If you had to guess what the most popular branded hashtag on Instagram was, what would you say? Nike? Maybe Starbucks? Or, like, One Direction?
All fine guesses. But the answer is actually “VSCOcam,” the hashtag appended to photos edited in the app of the same name. #vscocam has been tacked onto 50 million Instagram posts and climbing. (#Nike and #Disney occupy the No. 2 and No. 3 spots, respectively. And as for the fourth spot? It’s #vsco.)
Since launching in 2012 as a free app for the iPhone, VSCO Cam—which synthesizes the look and feel of old-school 35mm and medium format film—has won over a loyal following of photographers, designers, and other creatives looking to do more visually with their iPhones and Androids. And now it’s growing up.
Today, Visual Supply Company is taking the wraps off VSCO Cam 4.0 for iOS. It’s a significant upgrade that hints at where the Oakland-based company is headed. There are dozens of cool and intricate little updates to the app’s toolset for you to play around with, but here’s the major stuff you should know about.
VSCO for iPad
While the iOS app worked just fine, VSCO is rolling out 4.0 with a dedicated iPad app, which takes advantage of the tablet’s extra real estate. Now, for example, you’ll be able to look at multiple filters side-by-side before selecting one that fits your style. (Personal favorite: HB2.) There is also going to be a history panel a la Photoshop, so you can toggle edits if you suddenly decide to go another creative direction.
One feature VSCO Cam isn’t getting with this update, unfortunately, is batch editing. When I asked about this, cofounders Joel Flory and Greg Lutze smiled and said it’s actually one of their “most requested features.”
Manual Focus and Shutter Speed Controls
Want to take a long-exposure of a highway overpass to get streaky car lights? Or maybe you just want a little motion blur in your action shot. Now if you’re using the app to actually take your photos, you’ll be given new controls that mimic the capabilities of a real-life SLR.
When VSCO launched its Grid social network a few months ago, Flory described it to me as a meticulously curated version of Instagram, “a museum, where you’ll only share your best [work].” The goal was to make it easy for photographers to discover one another and to publicly display their photos. A new feature called VSCO Journal launching today operates under a similar premise by allowing users to build their own standalone pages with photos and texts.
It looks—and sounds—a bit like Storehouse.
Web Upload and Sync
Now if you make a VSCO account, you’ll be able to sync the photos you upload across multiple devices: iPhone, iPad, and Android. This is now supplemented by the ability to upload photos via the web, which makes it easy to, say, import your DSLR photos to the cloud so that you can edit them (and upload them) via VSCO Cam.
VSCO already makes a suite of film packs for Adobe Lightroom. But now it looks like it’s starting to lay the groundwork so that more serious photographers—or at least folks who use cameras that aren’t their phones—might soon be able to skip the middle man altogether.