Quick Look: RNI Films for iPhone

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I don’t take nearly as many shots on my iPhone as I used to, but the ones that I do take are usually processed in Darkroom or RNI Films. I usually use the former because it streamlines the editing process so much, but there’s no denying that RNI films has some really gorgeous film filters of its own.

One thing that turns me off a lot of iOS photo editors are all the very fake extra effects that clutter up the actual filters. I don’t want to add fake sun flares, bokeh balls, or fake frames to my shots. I just want to be able to tweak the colours and tones, and then share them easily with other people. RNI Film simulations are based on real film stocks, and so you don’t have to deal with any fake extras being added to your images. What changes are the colours and tones. Once you have an image chosen, you can preview different films with a single tap. That tap can add a lot of pop to an image — so much so that I often don’t feel the need to spruce it up after that.

That’s a good thing because you can’t actually select the “strength” of these filters — you either apply them and like what they do, or you don’t. But there is a pretty comprehensive suite of editing tools available, for fine-tuning your image. There standard sliders for brightness, contrast, shadows, highlights, tinting, and sharpening are all present. The UI also changes to show a dot on the sliders you’ve chosen to tweak.

Old School: Import & Save

Unfortunately RNI Films is still pretty old-school about how it opens and saves images. You still have to specifically open up the photo library, select a photo, and then start editing. If you are batch editing, this means you’ll need to run through that import process multiple times. I much prefer the approach from other apps like Darkroom and Polarr, where you can actually see your entire photo library, and you just need to tap once on a picture and start editing.

RNI Films still creates its own versions of pictures, and doesn’t take advantage of the newer iOS ability to save edits to an existing photo. This means that every time I save an image to my camera roll, I have to remember to go back and delete the original in the Photos app. These duplications are why I don’t use RNI Films very often — I just don’t like the clutter it generates in my photo library.

Would be a great camera app!

These editing features wouldn’t be as important to me if I could use RNI Films as a substitute camera app. I’d be happy to shoot live using RNI filters, and then save those filtered shots directly to the camera roll. I like the Fuji filters so much, I’m pretty sure I could shoot with those alone.

RNI Films is one of those rare apps where the UI really doesn’t do itself any favours, but the results are so good that I will end up keeping it around until I can find something that has similar capabilities on mobile. If you’d like to try it out, you can actually download it completely free, and you can purchase extra filter packs as in-app purchases for about $5 each.

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