Review: CameraBag Desktop

Posted on Oct 1, 2009 in Featured, Mac, Reviews

Digital photography has made it easier for us all to take hundreds of near-perfect shots. But digital photography lacks some of the elements that made each photo taken with an analog camera unique. The type of film, processing techniques and photo-paper used all contributed to give each image a distinctive look.

CameraBag, by Nevercenter, gives digital photography enthusiasts an easy way to introduce some of that flavour back into their photography. Like its iPhone sibling (App Store link), CameraBag Desktop is designed to be straightforward and easy-to-use: Instead of presenting users with a confusing number of options, exposure settings, histograms and color profiles, CameraBag has 9 styles, that can all be applied with a single click.

CameraBag-14

CameraBag-styles

The styles are based on a mix of classic analog cameras and media formats. The manual describes as such:

Helga: Square-format toy camera with washed-out highlights and old-school vignetting.
Lolo: Shoot from the hip and take life as it comes with vibrant, colorful shots.
Mono: Smooth, refined, balanced black and white
1962: Dynamic, high-contrast black and white from the photojournalism of a bygone era.
Colorcross: Hazy, chemical color-swapping straight from the darkroom.
Instant: No need to shake this instant-developing film.
1974: Your father’s camera: faded, tinted, and hip.
Cinema: Dramatic, moody coloring with a widescreen aspect ratio.
Magazine: Rich tones for glossy pages.

Once you’ve dragged your image into the main window, apply one of the styles by simply clicking its preview thumbnail. Each style will crop your image and apply a variety of filters. You can also mix & match styles by checking the “multi-filter” option. This will allow you to apply multiple styles on top of each other, creating distinctive looks and styles. If you want to start over, simply click the “original” thumbnail, to discard all applied styles.

styles

CameraBag also applies a crop and border to your image, based on your style. If you prefer, you can also pick these manually though, allowing for even more image variations. If one of the styles doesn’t suit your taste, you can also “Reprocess” an image to see variations of that style. If a style produces an image that is too dark or lacking in contrast, reprocessing your picture will often deliver a much better result, so if you’re not happy with the way a photo turns out, try reprocessing it!

Some styles may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and I found myself using some more often than others. But most styles do a really good job of adding some flavour to your images.The CameraBag Photo Blog has some great examples of the kinds of results you can achieve, with nice before/after comparisons.

The UI is nicely laid out and very easy to use (although I’m not quite sure why the designers found it necessary for a user to “turn on” reprocessing). EDIT: @CameraBag clarifies:

“[…] reprocess auto-enables when clicked. It’s more about the off switch to get back to each filter’s signature look”

Styles are applied nearly instantaneously and while you’re finding the right style for your images the application feels very fast. Rotating and saving images causes a slight bit of delay, but both are extremely minor. For those who enjoy a good manual with their software, Nevercenter includes a detailed PDF guide, which I personally find a lot more useful than trying to find information with OS X’s built-in help system.

Overall CameraBag is a great and affordable way to liven up your shots. It’s an interesting new type of photo stylizer that works well as a complementary tool to traditional photo editing applications such as iPhoto or Picasa.

Available for just $19, it’s a must-have for every wannabe photographer.

Download CameraBag

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