How to get Filmic Photographs from your iPhone

iPhone 13 Pro + RitchieCam + Sandmarc Case + 20% CineBloom filter

There’s an easy way to get a filmic look from your iPhone!

I set out to help my wife, Amanda, get a filmic look from her cellphone images. Her “main” camera is a Fujifilm X-T4, but she also shoots quite a bit on her iPhone 13 Pro; her interest in photography and videography began with the iPhone. The filmic aesthetic is highly sought after, but not always easy to achieve; however, I found a good way to get it on the iPhone, so read on to find out how you can do it, too!

RitchieCam App — Vintage Kodak filter — iPhone 13 Pro — Photo by Amanda Roesch

What exactly is a filmic look? I would describe it as a cinematic film aesthetic. Think stills from a motion picture, or photographs captured with cinema film that has had the Remjet layer removed. This wasn’t an attempt to mimic any specific movie or emulsion, but just achieve a general filmic look through cellphone photography—make it seem less digital and more analog-like, except without all of the editing that is traditionally required. As a mother of four and behind-the-scenes Fuji X Weekly cohort, Amanda is quite busy, and doesn’t have time for extensive editing, so post-processing pictures could not be a prerequisite for achieving a filmic aesthetic.

I started with a Sandmarc case for her iPhone 13 Pro because Sandmarc has an adapter, which they call Step Up Ring Filter Mount, that allows you to use filters on your cellphone camera. This adapter has 40.5mm threads, and, using a 40.5mm-49mm step up ring that I already owned, I was able to mount my 20% CineBloom diffusion filter to Amanda’s iPhone. I felt that this filter would be a key component to achieving a filmic look, and the Sandmarc case with the Step Up Ring Filter Mount plus the 40.5mm-49mm step up ring was the easiest way to get that CineBloom filter onto her iPhone.

I’m sure the Sandmarc case isn’t the only one that allows you to use filters, but it is the one we got, and so far it seems to be a quality product. It works well and is reasonably inexpensive, so it’s easy to recommend. It did take a fall; while the case kept the phone safe and undamaged (which is great!), it did leave a noticeable mark on the case itself. Another note: Sandmarc has their own line of filtersincluding a diffusion filter—but we used the 20% CineBloom because I already own it for my Fujifilm X100V. I personally really like CineBlooms, but the brand of diffusion filter doesn’t really matter all that much, I don’t think.

On the iPhone 13 Pro, you can attach the filter over the main 26mm camera or over the telephoto 77mm camera, but not over the ultra-wide 13mm camera. You can only use it on one camera at a time, so it does take some of the convenience out of using the iPhone for photography—not only do you have to carry the filter, but also screw it over the correct lens. Not a dealbreaker for this method, but certainly a limitation that one should be aware of.

The camera app that Amanda uses is RitchieCam, which has filters inspired by film, crafted to have an analog essence. Designed with a one-step philosophy, RitchieCam produces photos that are ready to be shared or printed the instant that they’re captured. RitchieCam was recently enthusiastically endorsed by Leigh & Raymond Photography as their favorite iPhone camera app—it was one of their five suggested ways for achieving a film look on a digital camera. RitchieCam is my very own camera app; download it for free today from the Apple App Store!

I said that the 20% CineBloom was key to getting a filmic look because diffusion filters take the digital edge off of digital pictures. It blooms the highlights and softens the shadows more like negative film. Also, diffusion filters have been a cinematographic tool long before they were popular for still photography, so the aesthetic produced by these filters is inherently filmic. Below is an example of what a diffusion filter does to an image. I chose this particular set because the difference is obvious; oftentimes the effect is a little less apparent, especially if there is not a bright light source (such as the sun) in or near the frame. The strongest CineBloom is 20%, so if you find it to be too strong, consider the 10% or 5% options instead—sometimes subtlety is preferable.

With CineBloom filter
Without CineBloom filter

Below are some of Amanda’s pictures captured with her iPhone 13 Pro using RitchieCam and the 20% CineBloom filter, made possible by the Sandmarc case and filter adapter. Combining RitchieCam with a diffusion filter produces images with a filmic quality, and, because editing isn’t required, this process works well for those who don’t have time to post-process their pictures, or who only want to do quick adjustments.

RitchieCam App — Analog Gold filter — iPhone 13 Pro — Photo by Amanda Roesch
RitchieCam App — Sunny Day filter — iPhone 13 Pro — Photo by Amanda Roesch
RitchieCam App — Vintage Kodak filter — iPhone 13 Pro — Photo by Amanda Roesch
RitchieCam App — Vintage Kodak filter — iPhone 13 Pro — Photo by Amanda Roesch
RitchieCam App — Vintage Kodak filter — iPhone 13 Pro — Photo by Amanda Roesch
RitchieCam App — Instant Color 2 filter — iPhone 13 Pro — Photo by Amanda Roesch

Visit to learn more about the App. Also, RitchieCam is on Instagram!

