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8 Best Photo Editing Apps

  What are the Best Photo Editing Apps? Looking for the best free photo editing app? Maybe you're looking for something that will offer a…

What are the Best Photo Editing Apps?

Looking for the best free photo editing app? Maybe you're looking for something that will offer a comprehensive set of tools to make your photos really shine. Fueled, a leader in mobile app development, has put together this list of our 8 favorite editing apps so you can choose which one suits your picture editing needs the most.

Our Go-To Photo Editing App

If I had to pick one app, for general purpose editing of photos and videos, Darkroom is the app I’m opening. I’m that confident of its abilities after testing a whole heck of a lot of photo editing apps. I’m not the only one though, it has been featured by Apple multiple times and remains in the top photo apps.

I’m a little at a loss on where to start with Darkroom while also keeping this fairly brief. The app just does so much and it has continued to expand its functionality with each subsequent update. In terms of core photo editing abilities, there is literally everything you could need. Edit RAW photos and adjust highlights, shadows, saturation, curves, levels, and much more. It even supports batch editing so you can apply similar edits to a group of shots at once.

Those who are avid Instagram posters will love Darkroom even more. Photos can be framed with borders, which can help deal with awkward crops or aspect ratios or further highlight the image within. You can choose exactly the color of the frame, the width, and your target aspect ratio. Also for Insta, Darkroom can store groups of hashtags that can easily be exported for your next post.

It is full of filters, where you can also create your own, color tweaks, and editing for video as well. One of my favorite features is intricate editing for Portrait Mode photos. It can read the depth information from portrait shots and edit the foreground and background independently.

Simply put, if you want the best photo editing app, go download Darkroom right now.

A powerful layer-based photo editor

Pixelmator is a full-featured editor that does a little bit of everything. The company has been a common featured player during Apple’s keynote events. Pixelmator for iPhone allows you to create images from scratch, or edit photos you’ve taken with the iPhone’s cameras.

There are piles of effects here such as miniaturization. Add the effect, adjust the strength and location, and tap apply. Another popular tool are light leaks. There are nearly ten different light leak effects that you overlay that can be fiddled with to your liking.

To tweak your photos, you have access to all the usual adjustments such as levels, brightness, contrast, among others. The way you apply them is very cool as Pixelmator has nailed the user interface. Once you select editing, all the different controls are in a horizontal-scrolling toolbar along the bottom — or side — of your display. It’s very space efficient and easy to access.

Outside of the basic editing, Pixelmator is a perfect option for when you want to do just a little more.

Filters, filters everywhere!

I swear, I knew about VSCO before I knew how popular the app was. I used it, but not a whole lot. Soon after while helping my wife with Instagram, I saw #VSCOgirl was trending. Apparently, this app has been taking over social media.

VSCO does quite a bit. I mean, it’s been growing over the years as popularity has increased. You can edit videos now as well as photos. But what it is most known for are its filters. In the app there are more than 200 filters available that you can apply.

Filters are lovingly crafted and broken down into categories to make it easier to discover. Certain ones play best with portrait shots, others are ideal for landscapes. Scour the list, pick one that looks good, and then further make adjustments until you lock in your look.

Beyond filters, VSCO is a reliable editor as well. Add text, control exposure, brightness contrast, and other sliders. It’s also perfect for enhancing colors. You can pick specific colors to boost and get your photos to pop. VSCO girl or not, there’s a reason so many social media users turn to VSCO.

Photoshop Camera
Surreal photo effects at time of capture

The first time I tried the Photoshop Camera app, I almost didn’t believe how impressive it was. It truly was that cool. Photoshop Camera has what Adobe calls “lenses.” These lenses apply various effects to your images. But these are unlike any other filters we’ve used. They can intelligently alter different parts of your image and can add both animated and static effects.

Let’s do a for instance..! Everyone loves those! So say you’ve taken an amazing shot over a lake. It looks great, but that sky… it’s pretty meh. It’s kind of cloudy, not that blue, and makes an otherwise steller image uninspiring. In Photoshop Camera, that sky can be entirely replaced and swapped out for a vivid blue cloud-dotted sky. There are other effects that can turn your shot into a night scene with a starry sky or a massive moon. It makes your good photo, extraordinary.

