The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Hipstamatic

Nancy Messieh 02-10-2012

hipstamatic guideThe iPhone photography app Hipstamatic can be a little overwhelming at first, trying to understand how all the different combinations work and what kind of effects you can create using the app. When you first download Hipstamatic, if you haven’t already, you’ll find that it comes with a few pre-set lenses, film and flashes, which you can use in any combination of your choice.


You can purchase additional ‘HipstaPaks’, which usually shouldn’t cost you more than $0.99 a pop. HipstaPaks will have at least one film and lens, but some also come with flashes, and camera cases if you want to jazz up your app a bit. The app itself will cost you $1.99, although it’s occasionally available on sale for $0.99.

Getting Started With Hipstamatic

Using the app couldn’t be easier. When you first launch it, you will see the viewfinder, and buttons to access your favourite film and lens combinations, prints, a button to swipe to switch on the flash, and a way to access the various camera options.

The app loads ready for you to take photos with the pre-set combination of several lens and film. Hitting the little arrow button in the bottom right hand corner of the app will allow you to try out different film, lens and flash combinations. To change the lens, simply swipe the lens from back and forth to go through the available lenses. To change the film, hit the film icon in the menu and swipe up and down.

hipstamatic guide

Hitting the camera options button takes you to where all the action is – allowing you to choose your film, lens, flash (optional) and also allows you to access the Hipstamart to buy new film and lens combos:


guide to hipstamatic

To buy new Hipstapaks, hit the cart icon and it will launch the Hipstamatic store or Hipstamart, which you can also swipe through to discover all the options available in the app.

guide to hipstamatic

New items are constantly added to the store, and on occasion, some of the limited items that have been removed from the store make a brief comeback, so always be sure to get what you want when you can. If you have to restore your phone or update the OS, all of you Hipstamatic purchases can be retrieved at the click of a button.


Understanding Lens & Film Combinations

The first step to understanding how Hipstamatic works is to understand how the film and lens type affect your photography.

The lens determines the tones, while the film determines the frame, and in some cases also changes the colors of the photo. A great place to start when trying to figure out what each lens or film does is to use Hipstamatic’s own Field Guide [Broken URL Removed] which comes complete with photo examples of various combinations. It’s also good to simply experiment with the app and try out various combinations and see which ones you like best. Once you come across a combination that works for you, be sure to save it to your favorites for easy access.

To add combinations to your favorites, hit the star button underneath the viewfinder. This will open up the favorites panel. Tap the camera and you can manually select each feature and save to your favorites, or simply save the latest combination that you were using when you accessed your favorites.

guide to hipstamatic


If you want to get creative with your choices, you can simply shake the phone and it will randomly select the film, lens and flash.

Taking & Sharing Photos

Once you’ve got the lens and film you want to take a photo, in one of two ways. The Hipstamatic viewfinder doesn’t make much use of the iPhone’s screen. If you want to make the viewfinder a little bigger, simply double tap it, and it will open up a larger viewfinder making it easier to see exactly what is going to end up in your photo. To take a photo with the small viewfinder, hit the yellow button. To take a photo with the large viewfinder, simply tap the screen, and it will immediately revert to the smaller viewfinder. There is no way to make it automatically launch with the larger viewfinder which is a feature which could definitely come in handy.

Once you’ve taken the photo it will take a few seconds to ‘develop’. The number of photos developing can be seen at the bottom left-hand corner of the screen, and the button will turn green once the photos are developed. Hitting the small picture frame launches recent prints where you can view all your prints.

guide to hipstamatic app


From here you can share individual photos to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr or Twitter, and also choose whether or not to share the equipment used. Photos are also automatically saved to your camera roll as well.

guide to hipstamatic app

Double-tapping a photo displays the equipment used, the date the photo was taken as well as its location.

Film & Lens Combinations

Now the most important part of learning how to use Hipstamtic is getting a good grasp on the various lens and film combinations. We’ve put together a list of the combinations of all the possibilities when using the film and lens options that come with the app for free. The Hipstamatic Field Guide is also a good place to look for finding out which combinations work best.