Creative Collective 037: Tilted Filter for Flare

I made a really interesting discovery: if you tilt a diffusion filter and spin it, you can control the lens flare and bloom. For example, in the pictures above, I twisted the tilted filter, and the flare and bloom around the street lamp go from sideways to diagonal. There are several creative applications of this!

Below, I’ll explain how I made this filter (it’s simple!), and what you can do with it.

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My Fujifilm X100V Adapter & Filters

I’ve been asked a few times recently what adapter and filters I use on my Fujifilm X100V. I will state right off the bat that my choices aren’t necessarily the “best” ones, it’s just what I’ve done. There are likely better options, and perhaps different choices that would be better for you, so keep that in mind. With that said, let me get right into the adapter and filters that I use on my Fujifilm X100V.

The X100V doesn’t initially appear to be able to accept filters. There are no screw-in threads visible. But there’s a “secret” ring around the lens that unscrews to reveal threads, but these threads cannot accept filters. You need to buy an adapter to screw into those threads that has its own threads that filters can screw into. Make sense?

The top reason why you want to do this is because the X100V is almost weather-sealed. The one unsealed point is the lens, but Fujifilm says that if you put a filter in front of it, that should give you protection from the elements. To complete the weather-sealing process, you need to buy an adapter and filter.

This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.

Fujifilm offers their own adapter, but it’s not cheap. I’m a cheapskate, so I went with the $10 Haoge adapter instead, and saved about $40. I think the only disadvantage is that the lens cap fits a little loosely over the adapter, but probably fits snugly on the Fujifilm option (just guessing). There are lots of other choices, including some that have a lens hood included. I don’t think which adapter you choose is all that important, but obviously it’s got to work for you.

I have tons of filters, some going back to the film days. Many of them are not 49mm (the correct filter size for the X100V), but some are, and I don’t use all of them. The number one most used filter is the Fotasy 49mm Ultra Slim UV, which is less than $10. For under $20, it’s possible to add that layer of weather protection to give you some peace of mind. I also own a Hoya UV filter (that predates my X100V), but it’s black and I prefer silver, so I don’t usually use it (yet I have used it), and a Nicna UV filter, which I have no idea where it came from. The UV filter doesn’t do much for you photographically, but it does give a layer of protection, and 90% of the time this is how my X100V is configured.

About 10% of the time I use a diffusion filter instead of (or in conjunction with) the UV filter. The one that I use the most is the 5% CineBloom, which gives a very subtle effect. A 10% CineBloom and 1/4 Black Pro Mist are occasionally used, while a 20% CineBloom is almost never used because it is so strong. If I could only have one, it would be the 5% CineBloom, but I do use the 10% CineBloom and 1/4 Black Pro Mist sometimes, and even use them together, so it’s nice having them around. I have considered buying a 1/8 Black Pro Mist because I think I’d use it frequently, but I haven’t pulled the trigger on that one yet.

What’s left? I own a Tiffen 49mm Circular Polarizer that I rarely use. I probably should use it more, because CPLs are great for reducing unwanted reflections. To some extent, it’s theoretically possible to mimic Color Chrome FX Blue with a CPL filter, I think, although I’ve never tried. I also have a Hoya Intensifier (a.k.a. Didymium filter or Starscape filter) that I’ve used a few times. I have some 49mm color filters for B&W film photography, but obviously those don’t work well on the X100V (I tried). I also have a Hoya 80A filter, which actually does work on the X100V, but I pretty much never use it.

I’m not sure which filters are right for you, but at the very least consider attaching an adapter and UV filter to give your Fujifilm X100V a little more weather protection. I like using diffusion filters sometimes, but not all of the time, and usually less is more when it comes to these. That’s what works for me, but you’ll have to figure out what works for you. Hopefully, this article is helpful to some of you. Let me know in the comments which filters you use on your X100-series camera, because I’d love to know.

Creative Collective 001: Stacking Diffusion Filters

In my article No Edit Photography: 7 Tips To Get The Film Look From Your Digital Photos, I suggested that you should sometimes use diffusion filters (Tip 3) in order to better achieve an analog aesthetic. In that article I stated, “You want the effect to be subtle.” I think that’s generally good advice, as in most circumstances subtleness will get you the best results. But what happens when you ignore the “rules” and get crazy? What happens when you use multiple diffusion filters together in order to get a bold effect? This article will explore those questions, and hopefully it will inspire you to do your own experiments with diffusion filters.

Ready to get crazy?

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