What Is Grainery? An Overview of the Instagram Alternative for Film Photographers

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What Is Grainery? An Overview of the Instagram Alternative for Film Photographers

Tired of Instagram? Are your photos not getting as much love as they used to? If you’re a film photographer of any experience level or simply enjoy the artistic style of film, Grainery should be an app at the top of your list to try.


Here’s everything you need to know about the Instagram replacement for film photographers.


What is Grainery?

Grainery is a website and mobile app for film photographers. As Instagram becomes a platform for everything from ads and news to short-form videos, it’s becoming less fun to use for photographers.

It brings to light some smaller platforms that don’t get as much love, like VSCO and Grainery. In fact, many photographers are switching from Instagram to VSCO.

The developers want Grainery to feel familiar but have unique features that those who shoot film will love. Grainery is currently available on its desktop website, iOS (Beta), and Android (Beta).

For the best iPad experience, visit the desktop website and then add a shortcut to the home screen. It will then appear as an app without having to use the iOS Beta, which is only available on mobile devices.

Grainery layout and user interface

The layout is going to look very familiar to those coming from Instagram.

The Homepage

Grain desktop website home page

One small change Instagram users have been missing for a while now is the chronological order of photos on the home page of users you follow. Other than that, the Grainery home page is just as you’d expect, with likes, comments, share and save options in the same place.

The Explore page

Grainery desktop website explore page

The binoculars logo takes you to the explore page. It’s laid out much nicer than Instagram’s. It brings up options to browse popular cams, view suggested profiles, and check out the latest and top performing posts on the platform.

Your profile

grain profile desktop website website saved photos

Your profile page will also look very similar to Instagram’s. However, it’s much easier to find your saved posts because they’re just a tab away. At the time of writing, there is no option to organize your saved posts into folders.

Since the website and mobile app are still relatively new, there are some bugs. Sometimes not all the posts you save while exploring Grainery will actually save. Also, if you switch back to the Saved tab from the Posts tab, your saved photos will disappear; this can be fixed by refreshing the website or restarting the app, but it’s an added nuisance.

However, everything else in your profile will work perfectly. You can write a description of who you are, insert a link to your website and add your gear.

The benefits and unique characteristics of cereals

Let’s take a look at what you can expect from using the Grainery app.

The camera, lens and film are attached to each photo

camera equipment attached to each photo grain work table top lens camera body film location

One of our favorite features of Grainery is the ability to know exactly what camera body, lens and film the uploader used to create that photo. Before you are allowed to upload your post, you must put your main camera body, lens and film in your profile. When you upload a post, you can choose whether your default setup took the photo or specify something else.

This is useful for both users browsing the site and the photographers themselves, as there is no longer a need to comment “what camera do you use?” This makes commentators more likely to talk about the creative nature of the shot.

Panoramic photos

granular panoramic photos on profile

One of the coolest parts of Grainery, and the reason it’s most enjoyable to use on a tablet or larger monitor, is the ability to post panoramic photos. They make your profile look unique and are incredibly beautiful. A lot of work goes into framing panoramic photos, and many photographers use an expensive camera body, like the Hasselblad XPan, to take them.

These are beautiful pictures, so it’s great to see how the developers think of little things like this to improve the experience. Even if you don’t have a film camera capable of shooting “real” panoramas, you can create them digitally with your phone. Using panorama mode also makes for great travel photos.

search results page for canon ae 1 film camera on cereal desktop website

On Instagram, there is only one way to search: using hashtags. They are still used on Grainery, but there are some unique features of the search function to make life a little easier for users. There are three symbols that help filter search results: the exclamation point (!), dollar sign ($) and percent sign (%).

If you put an exclamation mark in front of your search, you will filter for types and brands of film. The film is a big part of how the colors of the photo will look after development; this makes it essential to select the correct film before shooting to get the look you want. This feature is incredibly useful for film photographers.

By placing a dollar sign in front of your search, you can see photos taken with a specific camera. If you’re looking at buying a certain camera, which is often a big investment, being able to see the camera’s results with various types of lenses and films is a really nice feature.

Finally, the percentage sign filters lenses. Lenses can be even more expensive than camera bodies, so it’s just as important to research. It’s also fun to see how each photo differs depending on the type of film used with each lens. The vast majority of lenses you’ll find on film cameras will be prime, meaning they have a fixed focal length and are completely manual. See our guide to prime lenses for more on this.

Grainery+ Membership

grainery+ plus subscription membership information page in profile settings desktop website

Since Grainery is run by a small developer, users supporting the platform monetarily goes a long way, but what do users get in return?

Free members can use the platform just like Instagram, but they can only post a certain number of images. This is to keep costs manageable for solo developer, Kyle Johnston.

In a YouTube interview by Chris Chu, at 11:40, Kyle says that free users can post up to 24 images during the beta. Once the app officially launches, which doesn’t have a set date at the time of writing, users will be able to post up to 36 photos on their profiles.

With Grainery+, which is $3 a month or $36 a year, users can post as many photos as they want and put the style of photos they take in their profile. It may not be worth the cost to some, but the money can go a long way in running additional functions faster.

Future Grainery+ features are said to include a marketplace, forums, developer database and a monthly Grain Grant entry. The Grain Award is a monthly drawing that gives away one roll of film to a subscriber. To see the Grainery+ link, create a free Grainery account, navigate to your profile, go to settings, and then G+ subscription.

Should you try Grainery?

We encourage you to visit Grainery even if you are not a film photographer. Photographs are treated like art, and even the most ordinary parts of everyday life look extraordinary on film. It might encourage you to take up film yourself, or you’ll find it’s simply a fun way to browse artistic photography. We look forward to Grainery’s official launch on all platforms in the future.

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