With a community of people sharing their shots, the need for getting just the right aesthetic has increased. If you are an Instagrammer, blogger, or photography enthusiast- you would be familiar with the satisfaction obtained when you get the aesthetic of your shot just right. However, sometimes, the light may be coming from the opposite direction, or the near-perfect shot may be too bright for use.
It is here that some quick edits can help you out. As you embark on your journey to capture the world in all its glory- we have complied a list of ten photo editing apps that can help you make those good images great. Excited? Read on! This article is reviewed by a professional filmmaker and photographer, Arun F Xaviour, so learn some cool tips and tricks to get going.
Arun is an Electronics and Media Technology graduate with more than five years of experience in photography. He spent two years working on various projects honing the art of direction and cinematography. As an enthusiast of movies and filmmaking, Arun enjoys his leisure time recreating popular movie scenes with a twist of his own.
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Table of Contents
Before we list our top ten favourites, we have mentioned some essentials that you should consider before downloading any app. These will help you to make an informed and smart decision.
For example- if you have a portrait photograph of yourself in the mountains on a sunny day, and you want to amplify the warmth of the photo to emphasise the sunny feel- use a filter that has an orange hue! Thus, such filters come in handy when you want to make quick edits.
Most apps have some filters available for free and many more available with a paid subscription. The description on the app store and google play mentions the number of filters the app will provide- choose the app that has the widest range of filters and good reviews. Fun fact for phone photographers- VSCO is known for its sophisticated range of filters.
The best filters will always require purchases. But don't be disheartened. Spend more time on learning what contrast, vibrance, ambiance, hue, white balance, etc., will do to an image, and you will be able to reproduce your favorite filters precisely.
Make sure the app you are using allows you to customize the filter; for example, control the intensity of the effect, shadows, highlights, etc. This level of control allows you to create unique looks rather than upload another photo edited with a time-worn filter.
Some photographers like to edit their shots more freely and look for tools that let them retouch light and other details closely and create their own ‘moods’. Thus, if you want to adjust settings like- exposure, grain, sharpness, softness, and so on by yourself- go for apps that have good quality tools.
Although most apps will have these basic tools, the quality of the edits varies with every app as some can alter the resolution. While the camera app of most phones come with in-built tools, they tend not to be as sophisticated as the ones available in these apps. That is, editing apps can enable you to choose specific areas of the photo and make the desired edits.
This is called area-specific editing or selective editing. For example- if you want to make your teeth whiter, you need to simply tap the requisite tool and select the area you wish to edit. It then allows you to modify the chosen area of your photograph.
Two of the most popular apps offering selective editing are Snapseed and Adobe Lightroom. Selective editing in Lightroom is much more sophisticated and allows more control compared to Snapseed, but you have to subscribe to the premium version to access this function.
Selective editing is not just about changing the hue, saturation, and exposure of a particular section of an image. A feature called "Head Pose" in Snapseed allows you to increase pupil size, make a smile wider, and make minute but significant changes to the shape of a person's face. Instagram models will find such features interesting.
In simple terms, RAW image files are, as the name says- ‘raw’. This means that these images are minimally processed or not processed at all by the camera when clicked. RAW is a heavier file and preserves the original colours of the photograph. Thus, you get a wider scope to make all the adjustments and edits.
You will have full control to alter the light of the photo by modifying saturation, exposure, shadows and more. However, JPEG images are processed the moment they are clicked. This means that the image’s brightness, saturation, white balance, etc. are altered within the camera only. Since JPEG files are already processed; the scope of editing the picture is not much.
Apps like Snapseed that allow you to click in RAW format will, as explained, give you more freedom for editing to help you get the nearly exact desired outcome. This feature is handy for professional photographers who know how to play with light and image colours.
Compared to a jpeg image, a RAW image has more color information that gives you even more control over various aspects of the image like tone, tint, etc. RAW images also have more details in their highlights and shadows.
Although there are apps that allow RAW image capture, the ability of a smartphone camera to capture RAW images depends on whether the smartphone has Camera2. Camera2 is an Application Programming Interface (API) added by a smartphone manufacturer that gives the stock camera.
