buy a roll, but it did remind me of how cool editing a contact sheet could be.

SCORE: 3 out of 5

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