Everybody wants their Instagram feed to look great. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a wannabe influencer who wouldn’t mind having tens (or hundreds) of thousands of followers, or if you’re the kind of user who just posts photos for a small circle of friends and family to see. No matter how many people are going to see your photos, you probably want them to look as good as possible. Instagram has a few filters and features that can help in that regard, but if you really want your Instagram photos to look professional, it’s probably time to enlist the help of another app or two.
Everybody knows that there are apps that can apply filters to a photo, just as there are apps that can crop a photo, or create a collage. But did you know that there are some apps that can help you level up your Instagram game in other ways? In fact, you can download an app that specializes in creating great black-and-white photos. You can install several that help you to subtly perfect a selfie. You can even find apps that make things that aren’t strictly photos — like Live Photos, time-lapses, and GIFs — look better on Instagram, too.
Now that Instagram has moved to an algorithmic feed, making your photos look great is even more important than ever before. It’s time to move beyond Instagram’s built-in filters and features and find some apps that can make your photos stand out. Read on to check out our favorite apps for the many different kinds of Instagram photos. Whether you’re an iPhone user or have an Android phone, favor bright and colorful snaps or prefer black-and white-shots, you’re sure to find an app or two that’ll make your Instagram photos look even better than they already do.
Afterlight, which is available for iOS, Android, and Windows, features 74 filters that are fully adjustable and customizable for the exact photo you’re working on. It also has textures, like light leaks that you’d see on 35mm film, to add additional effects to your photos. The app even enables you to create your own presets by mixing tools, filters, and effects to get exactly the look that you want.
Litely, which is available for iOS, offers what it calls “subtle” filters — which is a great find if real film-inspired tones are your style. The free version of the app includes a starter pack of professionally-crafted presets, and there are even more filters available as in-app purchases. Litely also enables you to adjust crop, exposure, sharpness, vibrance, and vignetting.
Priime, which is available for iOS and Mac, enables you to add a professional finish to your photos with presets created (and used) by popular pro photographers. Each of these filters is created in collaboration with those photographers, and in the style that they favor in their own photography.
BLACK, which is available for iOS, is one of the best apps to download if you want your Instagram photos to look like black-and-white film photos. In fact, the app features 10 presets, which are designed to look like films including Fuji Neopan 400, Ilford HP5, Kodak TRI-x 400, and Fuji FP-3000B. You can also control the tones and contrast of your photos, or add fading or vignetting.
5. Camera Noir
Camera Noir, which is available for iOS, claims to be the most powerful black-and-white photo editor in the App Store. The app features a live, editable histogram plus a clarity slider, which enables you to apply fine contrast in specific parts of an image. You can also take advantage of granular luminance controls, and either apply classic film presets or create presets of your own.
MuseCam, which is available for iOS, offers both film-emulating presets and professional-grade editing tools — perfect for users who want more granular control over how their Instagram photos turn out. The app enables you to create custom presets, adjust the curves and color of each photo, simulate a shallow depth of field, or correct distortion. You can even shoot photos right in MuseCam to precisely and independently control the shutter, ISO, white balance, and focus of each shot.
SKRWT, which is available for iOS and Android, offers some advanced editing features that are difficult to find in other apps. They include perspective correction, full auto-cropping, and all-purpose lens correction. The app also features an EXIF reader, a gallery-sorting function, and a preview function that makes it easy to select your favorite images to edit for Instagram.
Snapseed, which is available for iOS and Android, is what Google calls a “professional photo editor.” This fully-featured app has a wide variety of editing tools. You can adjust exposure and color automatically or manually, selectively retouch exposure or saturation, remove unwanted parts of an image, add background blur, or add filters, frames, and effects. Snapseed is a great editing app if you want to take your Instagram photos to the next level, beyond what simple filters can achieve.
VSCO, which is available for iOS and Android, offers its own community of photographers and creatives. But it’s also one of the best apps for applying filters and light edits to your Instagram photos. You can even shoot your photos right from the VSCO app, where you can take advantage of advanced camera controls and then apply VSCO’s presets. Even better is the fact that the app incorporates all kinds of sophisticated editing features, which makes the app much more sophisticated than one that just has filters and a few light editing features.
Facetune, available for iOS and Android, is an app that lets you edit selfies (and portraits) with an array of specialized tools. The app is designed to provide natural-looking results. Regardless of your opinions on Photoshopped models, it may come in handy to have an app that can subtly perfect skin, whiten teeth, correct distortion, and even remove dark circles and blemishes.
11. Photoshop Fix
Photoshop Fix, available for iOS, brings the powerful retouching tools of Photoshop to your iPhone or iPad. The app gives you an assortment of powerful tools for perfecting your selfies, with tools that enable you to liquify, heal, patch, smooth, lighten, and darken. You can also edit and adjust the exposure, contrast, saturation, and focus of your Instagram shots.
Time-lapses, Live Photos, and looping videos
Boomerang, available for iOS and Android, enables you to create mini looping videos that are perfect for sharing on Instagram. The app is simple and easy to use, and has just a single button. When you press that button, the app shoots a burst of 10 photos and then turns them into a video. It also speeds up the video, irons out any bumps, and then loops the video back and forth.
DSCO, available for iOS, is a GIF-making app that you won’t want to be without. The app enables you to capture GIFs and edit them with your favorite VSCO presets. The only drawback? To share a GIF to Instagram, you’ll need to share it to your VSCO profile first, and after that you’ll be able to upload it to Instagram.
Hyperlapse, available for iOS, is an app that enables you to create great time-lapse videos. The app uses advanced stabilization technology to smooth out your footage and makes it easy to shoot time-lapse videos even when you’re moving. If you don’t have an iPhone, you can use Microsoft Hyperlapse to access many of the same features on Android or Windows.
15. Motion Stills
Motion Stills, available for iOS, is a Google app that enables you to edit and share the Live Photos you’ve captured on your iPhone 6s or iPhone 7. You can use the app to share your Live Photos as looping GIFs, or edit them together into longer videos. The app features stabilization technology to make your Live Photos smoother and more beautiful. And you can even use the app to convert your Live Photos into video clips in order to upload them to Instagram.
Better camera apps
Manual, which is available for iOS, enables you to take photos with custom exposures. You can independently control the shutter speed, ISO, white balance, focus, and exposure compensation. Other great app features that help you take great Instagram photos include a histogram, focus zoom, a fill flash mode, and a rule of thirds grid.
Moment, which is available for iOS, is a great (and free) app to consider if you’re willing to switch out your camera app in order to get better photos for Instagram. The app enables you to use gestures to control light and focus, which means that you’ll get better photos that require less editing after you capture them. You can auto-expose or tap the screen to get the focus precisely where you want it. You can control focus and exposure independently, and make big adjustments or precise corrections to get the perfect photo.