Thursday, May 3, 2012

move over instagram, the adults are here: VSCO Cam for iPhone review

As an aspiring photographer, I keep an eye out for photography products that meet two standards:
1. They make photos look better.
2. They improve the speed and ease of photo editing.

Until now, Instagram was king of the hill.  The free pricetag and the vintage-looking filters made Instagram attractive to those of us who feel like digital photos often end up looking cold and mechanical without some touchups.  There were other apps, of course, but no one ruled the roost like Instagram.

Since VSCO Cam launched a week ago, I haven't even touched the Instagram app.  This may not seem remarkable at first, but you should remember that my wife and I had our first baby less than three months ago.  We take photographs multiple times a day, usually with the camera closest at hand (iPhone in my case).  Instagram just wasn't getting the job done.

Why not?
1. Instagram was too one size fits all for me.  I know how to mess with exposure, fill light, etc.  Instagram has one button that "magically" adjusts those settings, usually too harshly to actually use.
2. Instagram filters get tired.  To Instagram's credit, they add filters with updates, but those get tired quickly too.  Truthfully, I've only ever enjoyed three or four of Instagram's filters anyway.  The rest seem like bad sci-fi effects.
3. I hate the forced square cropping.  Like no one has ever composed a picture that deserves the full frame.

What's so great about VSCO Cam?
1. Editing options that are fast, easy, and subtle.  I didn't even see all of the editing controls until I saw them mentioned on VSCO's blog.  (This would be one of my only disappointments with VSCO Cam so far - not as intuitive as it could have been.  Still, no love lost.)
2. Filters that are beautiful and compliment, rather than distort photographs.  A photography-enthusiast friend mentioned today that it looked like some of my VSCO Cam pictures were actually shot on my DSLR.
3. Photographers are given more control over the final product.  Unlike Instagram photos, VSCO Cam photos won't all look alike.  Photographers can control temperature, saturation, etc. to craft the look they want, not the one the presets offer them.

In the end, VSCO Cam is the facebook to Instagram's Myspace.  Instagram got there first, but VSCO Cam got there better and sexier.

The proof, of course, is in the pudding . . .

Left: Cropped, unedited iOS camera // Right: VSCO Cam

Left: Unedited iOS camera // Center: VSCO Cam // Right: Instagram, forced crop (lo-fi filter)

Disclaimer: I am friends with an employee of Visual Supply Co, makers of VSCO Cam, but I paid for my app and have received no compensation or gifts from Visual Supply Co.

You can support this blog and get the best iPhone camera app out there.  Download VSCO Cam on iTunes.


  1. Thanks for this! I can't get an iPhone until Dec., but I'm already saving apps that I want. And I get really tired of seeing grainy, 70s-looking instagram photos.

    1. No problem. If you use photoshop a lot for your job, you should look at their product VSCO Film. My camera isn't supported yet, but it will be soon.


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