Photo Effects Apps

Overview of  Photo Effects Aps

We have looked at the basic photo editing apps, the ones that help you help you color correct, sharpen and repair images, in another entry. But, there are lots of apps available that can add fun effects to your images. Everything from replicating an old instant polaroid and plastic toy cameras, to pinhole and tintypes, even classic film processes and everything in-between can be achieved via an app.

There are two pretty standard ways of doing this. In camera, where you set the film and lens effects before the shot (i.e Hipstamatic & Kitcam) which are applied when you snap the shutter. The second type are those that will apply an effect to any photo in your library no matter when, or with which camera, it was taken.
Some of these effects cameras apply image ratio constraints. For instance, Hipstamatic and Instagram, which shoot in a square (1×1) format. Some apps are universal and others are only available for the phone. Many of the iPhone apps will run on the iPad if downloaded to it, although there will be some constraints. The app will not fill your iPad screen like those made for the iPad, but you can click on the 2x at the bottom right to expand it.  More often than not if you install and use a non-universal phone app on an iPad you will have to work in portrait mode when editing your images.
Additionally, some of the image processing apps will not save your edited image in the the image’s full as shot resolution. Usually the app’s resolution is based on the highest resolution of the device it was intended to run on. Often times when you see older apps promoting an app with terms like “now fully supports” the newest device, this includes the resolution of the camera on that device.  But always be sure to check out the resolution numbers in the details of the app you are considering.  Also when you download your app, be sure to check the app’s preferences and make sure you are saving your edited images at the highest possible resolution option for your needs.
For posting to the web, email or making small prints, lower resolution is not always a problem and may even be desirable. But, if you plan to print your images lower resolutions could drastically limit print size. Investing in a really good 3rd party desktop up-sampling program might be required to enable you to get the required output size you need.  All these factors are important considerations when choosing your effects apps.

Cameras with effects for image and social networks sites


instagramInstagram is a special breed of photo app. Not only is it a camera with lots of great filter effects, its also a extremely popular on-line photo sharing community. It uses the square format to share your photos and follow your friends’ and other’s photos.
There app is very uncomplicated, take a photo, either from the app camera, which will open inside the app, or use another camera app and import the image from your camera roll. Next crop to square, apply you effects and upload. Next you will write your caption and add tags. Last step is and share your creation to Instagram, and other social image sharing networks, all within the app.
Everything about the app is free no adds and no in-app purchases and there is no fee to share your files on their website and no limit to how many files you share.  There is no way save your finished image to you camera roll from with in the Instagram app. There are other apps at the app store that will enable you to save your files back from the Instagram website. Instagram was purchased by Facebook.
You can also use other effect apps, work on them as you like then use the Instagram app to upload to the Instagram site.
Watch a YouTube Video Overview:
The Creator’s Website: & Blog:

Check it Out at the Apps Store:




hipstamaticThis is a square format only camera app. It is very straight forward, you pick a lens and film, a flash or not and shoot.  Different effects are created with different combinations of lenses and films effects. The app comes with a standard set of effects that offer lots of combinations, but there are in-app purchases that run from 1.00 – 4.00, to expand your creativity. There are also options for purchasing larger collections. You can save your favorite combinations for future use, which is a great feature. You can share with your favorite social networks and to your camera roll.
This app costs 2.00 at the app store
Watch a YouTube Video Overview: There is an intro over view on their website, and you can find more by searching on YouTube.
The Creator’s Website: & their blog is very useful, you’ll find lots ideas and more info:
Check it Out at the Apps Store:

General Camera & Effects Apps




UPDATE: KitCam and PhotoForge have been bought by Yahoo owners of Flickr. These apps are no longer available at the Apple App Store, but they still work if you got them.  Word is that the developer is now working to make a Flickr photo app based on these apps.  Guess we will have to wait and see how that turns out.

KitCam is a very highly rated app and is made by the same creators of PhotoForge (a photo editor). 