And also apps to certain features that allow manual exposure, ISO control, and also RAW image capture. If your smartphone doesn't have it, your camera won't be able to capture RAW images. You can check if your smartphone has Camera2 API using an app like Camera2 API Probe.
Lastly, apps like Instasize offer a border and sizing feature for social media uploads. That is, the app will fit your photo into a square, an Instagram ‘full’ layout, and more. The remaining area of the photo will usually have white borders that can be customised with colours and images. This feature is useful for those who don’t wish to crop their shots for uploads.
Some apps also allow you to add text to your photographs. They have a huge variety of fonts and font colours to choose from. You need to simply tap the text option and type what you desire. The app will place the text on the photographs and will also let you manually adjust its placement.
Some photo editors allow basic graphic designing too. This feature allows you to create catchy call-to-action posters, flyers, postcards, and certificates. If you own a business, you will find this feature extremely handy. One such app that I use is Canva. The free version itself offers lots of templates and customization options.
The range of apps available is so wide that even expert editors find it tough to choose just one app for their editing requirements. This is largely because each app has its own specialisation, or an individual might only like a feature or two of one app. Even if you have to download multiple apps, you don’t have to worry about the space as they are not very big in size.
For example- bloggers like the filter range of VSCO, the overlays of Afterlight, the border function of Instasize, and so on. Thus, feel free to mix and match various features in different apps to get your desired result!
Photos uploaded to social media sites are automatically compressed. Some apps export images in a lower quality too. If you plan on using multiple apps to edit your photos, there is a chance for progressive degradation in image quality. So make sure to check the image for any reduction in clarity after using each app.
Some apps, like Instagram and VSCO, come with a social section. This entails the creation of a photo sharing community. Millions of users upload their photographs. Some of them even look like pieces of art in this section.
If you like appreciating photographs, connecting with fellow photographers, find more people who like what you want, and get some inspiration, and creative insight- these apps will help you out. All you would have to do is- follow the people and pages you like, and the app will create a feed for you.
Check if the app allows you to share directly to social media. You will be able to share your pictures directly as Instagram posts or stories, Facebook status, WhatsApp status, or even send them as a message to your friends.
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This is the one-stop-shop for everything you would need. Google’s Snapseed is one of the best and the most loved photo editing app owed to its superior and professional features. It is used by beginners and experts alike. The app has many filters and tools that will make your editing experience wholesome. All the features of this app are free.
Further, the app also allows clicking RAW images. It has many advanced editing features that will enable you to remove unwanted objects, make area-specific corrections, and even check your photograph's curves for adjusting brightness.
The app has many creative features, including overlays, tonal contrast editing, and more that will virtually allow you to alter the photograph significantly. However, this app may be difficult to use for total beginners as the features are not easy to navigate. For example, beginners might know how to use curves or edit the light in photographs.
This app comes with a wide range of filters, some of which are available for free while others are available after buying a subscription. With a range of advanced tools, overlays, and other creative features that never cease to surprise- this app has managed to garner a lot of positive reviews from happy users especially because of its interesting overlays.
It also lets you add borders and frames to photographs. Expert editors can view advanced curves to edit more precisely. You can also edit specific areas of photographs and even add text to your image while editing.
Famous among avid photographers, VSCO has one of the most sophisticated choices of filters to choose from. Those who have used VSCO know that the filters it offers are a ‘mood’ in themselves. That is, they are so unique that they give a peculiar look and feel to any photograph. You can control the intensity of filters also.
It has a range of advanced tools that let you edit photos as per your liking. Its range of overlays is good too. The app also lets you add borders and frames with interesting colours. What differentiates this app is the social section that creates a community of photographers who share and get inspired. It is a one-of-a-kind app owed to the uniqueness of its editing abilities.
Known for its ‘retouch and reshape’ features- Facetune can become your go-to app when it comes to area-specific editing, especially that of portraits and selfies. It lets you select areas that require enhancement very closely so that your photograph's originality or the face is maintained.
