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A Photo Book Through the Ages: Which Vintage Filters are the Best?

woman in vintage clothes holding a cigarrette

Sometimes the old ways are the best. Although our phones are capable of the crispest, cleanest images, there are so many photographers who still prefer that vintage, frazzled look – so much so that they create photo books entirely loaded with old-school images, harkening back to decades past.

Why are More People Creating Vintage Photo Books?

Uploading vintage photos to a photo book creator is more about romanticism than anything else. When we think about the 1990s or the 1970s, there’s a wealth of nostalgia that comes with the memories. 

While the photograph film might look a little more rough around the edges, the photos themselves are pure and happy. The look of those photos evokes such fond, rose-tinted memories, that it’s hard not to merge the two together. 

There’s also the fact that modern smartphones have gotten so good, our photographs look a little worse off. Naturalism is the best way forward, we’re not refuting that, but when you can see everything just the way it is, there’s little room for imagination. 

When a photograph is a little grainy and filled with imperfections, our minds are forced to fill in the gaps, and this makes it more of a mysterious relic rather than a perfect reflection. Some people may disagree, and that’s fine. But the truth is, there’s a lot to love about vintage photography. And people really do love it.

How to Shoot Vintage Photographs

If you’re thinking about getting into vintage photography, don’t worry, you don’t need to spend thousands on an old-school camera. As we said before, many people love the vintage style, and there are many apps that cater towards them. Some of the most popular include:

  • VSCO

This app offers a range of filters and editing tools, including black-and-white presets. 

  • RNI Films

This app allows you to browse through filters inspired by classic film stocks from various eras, giving your photos a vintage look reminiscent of romantic analogue photography. 

  • 8mm Vintage Camera

Our personal favorite. 8mm Vintage camera is a perfectly simple app that focuses on replicating vintage film looks, with a further opportunity to take videos and adjust frame rates for added authenticity.

What are the Most Popular Vintage Filters?

We understand, however, that we’re being a little vague. When we talk about ‘vintage photography’, we could be talking about many time periods, from the 1920s, all the way through to the noughties. So what are the most popular vintage filters that you can utilize?

  • 1920s Filter

The 1920s filter typically mimics the aesthetics of black-and-white silent films. This means it adds heavy grain, vignetting, and softening effects with a low contrast. It’s a little more heavy-hitting than your regular black-and-white photographs – it’s more on the nose, authentic, without restraint, but that just makes it even more romantic. Just note that if you’re looking to add sharpness and detail, this won’t be the filter for you.

  • 1960s Filter

The 1960s filter is a little like the 70s filter, which we’ll talk about later, only with increased saturation. The tones of this filter are warm, with more vibrant colors and a hint of grain. 

Characteristic of color film photography from that period, it may also feature color casts and tonal shifts, often making photos look a little greener than they should be – at least, that’s what we’ve noticed. For this reason, it doesn’t often represent the subject accurately, but it’s still a good option for lovers of the swinging sixties look.

  • 1970s Filter

Like 8mm Vintage Camera, this is our personal favorite filter. The appearance of 1970s filters is soft, subtle, but gritty and grainy enough to look authentic.  The tones are more earthy here, with increased contrast and slight desaturation, and while that might put some people off, for us it makes it even better. 

Compared to earlier decades, the 1970s filters are more pronounced, more fun, with dramatic highlights, deeper shadows, and a style that perfectly reflects the more experimental and edgy style of the 1970s era. It’s nostalgia at its finest, and perfect for a photo book with a punch!

Choosing Your Vintage Filter

These are three of the most popular vintage filters, but there are many more. We’d recommend you download some of these apps or try out some free demos and see what you think. Every era will evoke a different sort of emotion for you, so jump around and get a feel for your favorite. Or just stick to your regular, modern smartphone photographs. There’s no reason why you can’t do that. But if you get the urge, we’d recommend dipping your toes into the past for at least a little while!


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