My top 5 Instagram’ing apps

I have about 50 photography and videography apps in my iPhone 5 (and around 10 in my Samsung Galaxy Note 2) but when it comes to Instagram’ing, I only use 3 to 5 apps, with my 3-step instaworkflow, that is, snap-scale-filter. Weird, but like most Instagram’ers, I don’t always use Instagram’s filters, not even the enhanced camera. I actually prefer the native camera app for freezing moments, cropping and applying effects with my favorite and equally easy-to-use phoneography apps, before finally posting to Instagram.

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Above is a screenshot of one of my photo apps folders, containing most of what I frequently use for mobile photography. Read on for my top 5 Instagram’ing apps.

5. AFTERFOCUS. This app makes it easy to create DSLR-like background blurring. It lets you select the focus and background areas easily just by marking the areas (with a line/lasso), AfterFocus will then automatically recognize even the tiniest of details. Photos with more complex shapes and details of course will require more editing. AfterFocus also provides a variety of filter effects so you can finish off your photos with a more natural and realistic look. Its vignetting and B&W Contrast effects are my favorite. It’s available for both iOS (at US$0.99 though not yet optimized for the iPhone 5) and Android (free and a paid Pro version) devices.

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4. VSCO CAM. It’s the simplest to use with only 10 preset effects to choose from. I like the idea of the limited controls streamlining your workflow, allowing you to focus more on creating striking imagery. I’d usually play around with preset 2 for my monochromatic snapshots. It’s an iOS-only app at US$0.99.    

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3. CAMERA+. It’s the all-in-one photography app and the most versatile, perfect for my snap-scale-filter workflow. Camera+ introduced a variety of phoneography features (such as grid view filters, VolumeSnap, and Touch Exposure/Focus) that other apps seem to fail at emulating. It’s Photo Flashlight saves you from snapping dark photos that no one will ever appreciate, though its signature Clarity function is always a relief. I’d tap on Burst to capture the perfect action snapshots and that new Horizon Level feature helps straighten photos and frame that artistic angle. It’s thankfully stuck at its sale price of US$0.99 at the App Store

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2. SNAPSEED. Now free for both iOS and Android, Snapseed is every Instagram’er’s favorite and photography app of choice. With simple, swiping gestures, transforming snapshots from plain-looking to eye-catching is really easy, providing the most basic editing functionality to the more creative photo filters. It gets even better with the iPad version, with which you can take advantage of the bigger screen.

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1. PICTURESHOW. Though its last update was April 2011, for me, this is the perfect companion for Instagram, emulating toy camera styles that I’m really fond of. It has everything I’ll ever need for my instaworkflow: lens kit, cropping, all 45 filters, light leak options, retrofied frames, customizable HDR and tilt-shift effects. You can experiment with filters and save the preset as a recipe for use the next time. Most of the snapshots I uploaded to Instagram were created with PictureShow. PictureShow is iOS-only for US$1.99.

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These are my top 5 Instagram’ing apps because each provides unique capabilities that are so easy to use and stay true to the “insta” simplicity that made Instagram a hugely popular photo-sharing app, not to mention the social network it built that remain to be strong, with the community of visual storytellers, such as IGersManila Philippines, continuously growing every day.

Cheers to the new year 2013, let’s all keep the good vibes rolling!

Your thoughts?