Lenka (US$2.99) is a simple app to help you create dramatic black and white images. The app was developed by famed photographer Kevin Abosch and it's starkly simple. To begin with, you frame your photo, which is visible in black and white in real time on your iPhone. There are only a couple of options: regular or high contrast. You can change the format from rectangular to square, and then you can start firing away. The only available editing tools allow rotation and cropping.
That may seem like a pretty sparse feature set, but the idea here is to get the picture right, then take it. The author considers the use of filters a potential distraction. Still, there's nothing that keeps you from importing your photo into another editing app on your own.
The photos taken with Lenka look very good. A great deal of thought has been applied to matching to software to the characteristics of the iPhone camera hardware. (The developers recommend an iPhone 5, 5c or 5s, but the app will work on older iPhones.) Lenka will autofocus, or you can tap the screen to selectively focus on a specific point.
Lenka for iPhone
Of course, you can take any iPhone photo and turn it into monochrome using the many paid and free filters out there, but the black and white images from Lenka looked superior in tone and subtlety to the other apps I tried.
One other feature Lenka provides is turning on the flash to illuminate your subject. The light stays on steadily, rather than giving a brief flash. The app won't allow you to use the lower quality front-facing camera. It's all about the image and giving it as much data as the iPhone allows, so no selfies for you.
Photos can be sent to your camera roll or to Instagram. Black and white photography has its own rewards, and portraits or landscapes can look amazing in grayscale. I'm impressed with Lenka because I like the look of the photos, and it forces me to think about my image rather than endlessly enhancing it digitally.
Lenka is not a universal app. It's best suited to the iPhone. It requires iOS 7 or later, and it worked fine under my current beta of iOS 8.