Here’s an idea. Take a great product with one glaringly flawed feature, put together an application that exploits the awfulness of that feature in a few brilliantly simple ways, and then sell it for a few bucks.
Something like a month ago, a $5 app called CameraBag hit the iPhone app store. I read the description, took the risk and bought it. I turns out it’s no more complicated than a few pre-built filters that will take a typically crappy photo with the iPhone’s camera (or let you choose one from your library) and make it look as if it were taken from one of a variety of classic low-quality cameras. You’ve got your Lomo, Holga, 1970’s faded and yellowing print, high-contrast B&W, infrared, and a few more (though you’ll find the first two as “Lolo” and “Helga” in the menu, for trademarks reasons naturally).
It’s basic, it’s slow (the filters take a while to render), the already-low iPhone image quality doesn’t hold up at large sizes after the filter, and it’s nothing I couldn’t do on my own in Photoshop. But I love it for being so simple, and doing such a good job at making lemonade out of the iPhone’s lemon. It turns one of the phone’s most obvious flaws into a desirable feature. Almost.
I put CameraBag to the test on my way out for lunch in Vancouver’s Chinatown last week. Here are some selected photos from the full set on Flickr.