Instagram is becoming more popular than ever. Whether you’re a vlogger-influencer or a woodworking hobbyist, a small bakery or a large tech corporation, a celebrity or an amateur photographer, it is an excellent platform to showcase your brand and your work. To succeed on Instagram, however, you need a carefully curated feed of beautiful photos.
Thankfully, mobile photography apps have evolved to make post-processing much easier. After taking photos on your smartphone or professional camera with built-in WiFi functionality, you can now edit your shots using mobile apps without ever having to use a complicated desktop software.
Two of the most popular photo editing apps on both iOS and Android are VSCO and Adobe Lightroom. How do they stack up against each other in terms of basic adjustments, cropping & skewing, and presets? Which one is better for editing your Instagram photos? Let’s find out.
Both VSCO and Adobe Lightroom are free for both iOS and Android users. They do have paid subscriptions that lets you access premium features, but for this article we will tackle the features on the free versions of both apps.
Like most photo editors, both VSCO and Adobe Lightroom have the basic editing tools covered. They are on pretty much equal footing with when it comes to allowing user adjustments on exposure, contrast, sharpness, saturation, and white balance. Lightroom does have more advanced options compared to VSCO on color adjustments.
Lightroom’s biggest edge over VSCO when it comes to adjustments is the Curve feature. This curve lets you change the levels of your photo’s shadows, highlights, and mid-tones in a single panel. Even just a little adjustment can go a long way if you want a punch to your image.
Both VSCO and Lightroom offers basic cropping functionalities (as does your smartphone’s default Camera app or gallery). They both let you set a custom ratio, as well as offer a variety of common image ratios to choose from.
Lightroom’s straightening feature has a slight upper hand over VSCO’s, though. It shows you the degree by which you’ve adjusted your photo’s angle, unlike VSCO.
However, VSCO provides more value to free users with its skew functionality. You can adjust the perspective of your image’s x and y axes on the free version of VSCO, while Lightroom requires the paid version to access their ‘geometry’ function.
Possibly the biggest advantage of VSCO over Lightroom is its array of distinct presets or filters. VSCO comes with 10 presets by default (although you can purchase other presets separately), and they regularly feature presets that can be downloaded for free. If you’re looking to add flavor to your Instagram photos, you should definitely consider VSCO filters.
Lightroom, on the other hand, offers only 5 basic presets. One added benefit of Lightroom for those who like to DIY is that they let users make as many presets as they want (VSCO only lets free users create one ‘recipe’, as they call it).
Based on the categories of adjustments, cropping, and presets, VSCO takes the cake. But does that really make VSCO a better overall tool than Lightroom? Not really, because it ultimately depends on the user. Lightroom’s more advanced editing tools might be what you’re looking for. On the other hand, if you prefer simplicity and ease of use, then VSCO might be better for you. Moreover, who says you can’t use both apps to put out that perfect Instagram post?
For the users of Instagram, however, VSCO is definitely the winner. There’s a reason the tag #vscocam has over 200 million posts on Instagram (fun fact: VSCO used to be called VSCO Cam). The 12 million posts tagged under #lightroom pales in comparison.
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