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Lenka for iOS review: A solid photography app, but the interface needs work

The Good Lenka makes the process of taking black-and-white photos extremely easy.

The Bad The interface is simple but lacks polish, and it's unclear at first what each icon represents.

The Bottom Line If you're looking for a simple app for taking black-and-white shots using your iPhone's camera, Lenka is worth the price.


8.1 Overall
  • Setup 10
  • Features 9
  • Interface 5
  • Performance 9

Unlike most photo apps for our smartphones, Lenka does one thing and one thing only: it takes black-and-white photos. Instead of piling on extra controls for saturation, brightness, filters, and similar options that can be found in basically every other photo app out there, Lenka focuses on simplicity. You have only two options available to control the look of the photo, which are limited to a "Normal" or "High Contrast" mode. That's it.

Lenka delivers on its promise of cutting out any unnecessary features, but somehow the user-interface is still confusing, with buttons that are far from intuitive at first blush.

Understanding Lenka

There's really no setup for Lenka at all. You launch the app and immediately you're greeted with a black-and-white viewfinder. Along the bottom (from left to right) you'll find a gallery icon, the shutter release button that more closely resembles a yellow kickball, and a somewhat odd-looking button that doesn't present a clear message stating its purpose (more on what it does below).

Along the top in the same order, you'll find a button to enable subject illumination (not the same as a flash) and an "About" button. The ability to constantly illuminate an object instead of hitting it with a quick flash of light, and the absence of front-facing camera support "are creative decisions which speak to our artistic philosophy," according to the app's iTunes listing.

As for that strange button along the bottom, well, that's how you change between the two different shooting modes I mentioned at the beginning of the review. On one setting, it's a small circle that's half black and half white. Tapping it puts a red circle with a line through it around the icon. I have yet to actually figure out which mode is represented by which icon.

Crafting a black-and-white photo

When you're composing a photo you'll appreciate the fact the viewfinder displays exactly what your photo is going to look like once it's captured. Another nice touch is the ability for you to pinch on the viewfinder to switch from a longer, rectangular photo to a square one. The square photo gives you an even more realistic preview of what it will look like if you're planning on posting the photo on Instagram.

Once you've snapped your shot, it's instantly saved to your Lenka Gallery. That is to say, Lenka doesn't save photos taken within the app to your device's camera roll. Instead, it saves photos within its own gallery, freeing your iOS camera roll from clutter and letting you share or save only what you want.

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