VSCO, which stands for Visual Supply Co., built filters and presets for Adobe Lightroom and Apple Aperture before it developed its app. The filters emulate film stocks and are sold in packs. VSCO is without a doubt the only company coming close to replicating the look of film in a photo app without making it look gimmicky.
The VSCO camera mode has a toolbar at the top of the screen that lets you toggle the flash, change the display into lines of thirds, a grid, a horizon level or absolutely nothing. Camera mode also allows to lock the white balance, as well as choose a mode that takes photos by tapping the screen instead of the shutter release.
For a camera app, VSCO hosts a rather robust assortment of editing tools. There are 15 editing tools in all, which can adjust the photo’s exposure level, colour temperature, contrast, saturation, cropping, sharpening as well as adding grain and changing the tints of shadows and highlights.
VSCO also offers a range of camera filters referred to as ‘Presets’ that offer a more authentic experience of photo editing. The creators want mobile phone photographers to focus on the composition, the lighting and the subject matter of the photos they are taking as what is interesting, instead of if there are 10 different layers and streaks of light leaking in. With this in mind, VSCO takes film stocks that professional photographers still widely used, for example Kodak Porta, and replicates its tones and colour rendition perfectly. The image is matched accurately with its filter, without losing its dynamic range to over-editing. It is the goal of VSCO to make images look real.
Like many other photo apps, VSCO maintains its own camera roll. It is possible to automatically add photos taken with VSCO to your camera roll or keep them separate, and later add in one by one to the VSCO for more intensive editing.
The app can share images across social media platforms including Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. However, VSCO desperately wants users to submit their images to the app’s central sharing feature, which is an online photo gallery called The Grid. The Grid showcases some gorgeous photography, but it is also curated, which means there is no room to Like, promote or comment on any image.
If you are looking for an alternative to Instagram and would like to produce
more film-inspired images for your personal portfolio, VSCO is definitely for you. More information for VSCO can be found at vsco.co.
Amy Bensema is a long-term Phuket expat with a keen interest in social media and tech. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out her photos out on Instagram @phuketstagram.