Below are a series of the same photo taken using the film Blanko with the six free lenses Jane, John S, Jimmy, Kaimal Mark II, Buckhorst H1 and Wonder. Wonder and it’s film W40 do not come with Hipstamatic when you first download it, but are available as a free download from the HipstaMart at the moment.

The image below gives you an idea of what colours and tones each lens provides:

guide to hipstamatic app


The colours remain pretty much the same with these 6 lens options, with the film changing the frame and vignetting. Below is an example of the various effects and frames you’ll get when using the basic film options (all taken using the Jane lens):


The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Hipstamatic blanko1

Ina’s 69:

The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Hipstamatic Inas69

Ina’s 82:

The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Hipstamatic Inas82

Kodot XGrizzled:

The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Hipstamatic Kodot


The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Hipstamatic W40

If you’re a fan of black and white photography, we’d recommend purchasing the Camden HipstaPak [Broken URL Removed] for the BlacKeys SuperGrain Film and the Portland HipstaPak [Broken URL Removed] for the Lucifer VI lens. The combination offers users a final result like this:

hipstamatic guide

Do you have any favourite combinations? Let us know about them in the comments.

Related topics: iPhoneography, Photography, Smartphone Photography.

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  1. Austin Halsell
    October 8, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    Thanks, Nancy, for the informative article! I wish I had read this when I first started using Hipstamatic. It's all information that can be figured out eventually, but it's so much easier to just have it properly explained to you! It seriously took me a month or two to realize that many of the 'films' are just borders or have a minimal lighting affect. I noticed you didn't cover the different flashes though and those throw in whole new element.

    I don't understand the gripes or 'competition' between this and other photo apps. They all have different purposes and are useful in different situations. Hipstamatic is definitely the best mock analogue camera and that's the whole point! It's not focused on social networking like Instagram or photo editing like snapseed. There's a reason why tons of iPhoneographers love and use Hispstamatic as well as other photo apps. All I'm saying is maybe there's enough room on your device for a few photo apps. I know I have and use a ton.

    Oh and my favorite combos are: Buckhorst H1 Lens+Ina's 1969 Film+Cherry Shine Flash and Buckhorst H1+Claunch 72 Monochrome Film+Standard Flash.

    • Nancy Messieh
      October 14, 2012 at 1:59 am

      Thanks Austin! Yeah it took me quite a while to get my head wrapped around all the different combinations but now I know the exact combinations I like.

      I really do think Hipstamatic stands on its own - it's quite a unique app and love the fact that how you snap the photo is what you get - it's like a modern twist on analogue photography - which is pretty cool imo.

      And thanks for sharing your recommendations - will check them out. I have to be honest - I tend not to use the flash at all with my iPhoneography but will give it a try and see what it does for the final product.

  2. Nethu Alahakoon
    October 4, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    is this only for apple..

  3. Harish Jonnalagadda
    October 3, 2012 at 11:39 am

    I also like Instagram filters better..

  4. Félix S. De Jesús
    October 2, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    I'm sorry but I prefer Camera + and Instagram, over this app :(

    • Nancy Messieh
      October 3, 2012 at 8:22 pm

      I see them in very different lights - I'm a big fan of all 3 but I like the fact that you take the photo in hipstamatic and what you get is the final product - it's a little closer to the concept of non-digital photography which can be cool.

  5. Anonymous
    October 2, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    Hipstamastic?? Seriously??

  6. Mac Witty
    October 2, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    Interesting, you get better an better cameras on mobile phones and then people want to have their photos looks as when the cameras was worse

    • Austin Halsell
      October 8, 2012 at 10:29 pm

      It does seem a little backwards, but photographers and enthusiasts have been obsessed with outdated hardware even before smartphones and Instagram. Typically it's in a hobbyist sort of way; a professional photographer might have a particular fondness for a film camera and shoot with it often despite its light leaks, but when he's on the job he uses his DSLR. I do think that people over use the filters though. I don't see why people snapping self pics for facebook need to have a vintage filter all over it.

      Plus, the way I see it, phone cameras are improving in pixels/quality, not really the way cameras 'improved' when moving from film to digital. That was way more drastic of an improvement. Old camera phones never had accidental bokeh effects or vingetting the way that old fim cameras did.