Instagram gull

Instagram's filters can turn your shots into moodier versions of the original (to some photo purists' horror)...but they're not your only option for effects like this.

100 Cameras on the sea

App 100 Cameras in 1 has filters with a similar Lomography feel to Instagram, but many, many more of them. While the interface is super-clean, the filters are poetically named... this one is "A glowing ember, lurking about."

100 Cameras being warm

...and this 100 Cameras filter is called "The warm hand in the right spot."

Camera Awesome goddess

Camera Awesome is a weird mix of light-heartedness and some serious image processing power. This special effect is called "Goddess."

More Awesome Cowbell

... and this Camera Awesome special effect is called "More Cowbell." Hear that, Christopher Walken?

Hipstamatic Old Style

Hipstamatic tries to recreate the effect of old-school film cameras, with interchangeable lenses, film, and so on. Here's a random setting (chosen by shaking the phone) that includes a faux frame.

Hipstamatic Lomo

...and this random mix of filters shows how the Hipstamatic app was influenced by Lomography.

Camera Fun, Poster-Sized

The Camera Fun app is a lot sillier than some of its peers, as you can tell from this pic with the "Poster" filter applied and a cheesy faux-film roll frame.

Hot Camera Fun

The Camera Fun app is a lot sillier than some of its peers, as you can tell from this pic with the "Poster" filter applied and a cheesy faux-film roll frame.

Twittery Gritty

The Camera Fun app is a lot sillier than some of its peers, as you can tell from this pic with the "Poster" filter applied and a cheesy faux-film roll frame.

Cool As A Twitterer

The Camera Fun app is a lot sillier than some of its peers, as you can tell from this pic with the "Poster" filter applied and a cheesy faux-film roll frame.

5 Instagram Alternatives

Not happy with the new, controversial changes taking shape over at Facebook's photo-sharing service? Consider these other filtering app masters.

Add your recommendations for Instagram-alternative apps in the comments section below!

Instagram is embroiled in more than a little controversy at the moment. The mess has stirred up some serious user anger as it seems to let Instagram (or, more properly, its new imperial overlord Facebook) sell your photos for its own profit.

So where else can a privacy-wanting, photo-loving smartphone owner turn for the same kind of filter effect imagery? Glad you asked.

Hipstamatic. Some smartphone camera fans were using Hipstamatic before Instagram had barely added a glowing halo to a single pic. With an initial bent on recreating effects from the low tech wet chemistry Lomo camera craze, Hipstamatic has an interface that lets you apply many more different effects than Instagram does--including tinkering with each effect by swapping the virtual camera's "lens," "flash," and even film. As a bonus, the interface lets you share your square, filter-effected photos via Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and even Instagram. ($1 on iPhone)

Camera Awesome. Camera Awesome is much more playful than Instagram or Hipstamatic, but beneath it's cheeky style (you don't "filter" photos, so much as select how much you want to "awesomize" them) there are great built-in tips for taking good photos. Plus it offers precise control over the effects (some of which you have to buy)--though this means it takes a little longer to use it. On the plus side: It shares to more networks than Hipstagram, (free on iOS)

Camera Fun. Perhaps the simplest app on this list, Camera Fun is also all about photo filters that are much crazier than what Instagram offers--including weird options like night vision mode. ($1 for iPhone and Android)

100 Cameras in 1. With a very attractive interface, 100 Cameras in 1 might be a photographer's favorite--and its quick-search array of filters (each with a nice sentence describing what it does) makes for swift photo snapping. You can even layer effects one atop each other to go totally filter crazy. ($2 on iOS)

Twitter. Let's be honest--much of Instagram's attraction was in its swift interface and the social sharing angle, which led to warm, cozy feelings when someone "liked" one of your photos. Twitter's now building in photo filters and it's already a hugely popular social net. So sure, its filters aren't necessarily awesome right now (and, no, they cannot "awesomize"), but for many folks it may be worth simply using Twitter instead of leaping into another app. (free on iOS, Android)

[Slide-show images: Kit Eaton]

Chat about this news with Kit Eaton on Twitter and Fast Company too.

Add your recommendations for Instagram-alternative apps in the comments section below!

Add New Comment

29 Comments

  • Wagi

    There's a gat. Nw App called JustSeen which is built on simplicity. It's only 4 weeks old but looks great and they apparently have big plans in the pipeline. Check out www.justseen.com

  • Thiago Valenti

    Really? It's not about the filters, it's about your friends/acquaintances using the same product. What's the point of shouting to no one?

  • wraptinweb

    Snapseed gets my vote as a Google property, and works well on Android and iOS (includes export to iPhoto) plus a browser interface. Excellent Twitter linkup, although Twitter have their own app they are trying to get out the door. Not just restricted to the old square format, and good import for photos from file.

  • Matt Bartelsian

    PicsArt.  It's the #1 photo app on Android (and according the company about to launch on iPhone).  It's massively full-featured, has it's own social network, enables sharing with other social networks, and is free.

  • nihir

    The best option I've found is Pixlr-O-Matic.  It's free, has a huge library of filters, and allows you to share your picture at whatever resolution you want.

    I think it's Android & iOS only at the moment.

  • Rob LaRosa

    How about Flickr? They just re-released their iOS app and it kills. Their Groups have as much social interaction and anyone could want.

  • Juan Madrigal

    Oh, Instagram couldn't have picked the worst moment in history to do what they're doing. 
    Flickr has now revamp they site, apps and conditions, you can still go free or go pro; I'm ok with that and It's more than another mobile photo-sharing competitor. As a photographer, I just opted out because Instagram goes against my copyrights and they are being evil and greedy. 

    Bye-bye Instagram, hello flickr!

  • cbajgier

    Exactly. Don't they read the news? Yahoo, Google, and Twitter all have Instagram in their crosshairs and they've all made major competitive strikes in the past month (revamped Flickr, a now-free Snapseed with G+ integration, and Aviary-powered filters for Twitter).

  • synchroma_com

    The Goldrun app really takes photo app's that one step further, where you can create and share photos WITH virtual content. @GoldRun:twitter 

  • kkartphoto

    Everybody is missing the best alternative. Streamzoo!
    Streamzoo, the absolute perfect Instagram replacement, even down to the community. Just sayin'. Check it out, I was impressed this AM when I tested it. It's on iOS and Android.

  • Dave Stewart

    I use Picfx and Snapspeed, and then post to twitter. Community, check. Cool filters, check. Easy interface, check. Bye, instagram

  • Alana

    These aren't really alternatives to the Instagram community, these are just alternative apps for applying effects to your pictures. I would recommend the new Flickr app as you can edit your photos and be part of a community.

  • Isaiah Duty

    check out Starmatic, they're pretty great. They have an easy instagram import and strong social features.