When it comes to the top photo apps, Instagram, with its 300 million monthly users, seemingly has the game on lock.
But VSCO Cam — a three-year-old photo-editing app — has better filters (“presets”) and editing capabilities. And though its follower base is still peanuts compared to Instagram, more and more people are using it.
Chances are, if you have a friend who’s into taking pictures, they are using VSCO Cam. They could even be behind one of the 122 million #vscocam tagged posts on Instagram.
I’ve personally been using VSCO Cam for a little over a month now and I’m obsessed. What makes the app so special and different than Instagram is that its goal is to make your pictures look like they were taken with a real camera instead of a phone. The company says all of its presets are inspired by different types of real film stocks.
VSCO Cam also has its own photo feed and user profiles, but co-founder Joel Flory told The Verge back in 2013 it had no plans of taking on Instagram.
“[Our users] are utilising Instagram for what it’s great at: connecting,” he told The Verge. “It’s a great communication too, and VSCO is focused on photography tools.”
Keep reading to see how to use VSCO Cam, the app that could unseat Instagram.
VSCO Cam is the free photo app that makes your pictures look like they were shot professionally, like this one.
When you download VSCO Cam, you'll see an introduction slide that tells you about your VSCO feed where you can follow other VSCO photographers, or 'creatives.'
This is what your home screen will look like. You can toggle between your library, your feed, and your profile.
If you want, you can also take a picture from within the VSCO app. It has a range of controls like manual focus, shutter speed, white balance, and more. The dotted circle in the top left will help you access those features. When you select a control, it will be highlighted in white.
All the photos you take in VSCO are stored in your library. You can also import other pictures from your camera roll using the plus sign. I chose an old picture that I liked, but was way too dark.
Once you click on a photo, you'll have three options -- a paint brush, a tool icon, or the option to remove existing edits. Once you make any changes, a backwards arrow will appear and let you delete your most recent edit.
The paint brush will bring up 10 filter options or 'presets' that are all at the bottom of your screen. To fade the preset effect, tap the filter twice to bring up a sliding bar.
For anyone that wants more filter options, you can also buy sets of presets like the 'Alchemy Collection' that's best for lifestyle photography or the 'Minimalist Collection' that claims to make architecture and still lives look amazing.
If you're still not feeling the presets, click on the tool icon to get a bunch of different effects like saturation, sharpness, brightness, and cropping. VSCO Cam has seven different cropping options -- way more options than Instagram!
VSCO also has an editing tool called 'Skin Tone' that can balance the green or red tones of your skin.
Once you're happy with your picture, you can click to see all of the changes you made and adjust accordingly.
Then click the check mark to save the image to your VSCO Cam Library or to your own photo library. You can also save it to your VSCO grid with a caption and location tag, as well as Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.