Apps v. Settings; Black & White iPhone Photography Tested

Jul 8, 2014
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Apps v. Settings; Black & White iPhone Photography Tested

When it comes to photography, some of the most beautiful around is black and white. The contrast and simplicity makes for some gorgeous shots, but do you need to have an expensive camera to achieve the right effect? Those with iPhones have a few good options that might surprise you.

The apps

A newer app named Lenka is a pretty straightforward app; it does black and white photography. Not a filter or editing tool, Lenka is native black and white shooting. Simple in its aim, Lenka is also one that is simple to use. There are no saturation filters or clever brightness tweaks.

The app is a touch pricey for what it does, but if simplicity is your aim, Lenka provides that. Shedding the other photography stuff makes for a really nice experience, and reminds you that black and white photography is alive and well for mobile.

Several free apps do much the same as Lenka, but aren’t quite as polished or straightforward. Most free black and white photo apps are really just a lot of filters, all black and white. Lenka is new app design theory put to the test, and does well in that regard. Free apps exist to provide the same kind of service, but often fall short of Lenka’s simple brilliance. Keep that in mind when trying to find which may be right for you.

Your existing settings

To be fair, you don’t need an app to take good black and white photography. Though the ease of opening an app and snapping straight away is attractive, a simple toggle in your existing camera app will likely be just as good.

In your camera app, tap the three dots on the lower left which signify filters. The top three filters are varying levels of black and white photography, all with varying levels of balance and noise. They’re presets, really, and serve to give you the exact photo you want.

The Results

Do you need an app? No. Is it better if you’re serious about black and white photography, though? That’s subjective, but we found Lenka to offer pics with less noise than the settings on your stock camera. Free apps with filters were nice, but many take color photos then offer editing straight away — hardly the straightforward experience we want.

If you’re preparing some sort of black and white portfolio, Lenka is a good pick-up. If you just want to take a clever selfie, an app like Lenka might be unnecessary. The gallery up top might help you decide which is best for you.


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