I'm a bit of a photography hobbyist. Starting with SLRs and medium format cameras back in high school and college, I would clock in many hours in the schools' darkrooms back in the day. In the 90's it was all about the digital compacts, starting with 2 mp Cybershot models and moving on up to 8 mp IXUS's. I then switched back to manual cameras, playing around with Lomos, Actionsamplers and the like. The 2000's is the age of DSLRs, which is what I use now. So I've pretty much tried it all. But for the past few years I've been taking much less photos. The size and weight of my DSLR made it difficult to take it around everywhere, and I wasn't happy anymore with the quality I got from my digital cameras. Plus I had too many goddamn cameras!
Last August I purchased my third iPhone, the iPhone 4, with its HD screen and 5-mp camera. I loved that I could finally have an excellent camera inside my phone. Even then, I only used to it to for visual note-taking and the occasional family photo.
And then along came Instagram.
I've played around with other photo apps before, but there was something about Instagram that got me hooked from the start.
1. Its fast, responsive, and easy to use: upon opening the app, its clear exactly what you need to do. Theres a very simple and single-minded path, making it no-fuss and reliable, perfect for spontaneous shots…..its not trying to be a whole bunch of different things (which is where other photo apps have failed), and its great at what it does do.
2. Your photos look damn good, maybe even a little bit better than it should. Their camera filters are that good. This was a huge insight on the app developers part. Their focus on making these kick-ass vintage camera emulators totally nailed the reason why photo hobbyists love playing around with cameras - because of the individuality and nuance each camera gave to their photos. The Lomo is an excellent example of this, known for its contrasty, saturated colors and grittiness. I used to tweak my digital photos in Photoshop to make them look Lomo-like! To get the same effect with Instagram, you press the "Lomo-fi" button. Purists may condone this, but I think its amazing what the developers have done. Along with all the other filters, Its like carrying 15 cameras around with you. Now with the new tilt-shift filter, you now have instant (simulated) depth of field. It just gets better and better.