Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

RNI Films

I’m not usually the type to jump ship on apps I love, but VSCO’s new update has been so puzzling to me1 that I am actively seeking alternatives. Most importantly, I’d like something that is easy to use, and doesn’t have a social network built into it.

Enter, via Dave Day, RNI Films. Instead of filters, the creators of the app have modelled actual film stock, including favourites like Fuji’s Instax instant film, classic Polaroid stock, and Kodak Gold — in six different variations of the actual chemistry of the film. They’ve even scanned in actual film grain and dust, instead of modelling those textures digitally.

It includes most of the editing tools that VSCO has, but with icons that are much easier to understand. Some of them are quite clever: vignette is a camera’s aperture, grain looks like wheat, and highlights and shadows are salt and pepper, respectively. They have text labels below them, too.

I’m not super keen on the app’s cropping workflow, though. I often edit at full-size, then crop or re-crop later. In RNI Films, cropping is, unfortunately, the first step after selecting a photo from the camera roll, and there’s no way to re-crop without discarding edits. It’s also missing perspective correction tools, but you should really be using SKRWT for that anyway.

Overall, though, I really like RNI Films. The app itself is free, and includes a pretty good starter kit of different film stocks. Additional packs of film types are about $5 per set, which is a little pricey, especially if you purchase them all. I do think it’s worth your time to check it out, though.

Really Nice Images — the RNI, obviously — has another app available for $5 called Flashback. Instead of fine-tuned settings, it randomizes the film stock, textures, and various other effects. It’s fun to play around with if you’d rather not fiddle with a bunch of settings. You can grab it on the App Store, too. (App Store links in this post are affiliate links because I’m an opportunist like that. I do genuinely use and recommend both apps, though, and I haven’t been compensated in any way for this post.)

  1. It’s so confusing that VSCO has published a “How to Use VSCO” help article. That’s not a good sign. ↩︎