For example- if you want to give your hair a smoother, shiny finish, select the ‘smoothening’ tool and use your finger to demarcate the desired areas of requirement, which in this case is the hair. Users love the ‘paint’ feature of this app. The feature allows you to paint and add colour at strategic places like a blush on cheeks or lip-stain on the lips and so on.
The filter range is wide but very peculiar and does not suit everyone’s liking because of the overstated shades. It also has a range of advanced tools like the whitening tool and so on. One downside is that most features can only be unlocked by opting for a subscription.
The app has various options to fit the photo in different frame sizes for social media uploads, without cropping the original photo. So be it an Instagram story, Instagram full size, WhatsApp display square, Facebook frames, Pinterest frame or anything else- this app probably has it.
The frames and borders can be customised using patterns, cute backgrounds, and even other photographs that can be blurred as well. Further, it has a range of filters to choose from; however, most of them are available on purchase of a subscription fee.
Other advanced tools, text addition feature, and background options are available for free. The app has a wide range of overlays as well. You can even create collages using this app. The app comes in handy when you want to make quick edits for social media uploads.
This app is particularly known for its wide range of filter options and unique creative effects. The app has advanced tools, more than 200 font styles for adding text to photo, stickers and interesting effects as well. The app can also retouch specific areas and remove unwanted objects from the whole photo.
The app also allows for the border option that can be customised with interesting patterns, colours, and photographs. The app also has what are called ‘beauty tools’- these let you alter hair colour, apply makeup stickers, and more.
The app is by the known and trusted creators- adobe, known for their photo-editing software Photoshop. For all those who cannot afford the paid version, this app acts as a saviour. It has a lot of advanced features that allow eye correction, complex layering, selective editing, and even creating customised stickers.
The app has all features- filters, advanced tools, collage maker, watermark adders, perspective corrector, and many more. This is a handy tool for advanced editors who are looking for a free but sophisticated tool to use. With this app, the sky is the limit for editing photographs.
Instagram has basic editing options and an incredibly famous range of filters, some of which have a border option as well. It allows you to edit and upload images side-by-side. It has advanced tools also that serve their basic functionality. You can use this app for making some quick edits and basic finishing touches to your photographs.
Another famous app by Adobe- Lightroom Photo Editor is loved by its users for its colour correction features and the fact that it keeps the quality of the photo intact. It has a range of filters, and you can also create your own presets, which you can also share with others. This app has a professional touch to it and is available for free!
With many advanced tools, selective editing options, layering options, and creative features- be sure to experience some of the most advanced features available. This app goes a step ahead by providing you with phone camera controls that allow you to capture RAW files, HDR, and professional shots. The app also creates a gallery that uses AI to organise images.
That means it will identify people or objects and give them a suitable name such as as- ‘Anjali’ or ‘tree’. Lastly, the app also lets you share your images with an online community and also check the works of others in the discover section of the app. It uses AI to personalise content according to your taste.
This app is not very famous but has unique creative features that will leave your audience scratching their head in a bid to understand how you edited your photograph. The creative features look very professional but are actually quite easy to add. Further, it has a range of filters, and the app lets you create your own set of pre-sets as well.
The app has been loved by limited users who have used it. It also has retouching features that help in making selective edits- you can smoothen out your skin, whiten your teeth, enhance the face, and also use various other beauty tools. The app has a paid version also that unlocks many more features.
Social media is crowded with photos edited with age-old filters. Whether you run an Instagram page to showcase your photography skills or a fitness and lifestyle Facebook page, you need to make your photos unique. Here are some tips to achieve just that:
Looking for more smartphone applications that'll make you efficient? Be sure to check out the best meditating apps below and ensure personal growth, just a touch away!
When it comes to editing photographs- everyone follows a different approach such that, there is no right or wrong answer. However, if you know your requirements that is, the kind of light you want for your photographs and the tools that would make your vision a reality.
This guide is the only thing you will need to figure out the best app that will give you the required results. And again, you can choose multiple apps too and edit your photographs just the right way.
Author: Shivangi Sharma
No. 1：Google LLC｜Snapseed
No. 2： Afterlight Collective, Inc｜ Afterlight
No. 4：Lightricks Ltd.｜Facetune
No. 5：Instasize, Inc.｜Instasize
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