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Decim8 falls into the category of photography apps for the iPhone that filter or add effects to an image. The difference between Decim8 and other apps is that the other apps apply effects to an image in order to enhance it or alter its mood or tone in some way. Decim8 on the other hand doesn't do that instead it "destroys" the original image by moving its pixels around, hence it's name. But believe me, that can be a good thing.
The app at its most basic level, takes an image that you supply to it and then applies filters to it, that distort, warp or alter the underlying image sometimes drastically, sometimes subtly but always randomly. Therein lies the main purpose of Decim8, the random application of filters to an image to generate a new image.
With the release of version 3 of the app, the interface has seen a huge overhaul and brought with it plenty of refinements that make Decim8 easier to use and also does a decent job of explaining to you what the app is going to do to your image.
The first change is that now on launch a splash screen is displayed and then you are immediately dropped into the camera view to take a picture. There is nothing fancy here, it's just a basic camera interface to allow you to grab an image. Tapping the library icon in the bottom left corner brings you to your albums and Camera Roll. Once you select an image here, you are brought into the main part of Decim8.
Again the interface in this section of the app has seen an overhaul and brought with it more welcome changes. Gone are the icons from the previous version and instead there are now labelled buttons that describe what you can do. Starting from the top left, there is a Camera icon, which takes you back to the camera and two buttons labelled +Process and Process.
The Process button replaces the old refresh icon from the previous version of the app, when you press it, it will apply whatever filters you have selected to your image. Where it gets interesting though is with the +Process button, which only becomes available to use after you have used Process at least once on an image. +Process then allows you to apply an additional filter to an already filtered image.
In the previous version, if you created an image that you liked but wanted to tweak it a little further, your only option was to save it to the camera roll and then re-open it and start applying affects to it again. If you had tried to just amend the filters and add a new effect, you would have lost the image that you had generated and instead created an entirely new image. Once you generate an image that you like via the process button, you can now use +Process to add one or more additional filters to the already processed image, tweaking it further. The other good part of the +Process is that you can also apply effects to an image one at a time, so play with it until you get the result you want with one filter and then add another and so on, gradually building up to your final image.
A word of caution though: be sure to use +Process and not Process at this stage and make sure you have amended your selection of filters before pressing +Process otherwise you will apply the same filters again. Do not worry about mistaking the Process and +Process buttons, once you have applied filters using Process, the button label changes to Retry in order to distinguish it from +Process.
Along the bottom of the window, there is now a share icon, which at this stage only allows you to Tweet the image or send a postcard via an online service called Sincerely, which I'm afraid I don't know.
Next to the share button is a save button, which saves the image directly to your Camera Roll. In the event that you are working with an image taken with the camera, a copy of the original image is also saved. If you are working with an image from your library, then just the amended image is saved, which is listed by PhotoSize as being 1936x2592 Pixels.
The app settings, which used to be available from this screen via the More button have now been moved and are found in the main settings section of the iPhone. To access them, tap settings and scroll down until you see Decim8. The only option available to you here now though is to save a copy of the original image.
The next button along is labelled Rand, pressing it causes Decim8 to randomly select a bunch of effects, which you can then apply by pressing the process button.
Finally we have the effects button, labelled FX. Pressing it as before brings up a list of the effects available in the app. Again the interface has undergone some changes here, as the effects are now listed together with a small icon that attempts to describe what the effect does and a small "i" (info) button, that when tapped will display an example photo with the effect applied.
Selecting effects is simply a case of tapping on the effect(s) that you would like to try and once done, tapping the FX button again to minimize the window and allow you to apply the effect(s). At the top of the effects list, you will find a Save Preset button, so if you find yourself using a combination over and over again, you can now save it as a preset. Finally in the top right is an X that you can tap to close the window without making any changes at all.
Working with the app
Unlike the previous version, now when you start working with Decim8 by loading an image, the app does not automatically apply filters to it, instead it now waits for you to select which filters you would like to use and then to apply them, which I think is a nice and welcome change.
The new UI in the effects window also makes it a little clearer what the effects do, at least for some of the effects. However for some of the others, it's still not exactly clear and the example image, available from the info button, doesn't always help to clarify things, so the best thing to do is to experiment still.
With that in mind, the options available to you in this new version have been further expanded by the introduction of 4 additional filters, which further increase the possibilities available to you. While the whole process behind Decim8 is that chaos and randomness is good, I think it also helps if you can exert some kind of influence over the image in order to nudge it in a direction that you want.
