VSCO Cam is a feature-packed camera app for iOS that allows you to take high quality pictures and edit photos.
What's so special about VSCO Cam?
VSCO Cam offers top notch photo processing technology, and arms you with a bevy of editing functions and filters to help you get the most from your photos.
The camera function performs very well. In all cases the raw images captured with VSCO Cam looked good. Colors were vivid, images were sharp, whites were well balanced, and auto-exposure worked well.
One 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 (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. 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.
There's also a rather half-baked Grid section, showcasing the talents of VSCO users around the world through a stream of the top photographs taken or processed with the app. It's a curated section without any kind of categorization, organization, or interaction, and there's no way of knowing how the selection process works.
Hit and miss user experience
There's no question that VSCO Cam for iOS 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 due to its too-cool-for-school interface 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.
Not the full package
VSCO Cam is an interesting alternative to the default iPhone 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, and it's social functions aren't a patch on Instagram's.
The latest major update to VSCO Cam means that iPad users can now fully enjoy VSCO Cam thanks to a redesign of the app's interface designed for Apple tablets.
Other changes introduced in the VSCO Cam 4.0 include a Journal that allows you to publish long-form content through the app, sync functionality for shooting and editing across devices, and an enhanced search that allows you to explore by photos, Journal, and people.