Lenka: A Minimalist B&W iOS Camera App that Won’t Even Let You Take Selfies

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Characterizing a black and white camera app as ‘minimal’ feels a bit like characterizing an elephant as ‘big’… or a coffee shop in Williamsburg as ‘hipster.’ Of course it’s minimal, it only shoots black and white! But one look at the new iOS app Lenka and you’ll realize why we used that term.

Created by photographer Kevin Abosch, Lenka is the result of dissatisfaction with the black-and-white options out there. As the saying goes: see a need, fill a need; and so Abosch, who has tried his hand at app development before, put together Lenka.


The app, much like black-and-white photography itself, is stripped down to the bare essentials. You can only use the rear-facing cameras (when it comes to selfies, just say NO), your picture mode options include normal and high-contrast, and you can choose to turn the flash bulb on or off for a source of continuous lighting in dark environments.

Beyond that, you’re also able to share the results out to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Email or iMessage, but there is no in-app social network or further filtering options. If you want to edit and tweak your Lenka creation further, you’ll have to export it into another app.


But that sort of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? Lenka’s simplicity is what makes the app so alluring in the first place. No unnecessary controls, no filters, no color; heck, no front-facing camera functionality.

If one of mobile photography’s most compelling aspects is that it forces you to focus on what matters most — that being composition and light — Lenka takes that aspect to its extreme by stripping away even the option to focus on aught else.

Simplicity, however, comes at a price. The self-described “simple yet powerful” app will run you $3, more than many of Lenka’s more feature-rich competitors like Hueless. It’s up to you to decide whether or not the results are worth the price.

Learn more about the app or pick up your own copy by heading over to the iTunes App Store.

  • mlianopr


  • TN

    the reflecting apple logo on the back of the device, makes for a good selfie mirror.. provided one learns how to aim it

  • Sebastian Soiden

    That’s how you took selfies before the front camera. There was a mirror in every phone just next or below the camera.

  • stevewrigley

    had a lot of potential this app.. love the simple layout & tone from the images.. shame there’s no hardware shutter release from the volume button.. which is an absolute necessity for me.. :(

  • Andreas Constantijn

    I agree, they just seem to forget this feature in many photo apps…

  • TN

    yeah.. it seems that the techniques aren’t publicized bc we have front facing cameras that are almost as good as the rear facing cameras on the non-smart phones 0_o

  • GersonOnTheT

    Thanks for the info; this looks very promising. Can I just say that I find it hilarious that we who spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on camera gear, still find $3 to be so much money for an app that there’s a warning at the end of the article about the price? This isn’t a criticism of the article itself at all. I just find our double standard about app pricing vs. everything else to be funny and illogical.

  • Felipe Foncea

    b&w option in iphone 5s camera app (mono) v/s lenka (same light conditions – front natural light)

  • Monika Bauer

    I agree! Really, is $3 going to break the budget after spending money on the smartphone itself??

  • Ben Woodworth

    Snapseed has some great black and white options that are fully customizable. And it’s free. I know that it’s not as “simple” and “clean” as this app, but it’s free and does just as good of job, if not better.

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  • Manuel Cordero

    What i would like to see is an app that TRULY emulates films and develpment times of film and paper. maybe even some animations of the image coming out from the negative or something so newbies could experience what it is like to print in the darkroom and get excited about it. either that or hate it forever. that’s when they know if they were truly made to be photographers.

  • Jason Muspratt

    Have a look at an app called “Thirty Six”. You can’t even see your photos until you finish a roll, but you can finish a roll early.

  • Jason Muspratt

    You know what would be nice? A comparison to other apps, and some real world tests, not just a press release for a paid app that is boasting “Now with less features!”. I think there is a place for these type of apps, but without a compelling reason to use this app over anything else it just seems like they are asking $3 to make you feel a bit more elitist. IF there is a compelling reason (beyond that “less distracting” rubbish), please let us know.