Wait for it: Popular app takes three days to 'develop' pics

Gudak Cam, an app that approximates the slowness of old disposable cameras, is quickly gaining fans around the world.

Leslie Katz Former Culture Editor
Leslie Katz led a team that explored the intersection of tech and culture, plus all manner of awe-inspiring science, from space to AI and archaeology. When she's not smithing words, she's probably playing online word games, tending to her garden or referring to herself in the third person.
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Leslie Katz
2 min read
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The title of Gundak Cam, developed by a South Korean startup, comes from a Korean term for "outdated."

Screw Bar

Gather round, kiddies, and let me tell you about a time when we'd take a photo, and then wait, sometimes for hours or even days, to see how it came out. Back then, we couldn't check voicemail while walking down the street unless we stopped at a payphone (a big box you put coins into).

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Quality over quantity: Gudak Cam forces you to be more deliberate about the shots you take. 

Screw Bar

All that waiting might seem like torture to you, young 'uns, but it brought a sweet anticipation that can only come with delayed gratification. Curious what that feels like? So are a lot of people. An app called Gudak Cam that makes you wait three long days for your digital photos to be processed is among the hottest paid iPhone apps in several countries, including South Korea and Japan, where it's especially popular among female high school students, Nikkei Asian Review reports

The 99-cent iOS app, which came out in July, approximates the look and experience of a Kodak disposable camera. Users can only snap 24 shots in a row. Once they've finished a roll of 24 exposures, they have to wait an interminable hour to reload the "film." Rolls take three days to "develop."

Gudak Cam photographers shoot pictures through a tiny viewfinder. They can even opt to add nostalgic "random light leaks" to their photos, as well as a color cast those who've used disposable cameras will recognize. Many apps and filters give photos a vintage look, of course, but Gudak Cam goes a step further by adding wait time.

The app garnered 1.3 million users in its first two months, Nikkei Asian Review reports, and an Instagram search for #gudak and #gudakcam returns more than 280,000 photos from around the world. 

The app's rising popularity comes at a time when many hobbyists still enjoy taking photos on film, and digitally savvy young hipsters are leaving CCD and CMOS sensors behind in favor of a technology their grandparents used.

The title of Gundak Cam, developed by South Korean startup Screw Bar, comes from "Gudagdali," a Korean term for "outdated."

"In today's digital era where the undo function is prevalent, we may have lost the thrill of choosing and cherishing moments," the developer says. "The aesthetics of waiting for printed photos may also have been lost."

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