This is a camera app, but is compatible with iPad.  You must be running iOS 5 or later, and the app is optimized for the iPhone 5.  In general there is more to this app than originally meets the eye. The interface is very sparse, but there are plenty of options tucked away.  The camera images formats are 4×3, 1×1, 3×2, or 16×9 aspect ratios and all are previewed live.  HD video at 1080p with on an iPhone 5.  You can access your camera roll to edit previously taken images.  That feature is hidden and accessed by pulling down on images screen.
The basic app features 12 of different camera lens effects, 20 film emulation effects including vintage and black & white films, and 20 frames.  There are more available via in-app purchases and if you follow them on Instagram, Tweet about KitCam or join their newsletter, you can get a few free effects.
In addition to all the lenses, film and border effects, the camera feature offers you a number of nice standard camera exposure controls for getting the white balance and lighting just right. You can run in auto mode as well. You will also find a histogram, layout grid overlay, level, timer and stabilizer, multi shot and multi exposer settings, night setting and the option for setting aspect ratio at the time of the shoot.
Some of the super nice features in this app are, all of the effects will stay with the image if cropped to a new aspect ratio after the image has been edited. Edit once and save for various sized output. You even have control over how the image gets placed in cropped area. You have the option to save in JPG or TIFF.  You can save your images to your camera roll, the most popular social sharing spaces and also to which is a great feature. At any point in time you can change the look of a previously taken photo, no matter which camera and film choice you made at the time of the photo.
The app will cost you 1.00 or 2.00 depending if they are running a promotion. In-app purchases run 2.00. You can preview the purchases on your device before buying them in the app.
Watch a YouTube Video Overview: They have a good video overview on their web site.
The Creator’s Website:
Check it Out at the Apps Store:




picfxPicFX is an iPhone app that will run on your iPad.  You will have to work in portrait mode when editing your images.  It is well worth the effort though. While it is promoted as a square format app, you have the option not to crop and edit in the the original image format. There are over 100 effects Texture and Frames that can be mixed and matched to create just the right effect. Effects are grouped by style, i.e. Classics, Vintage, Cross Process, Black & White etc.
There is a slider for controlling how much of the effect is applied to your image the image updates changes instantly. You can even rotate the effect layer. Best of all you can apply more than one effect to your image to create a more complex image. You will find an icon with a plus button to add the layer. You will need to add layers if you want to add additional textures and effects. If you do not, you will undo the previous effect. Each new layer has the slider for controlling the amount of each effect.  There is an minus layer icon as well this will remove the last effect.  All of your EXIF data is preserved as well as GPS location. Images are saved in the original resolution as JPG files to your camera roll.  This app is 2.00 at the app store
The videos on iTunes are old and not up-to-date with the newest version and improvements, (forced cropping & how layers are applied) but you can get a look at the interface from the link below.
Watch a YouTube Video Overview:
The Creator’s Website: Their blog has some nice helpful hints on it from users of the app:
Check it Out at the Apps Store:



  Wood Camera

woodcameraWood Camera has an on board camera with  32 lenses lens effect , including some black and white, 28 textures, 6 frames for thousands of possible combinations, all updated in realtime. Each lens is designed emphasize a different part of the photo’s dynamic range.  When using the camera, you will only shoot with a lens effect, textures and frames area applied after the shot is taken.  Wooden Camera will also allow you to access previously taken photos in your camera roll.  
Once the image is taken there are 5 cropping options, none, freeform, golden, original and square and six controls for controlling the strength of the lens effects. They are, lens intensity, brightness, contrast, sharpen, saturation, hue. The textures have a slider called intensity for adjusting the amount of texture applied to the image.  Nested together are tilt-shift radius and vignette effects that you use pinch gestures to customize position and intensity.  A nice feature is the the tap and hold image to quickly compare your edited and original shot.
You can re-crop your image after the effects have been applied. The effects will rescale to fit the new shape without have to work them. The interface will take you back to the original image then reapply effects at the time of crop. This is non-destructive image editing you can go back and modify any changes you made to the original image, even after exporting your work.  So, if you forget to save a copy of your cropped version, you can always go back and uncrop it to save it in its pre coped state.  All of your effects go back to where they were before the crop.  A very nice feature.
This app is fully optimized for iOS 6 and the larger iPhone 5 display, allowing you to import and export support for full, 8 MP resolution of the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 cameras.   Saves your files to your  Camera Roll, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or Dropbox. Although  Dropbox was not an option available to me when I tire to save it there.  I could save to the Goodreader app and then over to Dropbox, but would be nice if I didn’t have to take that extra step.
The price for this app runs from 1.00 – 2.00 depending if it is on sale.
There is an little overview video on the website. The link to the one at Youtube is for a previous version of the App but it still is a good overview of the interface and how it works.
Watch a YouTube Video Overview:
The Creator’s Website:
Check it Out at the Apps Store:



  Pixlr-o-matic & Pixlr Express Plus

pixlr-o-maticThis family of apps are made by Autodesk. There are two apps and a webpage based image editor. Pixlr-o-matic (playful) & Pixlr Express Plus (efficient) and Pixlr Editor (advanced web based). We will be looking at the Pixlr-o-matic & Pixlr Express Plus apps here.
Both will use images already in your camera roll or taken with camera app. They have a very simple interface with lots of effect options in the icon driven interface and offers the ability to save your favorite (heart) favorite effects. In addition to the same effects as the o-matic version, Express Plus offers basic photo editing tools like redeye reduction, vibrance,sharpen, denoise, blur, auto fix, contrast and adjustments, crop.
There are over 2 million possible effects combinations. To use the apps, you select the effects in a very straight forward process. In the film canister icon you pick your film effect, or not as you choose. Then move on to the light bulb icon, which will add lighting effects, vignettes, bokeh, light leaks, color correction overlays and textures. Then finally you add a frame, these can be straight classic frames or more textured ones that can also add color and grit to your image.  There is a visual update of your image instantly.
Unlike the o-magic version, in Express Plus the effects can be layered and applied over and over allowing you to build up very complex textures on your image. There is slider control for each effect for adjusting the opacity for each effect.
o-matic will save your images in small, med and original sizes. After saving you can even go in and work on it again, or use the crop tool to make it square.  All of the effects you have applied to the image will transfer completely when cropped.  This makes it very handy if you want to process large and then crop a version for your square image needs.  While it says it is designed for both the iPad and iPhone, I find that I must always work in portrait mode on the iPad.
With the Express Plus app, there are various output sizes including custom.  Something that you can not do with the Express Plus app is crop after your effects have been applied.They will not scale, all effect outside the boundary of the cropped area will be removed.
Neither of these apps will not remember camera and GPS data after the image is saved.
The Creators website will let you play with the web versions of the apps as well as other web based editing apps.
Watch a YouTube Video Overview:
The Creator’s Website: & their support page:
Check it Out at the Apps Store: 

You can get the free version and then pay in-app to activate the Plus features, which is more texture overlays, film types and border options.



  Photo Toaster

phototosterPhotoToaster has an on board camera app, but it is a standard camera, no effects are applied live at the time of the shot. However it does allow you to access your camera roll for previously taken images.
There are lots of hidden controls within its clean interface. Icons located at the top and bottom of the window offer access to all the effects. The globe icon offers 60 one click effects for improving, or completely altering a photo. They are set up in groups called basic, deluxe, and supreme, with options such as, Clarify, Cross Process, Bleach Bypass, Sketch, Deep Focus and different film emulations and back and white.
There are 80 one click settings in Lighting, Fx, Vignette, Texture and Border categories. Once the effect is chosen there are 24 slider controls that allow you to control how much of any of the selected effects are applied to your image. These changes are made live and are updated very quickly. You can tweak the exposer, temperature, lighten shadows, recover highlights, adjust the blacks, tint and recover highlights and lots more.  In the wrench icon you will find options for crop, rotate, flip and straighten and the lighting brushes, used for lightening up specific area of your image. The lightening brush will also darken areas as well. You can even save your favorite combinations into a preset that will appear in the global preset options.
There are multiple undos and non-destructive editing and a recent edits list that maintains recently edited photos so you can go back and re-edit them if you’d like. You can edit your images after it has been saved and re-coped, all applied effects and borders will scale to fit new aspect ratios. Images are saved in high resolution, complete with EXIF support.  Files can be saved to your camera roll, and many of the favorite social image sharing website. There is even a build in option to s.end a real postcard with Sincerely.
This app is 2.00 and there is an optional in-app extra border and textures purchase for 1.00.
Watch a YouTube Video Overview: &
The Creator’s Website: & be sure to look for the ebook and pdf manual that can be downloaded from their website.
Check it Out at the Apps Store:



  XnView Photo FX

xnview-photofxXnView Photo FX is a highly rated free app with lots of great options with no watermarks on your images or ads. The interface is clean and simple, once you load your image from the camera roll, most to the editing will take place from the actions button. There are four effects tabs to explore, Image, Color, Effect and Filter.
There are two or three screens of effects to choose from as indicated by the little dots at the bottom of the effects window.  Be sure to scroll over and check them out as well. You also have tools for cropping, rotating, straightening, mirroring.
The effect are bundled in effect types when you click on, a window of options will appear at the bottom of the screen. When you apply an effect that can be modified, the adjustment control button will activate and you can move the slide to adjust the level of the effect. Not all effects can be modified. You can apply multiple effects from each tab to build up your image.
Effects will not scale down if you decide to crop later. Also the app will not keep camera and IPTC data after editing.
Images are saved at full resolution. You can save to you camera roll, clipboard and a list of other apps and send by email, or send them to a limited number of social photo sharing sites. There is not Dropbox support, but GoodReader is one of the apps you can send to. From there you could send to DropBox.
This app is free.
Watch a YouTube Video Overview:
Check it Out at the Apps Store:



  Dramatic BW HD

dynamicbwThis app is made by JixiPix they make large collection of really nice and super fun apps, which are available on mobile devices and desktop systems. This is their black and white photo conversion app. It offers three black and white styles to choose from, Black & White – Classic, Infrared Photo – Modern, Dramatic Black & White – High Definition.  It features a unique elliptical spotlight tool and will allow you to set up multiple light sources (iPad only) on each subject in your composition. Fully customizable controls allow adjustments to contrast, light, texture and shape; and adjustments to the spotlight size intensity.
In addition to the multiple spotlights you will find great black and white filters, grain and vignette effects a fun Randomize Button. You’ll also find Quick Presets and the ability to create Custom Presets, Undo/Redo, Cropping with the ability to specify aspect ratio.  There are no frames or textures other than grain in this app. but there are lots of other apps you can import your image into add those.
Images are saved in high quality and saved to your camera roll. Images can be sent in email and their is the ability to post directly to their photo sharing social sites. They also have an online art gallery and invite our user’s to display their artistic creations on it.
Effects will only partially scale down if you decide to crop later. You will have to readjust your spotlight for the cropped version. The app will not keep camera and IPTC data after editing in this app.
The app for the device is 2.00. There is a separate version for iPad and iPhone.
Watch a YouTube Video Overview:
Check it Out at the Apps Store:



  Vintage Scene HD

vintage-sceneHDVintageScene is a highly rated app and also made by JixiPix. This is app for turning your images into classic old time looking images. There is an in-app camera which takes an traditional photo, that will open in the app, or you can select images from your camera roll. There are lots of preset styles to choose from. It includes hundreds of possible combinations, all update instantly, with the ability to create your own presets for re-use on other images.

Among the presets you’ll find several classic effects like sepia tone, grain, darkened edges, distressed paper, and lots of fades variations.  All preset are fully adjustable, color tints, papers and textures etc. All effect styles, overlays, and borders are easily changed and saved as your own preset.   Images are saved at high resolution, but you will need to check and set this in your settings options. There is also a randomize option, the results are also editable.
Images can be sent in email and their is the ability to post directly to their photo sharing social sites. The effects seem to scale just fine if cropped after applying effects after image has been saved. They also have an online art gallery and invite our user’s to display their artistic creations on it.  The app will not keep camera and IPTC data after editing in this app.
The price for the app is 2.00
The app review is very old, but still gives you a good idea of how the app works. Keep in mind the interface has changed a good deal, there are more preset options and live preview of the effects.
Watch a YouTube Video Overview:
The Creator’s Website: & for this app only
Check it Out at the Apps Store:



  Simply BW

simplybwSimply BW  is a no fuss no muss BW effects app.  Simply select from 6 different colored lens filters to enhance certain colors and shades in a photo. You can adjust the brightness and contrast of the image, choose from white or black border options or have none at all.

You can add some simulated film grain and black or white vignetting.
This app will preserve the EXIF data but you must be running iOS 4.1 or later. Image size up to 3264×3264 as well as a slight border (if desired).  This app supports PhotoAppLink, which allows you to easily send or receive photos with Simply B&W to or from other compatible apps. Which makes is easy to continue working on the image in other apps. This is a nice feature. If you own an app it can push the image to it will show up in the save to window.  There is also a list of apps that it can jump to in the apps store.
See for more details.
This is a free app.
Note that their website seems to be promoting their other products and I can not find a link to Simply BW
Watch a YouTube Video Overview:
The Creator’s Website:
Check it Out at the Apps Store:



  ScratchCam FX

scratchcamfxScratchCam is a very well rated app. It offers tons of combinations of textures and colour effects to give your images some fun distressed looks. Effects can be blended and also a randomizer if you just want to get started fast and then tweak.  You’ll find plenty of scratched & damaged film effects, options for vintage black & whites, loads of dirty grunge and paper effects, color shifts and combos and a good range of subtle to extreme textures.  All effects have a slider for adjusting the amount of strength applied for each effect.

You have the ability to save your favorite combos as presets to apply on future images. Hi-res support (up to 8mp). The app will keep camera and IPTC data after editing in this app. If you send it to another app you could lose the data in the process, depending on the app.
The app is 2.00 at the app store
Watch a YouTube Video Overview:
The Creator’s Website: & their blog :



  1. Thank you for sharing IPAD apps. I use the PicFX app. which is suitable for me 🙂

    thank you

    Ariful I Evan

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