The best photo filter apps

March 18, 2015

best iphone apps for filters and effects

Last Wednesday I started a new photography series on my blog and today it’s time for the next feature.  Last week I shared lots of great tips on how to take better iphone photos of your kids.  This week it’s all about the best apps for adding filters and effects to your photos.  With so many photo filter and editing apps out there it can be really confusing to know which ones to use.  So here I’ve picked the ones that I would say are easiest to use and are great to tweak and enhance your everyday photos.  I have focused more on getting quick effects with a range of filters than on editing functions as I’m not a pro photographer and this series really is about enhancing our everyday photos, not about turning pro!  With the right app and the right filter an ordinary photo can look extraordinary and a good photo can look awesome.  Here are my recommendations for the best photo filter apps around:

easy photo editing apps for iphone

1. VSCOcam
This is my favourite app for adding filters to photos.  VSCO has the largest range of filters that I have come across and they are fantastic.  The filters are the most natural looking of any app and are all quite beautiful as you can see from the range above.  With VSCO you can also take photos within the app and then experiment with the filters.  It also has loads of other editing functions like adjusting brightness, adding a grainy effect, sharpening or fading and lots more.  This is definitely the photo editing app I use the most but one word of caution – it’s addictive!  I can spend ages playing around and trying out different filters as there are so many.  The basic filters are free but to get all of them it’s paid but most definitely worth it.

2. Retrica
If you are into your selfies, you’ll love Retrica.  It’s a simple app that allows you to choose from a range of filters and effects to keep your selfies interesting and different.  What I especially like about Retrica is that any filters and effects are done before taking the selfie.  So you get a live preview of exactly what your photo will look like before you click.  Once you click you can instantly share or send wherever you want including Instagram of course.  The free version is more than good enough unless you hate seeing ads on your apps, then you’ll have to go premium.

best photo editing apps on phone

3.  Dash of Colour
This simple app does what it says on the tin and it’s free.  Strictly speaking this isn’t an app for adding filters – there are some basic editing functions and filters but the main purpose of this app is to add a colour effect.  Or what I most love it for is that I never manage clean, crisp white backgrounds to my photo’s and this app helps me get much closer to that.  You simply convert your picture to black and white and then add the colour bits back in by using your finger as a paintbrush.  This allows you to make a certain part of the picture pop like the example with Anya wearing those blue glasses. And also as you can see from the leggings photo – my original picture was quite yellow so I turned the photo to black and white and added back in the bit of pink tape.  So much better!

best-black-white-photo-editing-app

4. Simply B&W
I’m a big fan of black and white photo’s and this is an easy to use app to apply black and white filters to your photos and again it’s free.  While there are many apps that will convert photo’s to black and white, there are normally only one or two pre-sets to choose from.  With this app, you can not only play around with a bigger range of black & white filters but also within each filter you can adjust the effects like the strength of the filter and more.  So the same black and white photo can look completely different as you can see in the pictures above – from giving it a really old, dated feel to a much sharper looking photo.

creative photo apps on iphone5.  Afterlight
Afterlight is a filter lovers dream.  It offers an in app camera too but I don’t really use this – my iphone camera seems just as good.  What I do like about Afterlight is the big range of filters and that they can be layered on top of each other to create even more effects.  Too much of this and your photo will end up looking very unnatural but if you did want to create quite distinct effects you can.  My favourite bit of this app is the fun shapes which can be filled with your photos like the examples above which I love.  From bold capital letters to script letters to shapes like hearts, stars, sun and more.  You can be so creative with these without needing to learn how to do it from scratch.  Afterlight isn’t free but costs just £0.79 or $0.99 so it’s definitely worth it for what you’re getting.

These are my most useful phone photo apps for being easy to use, for creating a range of effects and adding lots of different filters.  And the best part is that most of them are free.  They help easily take an average photo to a fab one without getting in to the technical side.  The best way to use these apps is to experiment with them and try out different filters and effects – you’ll soon learn which are your favourites and you’ll also discover all sorts of tricks to make your photo’s really stand out.

Do you have a photo filter app you love ?  Do share in the comments so we can all try it out.

P.S. Don’t forget to check out last weeks article on taking beautiful iphone photos of your kids.

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