There are animated ones too! Reverie will put active fireworks in the sky. Some of the “glam” lenses will surround your head in floating bits of sun-kissed dust. And one of the Blue Sky lenses will create a timelapse of clouds soaring overhead. Look, just go try it out, ok? The app is incredible and has a bunch of other lenses for analog effects, mixed media, food, scenery, pop art, and much more. I’ve been using the app a while and I hope to see Adobe update it with further effects soon.

Lens Distortions
Subtle retro light leaks

Don’t you just hate lens distortions on your SLR? 50 years ago it was probably a yes but these days, mimicking these effects are widely popular. Lens Distortions brings these effects to your shots with minimal effort.

Light hits are the flagship feature of Lens Distortions. These are usually caused by direct light hitting the lens on your camera in such a way that they cause a flare to leak into your image. LD allows these to be placed into your image and tweaked so they look natural. There are multiple types of light hits to choose from such as soft light, principle light, or particulates. Unleash your inner J.J. Abrams.

There are a pile over overlays too that look like issues with film or other occlusions. Lastly, we have nature effects. You can apply fog, steam, rain, snow, and more to your images. Each of these has several looks to choose from and they can be refined til they look how you want.

Mask out certain parts of the effect, increase or decrease opacity, adjust the brightness and softness, and tweak the contrast.

These effects can look so good, you’d never know they were imitation effects and not the real thing.

Adobe’s flagship hero

I probably don’t need to say too much about Lightroom. Just the fact this major app is on iPhone and iPad is an achievement and something to be excited about. Many professional photographers out there rely on Photoshop and Lightroom and its nearly as powerful on mobile as it is on Mac.

If you aren’t familiar, Lightroom is Adobe’s photo editing and storage tool. It can house your image library as well as edit your images. Yup yup, all the basic editing tools are here. Exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, etc. Compared to others, Lightroom can handle healing, cropping, and selective adjustments.

There are a pile of presets you can find online as well as on the App Store to further your images. You can batch apply these filters — whether ones you’ve created or ones you’ve downloaded — to multiple images all at once. And apply profiles (you may know them as filters).

For those that live in the Adobe world, Lightroom is essential. And now it’s on mobile.

Your digital film camera

What Moment has created with RTRO is special. It has created the most impressive retro effects for iPhone photos I’ve seen to date. What all the above have in common is that they’re all filters or overlays that you choose from. But they all *look* the same each time. Every time you apply a light leak, it is the same light leak and can easily look repetitive. That isn’t the case with RTRO.

You choose your look, of which there are many. Each have subtle and not-so-subtle differences that make them unique. But when you apply them, while the look is the same, the exact image is not. Moment has created an engine that will generate a unique appearance each time. It may sound like a small detail, but it makes the difference.

Aside from the various photo effects, it also works for video. Capture clips up to 60 seconds within the app and have these effects applied while recording. If you’re going for a retro look, RTRO is as good as it gets.

Filters and textures for outstanding photos

Within Afterlight, you’ve got access to more than 130 different filters for your photos. Far beyond what the stock app has to offer. But Afterlight goes further by allowing you to create “fusion filters.” These fusion filters allow you to create your own looks by combining adjustments, filters, and texture.

You can use touch to paint over effects, highlighting only specific portions of the image. This includes colors, sharpness, saturation, and other effects and filters. My favorite look though has to be double exposure. Combine multiple photos together to create unique looks sure to get you noticed.

Other benefits of Afterlight include a multitude of light leaks, advanced curve editing, color shifting glitch effects, and dust textures. Frames can be added to your image to get it print or social media ready.

There’s something special about Afterlight. In writing it, most of these features are found elsewhere. But as you’ll see from the app’s examples, is stands out. The photos are vivid and complex but are easy to create.

But enough about other people's apps.


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