Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.
Instagram filters are a great way to make your photos stand out, but they’re far from the best tool. In fact, photo-editing apps can do a better job at really making your pictures pop.
From the level of control to the variety of filters available, in this article we discuss six reasons you should use photo-editing apps over Instagram filters.
1. Apps Have a Better Filter Variety
Many of Instagram’s filters make the difference between a stand-out image and just another snap. In fact, Instagram’s filters are somewhat of a signature for the app. But at the same time, many of them are much of the same and don’t offer anything new.
On the other hand, photo-editing apps tend to have a greater variety of filters. In fact, certain apps dedicate themselves specifically to filters or certain effects. As of June 2018, Instagram had one billion users—and all one billion of these users have access to the exact same 40 filters.
But with apps, you can mix it up with which new, regularly-updated, and varied filters. Apps such as Adobe Photoshop Express have a range of unique filters that change up the coloring of images and provide a unique twist on run-of-the-mill filters.
2. Apps Have Selective Editing
While Instagram has some useful editing features, these tools change an entire image and don’t let you focus on specific areas of the picture. But an image is the sum of its parts—and many times certain parts require more editing than others.
This is especially true when it comes to photos taken on challenging lighting conditions that result in overexposure or underexposure in certain areas. The selective and brush editing tools available in apps like Snapseed are perfect for dealing with this. You can edit the exposure, saturation, or other features of specific parts in your picture.
This kind of editing can be the saving grace for images, especially ones that look washed out. Unfortunately, Instagram does not have these nuanced editing tools.
3. Apps Have More Advanced Focal Effects
Instagram has a portrait/bokeh effect mode in the app’s selfie filters, but it’s limited to use with faces. If you want to apply a background blur to other objects, such as a flower or pet, you’re going to need to use another app.
Aperture effects and background blur are an especially popular trend among smartphone photographers, now that often come with dual cameras and powerful image-editing AI. Even Android users can use a portrait mode or blurred background effect without a dual camera, using apps instead.
Instagram hasn’t taken full advantage of this trend, which means users without dual cameras can’t have a blurred background on a non-human subject if they rely solely on the app. But if you use a photo-editing app, you can take full advantage of the trend and turn your pictures into something special. Apps such as After Focus are perfect for this.
4. Instagram Lacks Other Advanced Editing Effects
Instagram is the most popular photography-based social network by far, but this is partly because it caters to amateurs and professionals alike. This means that its tools are meant to be user-friendly and easy to figure out for beginners.
As a result, there’s a trade-off with more advanced editing features that professionals and advanced users enjoy. Instagram lacks effects such as double exposure, applying selective color to black and white photos, multi-image blending, and other features for more advanced photo editors.
Instead, apps that cater to these more advanced users are the best place to find these effects. LightX and similar apps are a good choice for people looking to use more advanced effects.
They are not as user-friendly as Instagram. You will have to take a few moments to acquaint yourself with the different features. Despite this, they are easy enough for beginners to use and give you access to a bunch of interesting edits for your photos.
5. The Pros Are Using Editing Software
The people who use Instagram to promote their photography business or become influencers don’t just get their magnificent shots by solely using expensive equipment. In fact, there’s a significant amount of editing that goes into their work.
Many of these professionals rely on PC-based image editing software to perfect their images. But this software is often out of the budget of most casual photographers.
Luckily, many image-editing apps have powerful features that are available for free. Since you’re sharing the platform with professionals who have both powerful hardware and software on their side, using some editing apps can help give you a fighting chance to get noticed.
No, you’re not likely to achieve the same level of refinement as professional software, but Instagram’s filters are definitely not equipped to help you compete with advanced photographers. You could also improve your photos without filters just by following certain photographic techniques to help you get an edge.
6. Apps Boast Better Beautifying Effects
Instagram has selfie filters similar to Snapchat, but it lacks the same beautifying effects seen in other apps. If your profile includes a lot of selfies or modeling images, and putting your best foot forward is important for your profile, the beautifying effects in photo-editing apps are incredibly helpful.
They minimize the amount of preparation needed, especially for people involved in fashion and lifestyle work. Rather than need to hide every blemish and make sure your makeup is perfect, you can rely on apps to help out.
Unfortunately, Instagram does not have these effects built into its filters in any significant way. This means that if your photos require you to look blemish-free, you’ll have to do more real-life preparation. Apps like AirBrush, however, will make sure that you don’t have to waste time trying to get a flattering snap.
The Best Photo-Editing Apps Can Transform Your Work
There’s no doubt that photo-editing apps can really enhance your images. But how do you choose the best one when there are so many flooding the market?
We have a handy guide on the best photo-editing apps for Android. From the app with the best filters, the best overall app, and the app that’s best for more experienced users, we’ve tried and tested the cream of the crop to save you the trouble.