Each filter by itself does perform a particular type of action on an image, but you cannot influence how and where on the image the effect will be produced. You can try to influence the image with a good starting point though. To determine what filters or "building blocks" to use, I've listed the effects of the filters as I have found them below.
- Vortron - Randomized patches and colours.
- Pre-cog - A kind of warped double exposure.
- Blitbomb - Pixillation but with lots of small to medium squares.
- 2600++ - Randomized coloured squares, sometimes inverted +grain or pixellation.
- Graboid - Randomized squares containing parts of image, sometimes parts are magnified, colours can be lightened or darkened too.
- Veth - Randomized strip that mirrors part of image - can darken or lighten colour.
- Bunker - Repeating cubes, patches or strips of parts of image, lot of them, can be inverted or colour inverted.
- Agency - adds a barcode like strip to the image.
- Sigstop - Randomized squares containing parts of the image with altered colours, colours often inverted.
- Chip13h - Pixellated, squares now are SMALLER than Blitbomb, looks more like old webcam or digital photo.
- Fingerblib - randomized squares overlaid onto the image with each square containing a part of the image, can also lighten colour in each square.
- M0T0R - Randomized rows/strips with the image mis-aligned in each row - looks like a kind of shattered effect plus parts of image can now repeat and/or colours can be inverted.
- L225 - Doesn't seem as "wild" as version 2, randomly repeats parts of image in rows, columns or spirals etc and the image in each "section" can be skewed, warped or have the colours altered but the colour changes don't seem as drastic as before.
- Interface - overlays scan lines onto an image like you would see on a CRT monitor, can now also invert colours.
- Brainfeed3r - Creates multiple misaligned exposures of the image, with drastically altered colours, sometimes colouring like from a zombie movie, hence the name.
- Doctor Ocular - Creates multiple exposures of the image overlaid to look like a camera on the fritz, kind of like from a sci-fi or terminator movie. Colours are tinted appropriately to reflect this and grain added.
- Xexox - Splits image into strips and then adds barcode effect to each strip, kind of like interface lines drawn over the image. Each strip can also be misaligned, have the colours altered and/or grain added.
- Fold 4 Rap 5 - Part of the image is taken and then mirrored in multiple columns, it's a hall of mirrors / kaleidoscope effect.
- Bitboy - Creates an image made up of various ascii type characters and or pixels, looks like an image from the BBC Micro days. Mostly grey-scale can sometimes have colour.
- TI994X - Creates a random jumble of squares and pixellated blocks made up of colours from the image.
- 01Rectine - Infra-red or inverted colour version of the image.
At the start when I first got Decim8, I didn't understand its appeal but then I saw some beautiful images that had Decim8 listed as one of the apps used in the creation process and so I would go back and try it again.
The a-ha moment came one evening when I spent some time with the refresh button and a combination of filters and got a really nice result out of it. So I spent some more time trying to understand what the filters did in order to have some influence over the final result, which provided me with the list above and encouraged me to play with it more. In short Decim8 is one of those apps that rewards patience and experimentation.
I think that the changes to the interface really add a lot more to the app and encourage you to play and experiment more. It was quite frustrating in the past to generate a nice image, then accidentally hit the refresh button or lose the image that I liked because I forgot to save it before trying just one more filter. I also think that the additions made to the filter selection screen do a decent job of explaining what the filters do which takes some of the frustration out of the process and avoids you having to try the filters one by one each time. The only thing that I would like to see here, are some better example photos. Otherwise I think all of the changes really helped to make the app a lot better.
In the previous version there was also a peculiar bug, that meant every so often the app would just start to generate a black square, leaving you with no other option but to close and relaunch the app. With the new version it does not seem to be present yet, however the developer does alert you when you first launch the app to let him know if you do discover any bugs.
Although Decim8 is not one of my main go-to apps, such as Iris or Filter Storm, it is an app that has it's place in my bag of tricks and one that I would now miss if I didn't have and is capable of rewarding patience with some stunning images. Definitely worth a look if you're into experimenting with your images and don't mind giving up some control.
Welcome to the Jungle
This app review was written by aproudlove. Check out his blog, and follow him on twitter and instagram (@aproudlove). If you would like to submit an app review to be featured in the App Critiques section, email django@iPhoneArt.com.
Published on February 29, 2012.
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