As an Instagram user, you'll find that the new Oggl app is good for you — the digital equivalent of choosing a side salad over french fries. Like that salad's positive effect on your hips, your Instagram photos could improve as you learn from Oggl photographers without the distraction of likes and comments.
Photo apps strike their own balance between shooting and sharing. For Oggl, the emphasis is on the photography; Instagram is tipped toward the social aspect. Although you have the opportunity to like photos in an Instagram-style stream in Oggl, all personal information is hidden behind the photos.
Oggl was designed for "serious" smartphone photographers by the makers of Hipstamatic, the original smartphone photo-filtering app for iPhone. In fact, Hipstamatic, not Instagram, established the square photo, and also pioneered retro filters, replicating the look of old-style cameras such as a Polaroid Instamatic.
Oggl uses Hipstamatic's filters — a variety of effects that replicate old lenses, along with a second group of filters that look as if you've used different types of film. You choose one from each group, which is then combined to produce your filtered photo. Even if you don't research the roots of these now-obsolete photography components, Oggl can help you learn the difference the choice of lenses and films can make on a photo. For instance, you may pair Lucas Lens with BlacKeys Supergrain Film for an overexposed artsy black-and-white effect.
Oggl includes four preset pairings optimized for the most common photo scenarios: portraiture, landscape, nightlife and food . You can also make your own combinations, using Oggl's mix-and match-filters. Like with Instagram, you swipe through the filter choices, but now you've got two rows to play with, which can lead to some interesting effects.
To reveal information about a photo, tap on it to see the name of the photographer, when the photo was taken, how many likes it has received and how many times the photo has been added to users' collections. Oggl also shows the filter combination the photographer used, so that you can try it out for yourself and save it as a favorite to be used later.
Learn from others
Instead of the "me-me-me" focus of Instagram , Oggl encourages users to collect the work of others. In fact, it's a lot like Pinterest's repinning function, which can be just as important, if not more so, than pinning your own stuff. Your collection consists of photos you've added from others, as well as your own, and they can be viewed separately. Seeing your work next to the work of others can be a humbling experience, but also an educational one.
So far, Oggl has a notable lack of selfies, inspirational quotes and the latest glitter nail art, which can be a welcome relief for Instagram users. What you'll see is a lot of great photography that can inspire your own work.
Oggl restricts photos to those taken within the app. You can't upload photos from your camera roll, which is a way to sneak in photos taken with fancy DSLR cameras . But it can be reassuring to know that the photos you see on Oggl were indeed taken with a smartphone.
The ability to import photos from your camera roll can make you lazy — Instagram expert and supermodel Coco Rocha said she takes 10 to 15 photos of a subject using her phone's camera app, filters five or six in Instagram and then picks the best one. [See also: 5 Social Media Tips from a Supermodel ] Oggl will teach you to focus on your shot and get it right the first time.
While you're experimenting with Oggl, you can share your photos directly to Instagram, along with other sites such as Flickr, Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook. You may find that your Oggl crash diet for better photos turns into a more permanent way to share your work. And you don't have to give up one app to enjoy the other.
Oggl is available for free in the App Store. If you decide to stick with it, you can upgrade your account for $9.99 a year or $2.99 a quarter to add more Hipstamatic filters.