VSCO Cam is a feature-packed camera app for Android that allows you to take high quality pictures and edit photos.
How is VSCO Cam different from the Android camera app?
The default camera application that comes pre-loaded with Android, especially after version 4.3 of the OS, is robust enough to take good pictures. However, VSCO Cam brings superior photo processing technology, and arms you with a bevy of editing functions and filters to help you get the most from your photos.
Testing on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus we replicated several shots using the default settings of VSCO Cam and the Android camera app. In all cases the raw images captured with VSCO Cam looked better. For example, colors were more vivid, images were sharper, whites were better balanced, and images were better exposed.
An even better argument for favoring VSCO Cam over the native camera app is its wealth of presets and editing tools. Presets allow you to apply filters to your images, in the same way as you can with apps like Instagram, for example. Presets can be fine-tuned using a precision slider, so you can achieve exactly the right mood and tone. There are 10 presets included with VSCO Cam and you can purchase new ones via the in-app store.
The range of photo editing tools in VSCO Cam is as good as any you'll see in a free photo app for Android (including Photoshop Express). There are settings for exposure, temperature, contrast, saturation, tint, shadows, and much more, which can all be set easily via a slider. There's also a smart crop tool with preset aspect ratios, and a rotate tool.
VSCO Cam also has great photo sharing features. There are options for sharing your pictures instantly via Instagram, Facebook, email, or Twitter, and clicking the 'More' option will bring up all the compatible apps installed on your device that can be used share the image (messaging and chat apps, for example).
The app also gives you access to the VSCO Journal, where you can get tips and check out inspirational photography taken by others.
Hit and miss user experience
There's no question that VSCO Cam for Android is a gorgeous looking app. The minimalist, industrial-style design is stylish and attractive, even if it encroaches on the photography itself at times (the viewfinder window isn't full screen, for example).
At first, VSCO Cam is quite awkward to navigate, largely since the interface differs wildly from conventional Android design. There's no introductory tutorial to show you how to get started, which would be helpful since many interface icons are not well labeled. Also, navigating backwards through the app is infuriating since the back hardware key always takes you out of the app completely.
The VSCO Cam interface does get some things right though, particularly when it comes to editing. The use of sliders makes tweaking very clean and simple, and you can hold down an edited image to see its original state, which is handy.
We'd expect to see some improvements to VSCO Cam in future updates. At present the app won't switch to landscape mode when editing, we experienced frequent crashes, and the loading speed of the app is much slower than the Android camera app. Another annoying aspect of VSCO Cam is that images need to be saved manually to your Gallery, rather than automatically appearing on your SD card.
VSCO Cam is an excellent alternative to the default Android camera app. It takes great pictures, has lots of editing tools, and looks fantastic. That said, it's in need of some improvements to make it more practical and easier to use.