Hipstamatic Oggl for Windows Phone 8 promises a feature-rich way to snap artsy pictures with little skill and share them to a community of fellow mobile photographers. Though the app delivers on that promise, its confusing, overly complicated interface will frustrate anyone who just wants to whip out their camera, take a picture, and quickly send it off to their social networks.
After you download and open the app, you need to sign up for a free Hipstamatic Oggl account with an e-mail address and create a password. If you happen to have an existing Oggl account, there is no place to sign in, and if you try to register with your existing using name, the app will tell you its already taken.
Your account allows you to share photos with the Oggl community, a social network of photographers using the same Hipstamatic app either on Windows Phone or iOS to snap and share photos. In the app, you can search for users by name or browse others' work and follow them to keep up with their new photos.
If you want to connect your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts to the app to share your photos, you can do so by tapping the menu bar that's always at the bottom of the app and choosing settings.
Unlike Hipstamatic's flagship app (only available on iOS), the company says that Oggl has a "capture-first shooting experience," meaning you're supposed to take a photo now and edit it later. In my testing of the app, I highly recommend following that advice, since trying to set up filters before you snap a picture is too cumbersome to do while you're out and about.
That capture-first focus explains why Hipstamatic Oggl immediately takes you to the camera when you launch the app and why the app emphasizes preset-camera modes (called favorites) designed to photograph common scenes, such as a dark bar, a meal, or a cloudy sunset. The camera comes with five preinstalled favorite modes: landscape, portrait, nightlife, food, and sunset.
Looking at the main camera screen from top to bottom, you'll see a square viewfinder with framing guides, a row of favorite photo modes, the onscreen shutter button, a frame icon, a globe icon, and a bottom menu bar. The menu bar includes controls to tweak the flash settings, enter manual mode, switch between the front and back cameras, and add a new favorite.
To take a photo, you either choose a favorite mode or tweak the photo with manual controls, then tap the onscreen shutter button or use your phone's physical camera button. Whatever you capture gets automatically saved to your photo library and you can continue to take more shots.
A major feature of Hipstamatic's original app, but less prominent in Oggl, are the manual controls, where you can you can pair up lenses and film options to tweak your photos' color, texture, and lighting. You can get to lenses and film by touching the M icon on the bottom menu bar.
As you scroll through the columns of lenses and film to pick something new, you'll see a quick preview of your final photo in the viewfinder. Though, when you actually snap the photo you'll be looking at your camera's standard viewfinder. That short preview took some getting used to, because at first it seemed like my lens and film selections weren't taking.
Lenses and film
Lenses alter the tone, color, depth of field, clarity, and lighting of your photos, while film changes the color, texture, and frames around your picture.
Hipstamatic Oggl comes with five preinstalled lenses and five film choices. In the gear section of the app, which you get to by tapping the globe or frame icons from the camera screen, there are a total of 29 lenses and 32 film options available to download. All in all, there are 928 different lens and film combinations that you can apply to your photos, many more than Instagram's 19.
For the first sixty days after you sign up on Oggl, you can download any of the lenses and film from the gear store for free. After that, you'll need to pay either $3 for three months or $10 per year to access the extra lenses and film. Any lenses or film you downloaded during the sixty day trial period will disappear, but if you subscribe to the premium service, you'll get an option to import all of that gear.
Photo library and navigation
When you want to see the photos you've captured, touch the frame icon on the camera screen to open your photo library.
If you select a photo in the library, you can tap the gear button in the bottom menu (shown as a film and lens icon) to apply a different lens and/or film option to alter the photo. In my testing, the controls to swipe through the lenses and film options were slow and laggy.