[Note: Updated to include the Bettie XL lens and Ina's 35 film] I've been playing with this cool Hipstamatic camera app nonstop for a few days, after reading several recommendations in another thread here. After a couple of days I promoted it onto the Dock -- it really is that awesome. Many of the comments people make about this app mention how many combinations of lens, film, and flash there are -- something like 360, I think, if you buy all the extra hipsta packs. But I've found in practice (and this is borne out in browsing the discussion threads in photo groups) that you really don't need too think to hard about all that stuff. You settle pretty quickly into one or two or a few setups that you like, and leave the rest for times when you're in the mood to experiment. I wonder if other users share this experience. First off, about 80 percent of Hipstamatic is the choice of lens. And the differences aren't exactly subtle. • John S is sharp and bluish in tone • Jimmy is very blurry and yellow • Kaimal medium-sharp and red-orange • Helga is slightly blurry and color-neutral, with subtle blue-purple in the shadows • Lucifer is blurry and red as hell • Robo Glitter is sharp with weird blue-green stuff going on around the edges [UPDATE] • Bettie XL, part of the new hipstapak, is insanely streaky, simulating the effect of a leaky lens housing. So you've got three lenses that are warm in tone, and three cool. Bettie, being crazy, is in a class by herself. The no-regret choice is John S, which almost never takes a bad picture. As for films, most of them do nothing -- I repeat, do nothing -- except add some kind of border. They don't change the image itself, so it doesn't matter which of them you pick. These are: • Blanko (borderless) • Ina's 69 • Kodot • Pistil [UPDATE] • Ina's 35 (also borderless) The two black-and-white film types are pretty similar but with interesting differences that are no doubt important to B&W devotees, which I am not. Alfred Infrared isn't really infrared but it does give a pronounced hot glare to the image. Float lays kind of a scratchy, aged layer onto the image, especially at the edges, as though the pic was taken through dirty glass. The flashes are interesting but, I think, mostly for those inclined to experiment. They all (except for Standard) kind of screw around in various ways with the color and lighting of the underlying photo. I think they're mainly useful for two types of users: (a) advanced hipsters who are looking for a particular effect and (b) people just playing around who like being surprised. I will share the one and only lens/flash combination that I've gotten some good pictures with (though the magic doesn't happen every time). I use John S for almost everything, but I've found in taking photos of my garden that it imparts a kind of strange, otherworldly atmosphere, rather than conveying a sense of the lush verdant character of the plants. But with the Yellow Gel flash, I sometimes get a photo where the plant seems to be channeling some kind of magical green life force right through the image into your brain. So really, it's mostly down to the lens. 80 percent, anyway. Now I should add that these lenses all are very individual in character. John S for example has a beautiful, sometimes eerie sort of glow in the middle of the image but becomes darker and moodier as you move out into the periphery. Lucifer can makes things look like they're about to burst into flame, but if there's something green near the margin of the image, it seems to be hyper-green, as though all the heat is focused in one place. All the lenses have quirks like this. Sometimes they're pretty obvious but sometimes, as with Helga, they are rather subtle. There's a "favorite setup" thread on the Flickr Hipstamatic group and most of the comments fall into two categories: • I shake the thing and let something random pop up. • I use Lens X with Film Y and no flash. In the second category, John S seems far and away the most popular. Kaimal, Helga and Robo have their aficionados. (Helga and Kaimal seem especially well-regarded by B&W enthusiasts.) NOBODY uses Jimmy or Lucifer as their go-to lens. This will be the case with the new Bettle XL lens as well. Personally, if I were shooting a pool party, I'd use Jimmy. It does good things with blue. Try shooting a sunny sky with it. Also, the blurriness will be appreciated by drunken partygoers. Of all the lenses, Helga feels the most "real." It doesn't have a pronounced color-shift, and it comes pretty close to capturing the slightly imperfect, slightly out-of-focus quality of your basic pre-digital camera, the kind that ordinary families would take vacation snapshots with. But it doesn't go over-the-top about it, like the "toy camera" apps. I suspect I'm just not mature enough to appreciate it. That's all I've got.