There are many mobile photo editing apps available, but choosing one can be a difficult task. For a long time I’ve been a fan of Snapseed, a free photo editing tool that was bought by Google in late 2012.
At GT, we’ve covered Snapseed in great detail over the years and highly recommend it.
Another app that caught my eye is VSCO, a favorite of both professional photographers and regular selfie shooters. VSCO offers powerful photo editing tools that make it a worthy Snapseed contender.
I’m curious how these two amazing photo editing apps perform and how they differ.
Snapseed caught everyone’s attention the moment it launched because it offered powerful editing tools in a simple and uncluttered user interface. You will see nothing except a large mark in the center. You can tap anywhere on the screen to open the Gallery app.
After selecting a photo, options such as filters and tools will appear. Snapseed has 29 tools under the belt. All are neatly available on a single screen.
VSCO is not just a photo editor. No sir. It is much more than that. A social media platform is built in for beginners and professional photographers to share their work and experience. Just like Instagram, you can view daily updates from the people you follow. The third tab is called Studio where you can select and edit images.
VSCO will help you connect with other users and learn from them as you show off your photo editing skills.
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Both Snapseed and VSCO are powerful photo editing apps, and talking about filters would be like scratching the surface.
While Snapseed has some excellent filters, VSCO takes them to a different level. In VSCO, you can control the intensity of each individual filter which gives you more insight into the final look of the image.
Snapseed has no such option and offers regular filters that you can simply select and apply. VSCO also has more filters to choose from, but that doesn’t mean Snapseed’s filters are worse. They are just different.
Android or iOS
Both Snapseed and VSCO support double exposure and RAW editing capabilities. However, VSCO leaves Android out of the mix for some reason. Indeed, some features are missing on the Android platform while they are all available on iOS.
Snapseed offers all 29 tools on both platforms, including double exposure and RAW image editing support. The latter is limited to the DNG format only while iOS supports far more DSLRs. Therefore, the choice of the preferred photo editing app will also depend on the mobile operating system in use.
For the uninitiated, double exposure is a technique in which a single image, usually a close-up of a person’s face, is exposed two or more times with different images to create overlay effects.
RAW is a popular image format that is mainly used by digital SLRs. This means you can edit RAW images directly in Snapseed and VSCO (iOS) albeit in DNG format.
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As both are advanced photo editing apps, overlaps are inevitable and some tools are available on Android and iOS. What matters is how these tools differ from each other.
Take Snapseed’s Perspective tool. You can use it to change the angle of the subject within the frame and give the impression that the image was shot from a different angle.
VSCO also has this feature but it calls it Crop + Straighten which you will find in the Adjust menu. However, Snapseed will also allow you to resize the image freely in all four directions.
Other common photo editing tools include blur, rotate, crop, and portrait modes.
Some advanced filters available on Snapseed and VSCO are Grainy, Vignette, and Noir. VSCO calls the latest Filmy and its effects look similar.
While Snapseed allowed me to add text to any image with the touch of a button, it was missing a similar option in VSCO. You can also change the font size, type and color.
Whereas Snapseed allows you to apply the Blur effect to bring the subject into greater focus, VSCO allows you to use the Fade effect to give the subject a translucent look.
VSCO will also allow you to create and save recipes. What is that? Recipes is a set of effects (filters and settings) that you can save as a preset and apply later with the touch of a button. For example, you regularly crop your images and use a particular filter on all your photos. You can save it as a recipe and that way, you won’t have to do it again manually.
Snapseed has an HDR tool to reproduce more detail by adjusting the dynamic range in the lightest and darkest areas of the image. The effect is mesmerizing and dreamlike in which the details are selectively highlighted. Unfortunately, VSCO doesn’t have this tool, so you’ll have to rely on filters.
In VSCO, the exposure and saturation are offered separately and were somewhat limited in my opinion. Snapseed provides the Brush tool where you can control temperature, saturation and exposure under one roof. The Dodge and Burn option will allow you to selectively highlight or darken parts of the image.
VSCO comes with HSL (hue, saturation, light) which will allow you to manipulate six different hue levels while being limited to the professional account. Snapseed, on the other hand, is missing on HSL but under the Curves tool, you’ll find an RGB matrix that lets you enjoy similar control. Maybe a future update will fix it.
VSCO also appears to have far more filters available than Snapseed, but most of them are limited to the professional account. Snapseed is completely free and contains no ads. VSCO takes a freemium approach where advanced filters are hidden behind a paywall that will cost you $ 19.99 / year.
VSCO vs. Snapseed: two sides of the same coin
VSCO and Snapseed are powerfully equipped and have some amazing image editing tools. Whether you’re a budding photographer or an amateur, I’d recommend Snapseed. Because? Because it is free to use.
VSCO is paid but offers multiple filters and a whole community of like-minded users. More suitable for people willing to pay the subscription amount.
In that sense, these two photo editing apps complement each other. So you can have both on your phones.
Next: We discussed how VSCO for Android differs from that for iOS. Click the link below to find out our version of the VSCO app for iOS.
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