8mm Vintage Camera: Retro Video Effects on the iPhone

It’s never been more popular or easy to share pictures and videos. Just upload one to your Facebook/Flickr/MobileMe account, and link away to the world. But with all of the millions of images out on the Internet, there needs to be a way to set yours apart from the masses.

We’ve talked about the many different types of vintage video apps out on the market before, but one of those from the roundup deserves a little bit deeper look. It’s called 8mm Vintage Camera, and it’s been gaining popularity among users. So what makes this thing so great? Let’s take a moment to find out.

How it Works

The camera built into the iPhone is neat, but there’s nothing particularly exciting that stands out about it. Sure, it has a digital zoom that works decently, and a flash, but any video you shoot on your iPhone is going to look just as good as everybody else’s — and what fun is that?

The intro screen shows you how to do it all.

The intro screen shows you how to do it all.

8mm Vintage Camera uses the same hardware as the iPhone’s built-in video capturing software, but applies filters to make everything look more exciting. But there’s more to it than just filters. You can add a few different sound effects to make things more old-school and authentic, integrate a flash, plus change the film type. There’s a lot to the app, even though it doesn’t seem like it at first.

The Gimmick

Let’s take a moment and discuss why this app works. Instagram has taken off in popularity because it takes a regular picture and makes it look more exciting by adding a filter. It’s essentially a cheap version of Photoshop done on the fly, then it posts the image online to your various accounts.

Going old school.

Going old school.

So with 8mm Vintage Camera, you’ve got the same basic premise as Instagram, but with video. With the right filters, anybody’s videos can look good, which means that the average user can pick up the app and get after it with very little time spent trying to learn how it works.

The Process

Open up the app and you’re greeted with a diagram showing what each button does. From there, you choose your options, and this provides for a lot of different combinations. The first thing you select is the lens, which is one component in the overall view. There’s the clear lens, which is essentially no lens, then flickering frame, spotlight, light leak and color fringing. Each one has its own unique look, which you can preview before you start recording by looking at the viewfinder.

Same dog, different filter.

Same dog, different filter.

Next, you choose the type of film on which the video is recorded. As you’d expect, each film has its own quality to it, making the end result look remarkably different. There’s 1920s, 70s, Sakura, XPro and Siena available, and each one puts its own hue on the overall video. As an added bonus, you can change out any of the options on the fly, changing the look of your movie on the spot.

Adding Sounds to the Mix

To really make the videos look authentic, add a few sounds. You can mute the sound entirely, making it a silent movie that would look perfect with the 1920s film. Or you can add a film flapping sound that would work great with a 70s film, which dominates the audio of the final video. Finally, you can add no sound effect at all, and just use the built-in mic to get the job done.

Sakura gives a pink hue to the video.

Sakura gives a pink hue to the video.

So Is It Worth It?

As usual, this is a bit of a subjective question. It’s no bank breaker at $1.99, so let’s just get that out of the way because it’s definitely worth the low price. But is it fun to use? Will it last?

Go Pro for a blue hue.

Go Pro for a blue hue.

I put the app on my home screen for a week so I could see if it was something that I’d use fairly frequently or if it would just fade off into the sunset like so many other apps on my iPhone. On day one, I took a few videos of my kid playing in this little tent he has, my dog eating a biscuit and my wife cooking dinner, all of them with different hues. I e-mailed one of them to my wife for future reference and she asked me right away where I got the app. “That looks so cool! I love it!”

That’s the general consensus here: It’s cool and different. Sure, you’re not going to use it every day, but you probably don’t shoot video on your iPhone daily as it is. But when the occasion arises, having a cool app to make your videos stand out from the herd is definitely worth the price.


By mixing and matching films and lenses, you can recreate the atmosphere of those bygone eras with 25 timeless retro looks. Dust & scratches, retro colors, flickering, light leaks, frame jitters - all can be instantly added with a single tap or swipe.

  • http://adamwilbert.com Adam

    I adore this app. It’s one of my favorites. One fun thing that I figured out was that if you cover the camera lens with your finger, then remove it just after you start recording, you get a really beautiful light bloom of over exposed goodness as the camera’s iris stops down. Couple that with a well timed “frame jitter” and you’re golden!

    There are a few oddities that film purists will notice (such as colored light leaks on BW film), but overall it’s a nice little app that does what it does well.

    Here’s a link to my directorial debut with 8mm:
    As an added bonus, recording shots with this app finally provided the raw material I needed to justify learning iMovie.

  • http://www.be.net/dropout Jay

    I too, love this app! Couldn’t recommend it enough. Like Adam, i made a movie too coz i wanted to test out iMovie for iOS, check it out: http://vimeo.com/21005862

    I also made an icon for it as a personal exercise which can be seen here: http://www.behance.net/gallery/iOS-Icons/1103353

  • David Cho

    Thanks for the good article. I also have a lot of interest in video apps, and found a new app which has great filter effects: you can download and check it out from the link. http://goo.gl/vFKFX 
    I expect a post about this kind of non-popular apps as well. 

  • Pingback: Vintage Effect Camera Lens | 100% Photography()