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How to alleviate Hipstamatic envy

Two desktop apps can give your photos that washed-out, retro look. Each offers a free trial, so what are you waiting for?

ToyCamera Analogcolor lets you choose from a list of presets and then further tweak the image from there using the sliders on the right of the cross-processing options at the bottom. Matt Elliott/CNET

Before I had an iPhone, I did not experience iPhone envy. I liked my beat-up, old cell phone and its inability to text, take pictures, or access the Internet. It wasn't until these cool, retro-looking photos started popping up on my friends' Facebook pages that I started to think the iPhone might have some features worth the price of admission. Now, I didn't end up buying an iPhone because of Hipstamatic, but it was the one app that started to break down my antismartphone defenses. And it was among my first purchases in the App Store.

Feeling Hipstamatic envy? Fear not, I have a cure. Two, actually. Two desktop apps, ToyCamera Analogcolor and CameraBag Desktop, can give your photos Hipstamatic-like effects. They work with either a PC or a Mac and offer free trials.

ToyCamera Analogcolor
Straight from Japan comes ToyCamera Analogcolor. The app costs $9.99, but if I'm reading the poorly translated version of the site correctly, it offers a free trial with no end date. You start by dragging a photo into the workspace. Then you can choose from 18 different presets to adjust the look of the image. Then from each preset, you can apply one of eight processing filters and one of two lenses that further tweaks the image. To the right of the preview pane are nine sliders for blur, noise, color, contrast, and other attributes that allow you to fine tune the look of your shot. Lastly, there are four frames from which to choose. Photos can be resized and saved as PNG or JPG. As with Hipstamatic, images treated by ToyCamera Analogcolor are square in shape.

The app is fun and easy to use, though it occasionally freezes for a few seconds, giving doubt to whether your last command was received. And its layout isn't the best; when choosing a preset, the pull-down menu obscures your image. But given its low cost and seemingly endless trial, it's worth a spin.

Original on the left, ToyCamera Analogcolor treatment on the right. Matt Elliott/CNET

CameraBag Desktop
Straight outta Utah comes CameraBag Desktop. It's a much more polished piece of software than ToyCamera Analogcolor, but it's pricier at $19, and its free trial ends after 15 days. It features 10 filters, including Hipstamatic-esque options such as Helga (washed-out colors and vignetting) and 1974 (for that faded retro look). You won't find any sliders to further tweak each preset; instead, you can use multiple filters at the same time by clicking the Multifilter box at the top of the window. There is also a Reprocess button at the top, which you can press repeatedly to get subtle variations of the filter or filters you've chosen.

CameraBag Desktop lets you apply more than one filter to an image, creating seemingly limitless options. Matt Elliott/CNET

Should you find a combination of filters you like, you can name it and save it. Your saved filter combos show up on the Custom pull-down menu in the upper-right corner. Next to it, in a pull-down menu labeled More, you'll find a batch-processing option, allowing you to apply a filter across multiple photos.

You can save images as JPG, PNG, or TIFF, but saved images during the trial period are stamped with a CameraBag watermark. You can also resize images, crop to create different shapes (from Square to Superwide), and choose a frame.

Whether you are feeling Hipstamatic envy or you simply have some digital photos taken with a camera other than your iPhone, both ToyCamera Analogcolor and CameraBag Desktop provide fun and easy effects. Install the free trials and give them a whirl.