There’s a lot more to black and white photography than converting a color snapshot to greyscale. Probably anyone could tell you that, but when it comes from a name like Kevin Abosch – who is known for his work photographing such iconic faces as Yoko Ono, Dennis Hopper and Johnny Depp – you should really take that advice to heart. Fortunately, Abosch is not so high and mighty that he’s not willing to do something cool like creating an app to help amateurs take better artsy photos.
Lenka is the name of Abosch’s photography app, newly available for Android users after having been exclusive to the iOS market for far too long. One of the finest photography apps we’ve seen in a while, Lenka differentiates itself from the throngs of retro photography apps by virtue of its simplicity. That, and its ability to help you take some pretty killer pictures.
The viewfinder presents a real time, black and white preview that works remarkably well at assisting you in the identification of appropriate image subjects. If you’ve ever stared cluelessly through your smartphone viewfinder, you’ll understand what a difference this can make for the rank amateur whose photographic attempts always fall short.
The app is lean on features and sleek in design, which makes it all that much more like an actual camera. A button on the top left of the viewfinder gives you fuss-free access to turning your camera bulb on or off. (Note the absence of the word “flash.” The bulb control illuminates your subject with constant light until the shutter’s been clicked.) The shutter is represented by a large yellow circle that you tap once to take a shot, but the app is also configured to use your Android’s volume buttons to shoot.
Next to the on-screen shutter button are three smaller button controls that represent autofocus (AF), tint and contrast. Tapping the AF button turns the default autofocus off. This lets you manually adjust focus by tapping on your intended subject in the viewfinder. The tint button opens up a slider that you can drag to adjust warmth, and the contrast slider lets you sharpen your images to the desired crispness.
Selfie fanatics may cool to the lack of a front-facing camera option, but this just speaks more to the app’s philosophical approach to photography. When you think about it, that’s actually pretty cool. Post edits are also (almost) nonexistent. Normally, you’d expect to be able to adjust tint and contrast after the fact, but the only edits you can make with Lenka have to do with image orientation and cropping.
When you open the edit controls, you can pinch to rotate or zoom in and out. There are also a number of preformatted crop size options ranging from 3×2 to 16×9. Once you’ve got the final product adjusted to your liking, you can share it via any number of methods, including the built-in Instagram option that automatically exports it if you have Instagram installed on your Android.
For the time being, Lenka is being offered as a free download for Android users running 4.1 and up. Seeing as iOS users have to pay $1.99 for the same app, this may change – so don’t wait to snatch it up.