Aug 10 AT 9:38 PM Anthony Domanico 19 Comments

Get down with your nostalgic 35mm-loving self: A review of Retro Camera

Those who know me know I am definitely lacking in the graphic design category. Most of my banner images for Android and Me either come from a simple screengrab and quick edit or are the product of our wonderful designer, Angie Strickland.

Now, one thing you probably don’t know about me is that though I suck as a graphic designer, I absolutely love photography. I took a few photography classes in high school and college, and photography is a hobby I would like to do a lot more but haven’t yet found the time to do so. I miss the old 35mm cameras and prefer them to the point-and-shoot digital cameras of today’s world. The pictures just felt more real and seemed to come out better than printing out a digital picture.

A new Android application is taking aim at people like me who long for the return of the 35mm camera. Now, no application is going to actually make your phone spit out film. Retro Camera, however, hopes to antiquate the pictures you take from your Android phone, making your digital photos looking like they came straight out of yesteryear. Retro Camera has four different camera models (and thus, picture types), so your favorite era of photo is a simple point and click away.

Each of the four different models of camera adds slightly different photo effects to the final product. Users can click on the camera details for each of the cameras and use the camera-trition facts (yes, I coined that term just now) to select which type of photo you want to take. After you pick a camera, simply point and shoot like you would for a normal picture. Within about 10-12 seconds (the “developing” phase), you will have a picture that feels as though it was taken in the 1950s to 1980s.

I snapped off a few pictures at work this morning and found the picture effects to be pretty damn cool. Several of my Android-friendly co-workers were easily convinced to download the Retro Camera application and were playing with it the rest of the day.

The one flaw I’ve found with Retro Camera is the sheer length of time it takes to snap a photo. It takes about 1-3 seconds for the shutter to actually go off, and another 10-12 seconds to process/develop the picture. So with a 15 second total picture time, you’re not really going to be using this to snap quick, candid photos, especially if your target is in motion. Where Retro Camera really shines is the more planned-out, perhaps artsy type photos that are more of stationary objects and friends/family.


  • Awesome vintage-y pics
  • Decent selection from four different picture types
  • Darkroom-like viewing of your last 10 pictures taken
  • FREE! (though ad-supported – see CONS below)


  • Takes almost 15 full seconds to take a picture from start to finish. Not good for candid or motion shots.
  • Some minor glitches with pictures not lining up with the viewfinder image
  • Small ads at the bottom of the screen – this is only a minor pet peeve, but may be enough to detract some of you. I didn’t mind them so much.

Final Verdict

Overall, Retro Camera is a very fun nostalgic camera application that is sure to please the photography buff and the common user alike. It may not be enough to replace your camera completely, but is more a fun supplemental application you can use to show of your artistic side. The resulting pictures are undeniably awesome.

We know our app recommendations aren’t for everybody. No matter how awesome an application, people have different tastes and you may or may not like what we think about a certain application. If you’re interested in Retro Camera, we strongly encourage you to head over to the market and try it out for yourself. Retro Camera should work on all Android versions (1.5 and up). As usual, if you’re having problems with the application, don’t hesitate to tell us about them and we will update the post.

camera facts camera options gallery picture select pinhole camera settings share print SS1

Anthony loves all things technology, from hardware to apps and games. You can connect with him via Google+ or Twitter by clicking one of the fancy doo-dads above.

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  • Uncemister

    This app is perfect! The majority of pics that I take are that of random still objects, so I typically have more time to plan out the overall picture. This addition to the camera just makes my artistic shots even better.

  • http://Website jesse

    Fun app i spent at least an hour taking goofy pics to share with others. The only issue i had was the viewfinder not always lining up so i would have to guess at where i was shooting. All and all a great free app.

  • http://Website BoscoH

    Oh, this is fun! fun! fun! The kids will love this.

  • http://Website Miguel

    Small suggestion. You may want to include in the pros or cons whether the app is installable to the SD Card. I find this to be very helpful to allow me to preserve internal memory for more vital apps.

  • FrightenedByPenguins

    I use FXCamera at the moment for artsy pics, which takes about 3 seconds from the press of the button to process a picture and is pretty adjustable.

    Is the camera-tritional power of Retro Camera worth me switching?

    • Auido

      At 4.8MB the install is a bit hefty.

      I like the looks of the camera and the choices of cameras however I could not get the app to save a picture! That’s a minus.

      It has potential but it’s not quite there.

      I’d stick with FXCamera. It seems to have more settings and features.

  • http://Website Brian Douglas Hayes

    I was really excited about this app–I’ve been waiting a long time for something like Hipstamatic to come to Android. Unfortunately, the shutter delay isn’t just a minor con on the list–it makes the app pretty much unusable. These vintage camera apps are supposed to be fun, not frustrating.

    I’m not a fan of the ads, either. Developer: Fix the bugs and get a paid version up ASAP. I’d be willing to pay a couple bucks.

  • http://Website James

    The moment I launched this app, my Vibrant took a header. Never was able to load the app and take a pic. Deleted. Bummer.

  • http://Website CeeJ

    I don’t seem to be having these delay problems with my Evo (Froyo-ed). Shutter responds just fine, and pictures take about 5 seconds to process, in high resolution. Fun app… thanks for sharing!

  • http://Website ben howard

    will work on wildfire? cant find it on the market. can u help

  • http://Website Bobba

    I really think Vignette is way better than retro camera. It has way more customizable options and doesn’t totally gimp your phone for a few seconds. It does the photo processing in the background. Now mind you if you have anything but a Moto Droid equivalent or better, it will still be slow in processing your photos and make your whole phone slow for a bit.

    • http://Website Tiffani

      I have to agree. I’ve been using the Demo version but definitely intend on purchasing the Vignette app. I’ve taken fabulous pics with VIgnette.

  • http://Website Whask

    Looks awesome, but I went to the market and and noticed the download size 4.4mb! Us G1 onwers (who are not rooted) are kinda screwed for space. Between Google Maps, the official FB app a BIG chunk there isn’t a whole lotta room left.

  • http://Website altercator

    The idea is cool, but the app is way too slow. Why would i want to wait 15-20 seconds after clicking a pic. It takes ages to process in high resolution. And 4.4mb on top of that.. Overkill !!!

  • http://Website jon

    it’s all about VIGNETTE! that’s the best camera app on the market!

  • http://Website cody

    Yes I’ve been using FXCAMERA pretty much since I got my Incredible on launch day. it processes the pictures very fast and has lots of great features. also, the developer responded to my emails personally and several of my ideas have been included.

    I have some friends who swear by Vignette, but I would like to see a side by side comparison of all of these apps.

  • jessing715

    RetroCamera is an aesthetically exciting app that provides an alternative photo-taking experience. The “prints” are developed in under 5 seconds and I absolutely love the retro effects! (HTC Desire)

  • http://Website Sandie

    I’ve tried sending the high res pics to my email and can’t receive them. If I choose the ‘download the high res version’ from facebook, it’s still very small (only 60mm x 60mm at 300dpi). Can anyone help please??

  • http://Website lui

    Dud its not on the market store anymore, where can I find it