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I’m obsessed with collecting cameras from before my time. I’m by no means a pro photographer; I just like the look and feel of the photos from these nearly extinct shooters. It’s as if there’s more substance behind their faded colors than the picture-perfect, high-res digital images that my DSLR produces. But between film, processing, and the cameras themselves, shooting on vintage equipment can turn into quite an expensive hobby. Thankfully, desktop applications like Lo-Fi can at least emulate the look of these vintage cameras—though unsurprisingly, nothing is ever as good as the real thing.
Lo-Fi’s DSLR-like interface is fun to navigate and a nice change of pace from the typical Mac window.
Lo-Fi’s interface looks like the back of a DSLR, and each button performs a simple function like opening an image or bringing up the Help menu. On the right, Lo-Fi offers 14 film effects (we dig Oldachrome and Faded), 12 mood effects, and 13 types of frames, as well as a button for randomizing any combination of these. Most of the film types give great results, and the mood overlays—like fine grain or gritty, for example—lend your images a 35mm vibe without seeming too “fake.”
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the frame options Lo-Fi offers. The border effects can seem hokey. A few of them—Vignette and Viewfinder, to name two—work well. But most come off looking like a bad Photoshop job. The Burn and Negative frames in particular smack of digital manipulation—they look as if someone has scanned an actual photo and then pasted a digital image over the top of it.
These photos and their frames were created from contemporary digital photos and tweaked in Lo-Fi.
Despite that occasional cheesiness, Lo-Fi is still a fun way to transform your photos and share them with friends. You can batch-edit and then instantly upload your photos to Flickr, Twitter, or Facebook or export them for further editing in Photoshop Elements, Picasa, or iPhoto.
The bottom line. Lo-Fi gives your shots a quick and easy vintage look, but don’t expect to fool hardcore photographers.
Lo-Fi Photo Editor
Intel processor, 1024x768 or greater monitor resolution, Mac OS 10.5 or later
Tons of effects. Batch photo editing and exporting.
Frame effects are mostly cheesy.