Finding the best VSCO Instagram filters can transform your Instagram feed which is why they are one of the most popular filter options for the social media platform. When Instagram was first created, it was all about its own cool, retro filters but since the network started to focus more on the social media aspects, that side of the platform has been largely overlooked.
The gap left has been filled by third-party app VSCO (previously known as VSCO Cam). VSCO provides a range of expressive filters which you can apply to imported photos and also use to take photos within the app itself. Some are free forever, some free for a limited time, and there are more than 100 others available as a paid-for option, as part of a yearly subscription.
If you want to make your feed even more unique, take a look at our guide to how to change the font in your instagram bio. We've also got a handy rundown of the best photo editing apps, if you want some other options.
- Take a look at our roundup of the best Instagram design feeds
On the whole, VSCO’s filters give your images a subtle, filmic look that, when used thoughtfully, can raise them above the norm and add a real touch of sophistication. You can also, if you wish, tweak things further with the app’s own toolkit, which allows finer adjustments to fade, clarity, skin tone, tint, sharpen, saturation, contrast, temperature, exposure and much more.
Rachel Etheredge, a strategist at Creative Parc, is among the app's fans. “I wouldn’t use it for curated design work on my business feed, of course,” she notes. “But I love it for my personal Instagram.”
“I pay for all the filters through the annual membership,” she explains. “I start with one, and tweak and edit it with the photo editing tools until I get where I like. You can also copy the effect you create onto any other photo, so you don’t have to remember all your tweaks.”
Sharing on Instagram
VSCO’s makers would, of course, like you to share your newly edited images among its global community within the app, and many do. But there’s nothing to stop you sharing them to Instagram too, or instead, and a quick search for #vsco or #vscocam will show you how tens of millions are doing just that.
VSCO offers many more filters than Instagram, so you stand a better chance of finding one that will help your image stand out. But with hundreds to choose from, that can be a time-consuming business, so it’s good to have a few trusty go-tos to start out with. Here are 10 of our favourites.
VSCO label S2 as bright and clean, and it doesn't disappoint. It gives a light finish that feels classic and fresh all at once.
Jacey Duprie, lifestyle blogger, reveals how she uses S2 to edit her Instagram feed in this photo editing tutorial.
Created in collaboration with men's fashion and streetwear brand Hypebeast, HB1 gives an dramatic, gritty look to photos shot on city streets. In essence, you can use it to turn quite a banal scene into an urban hip hop video, as demonstrated above by Angel Wu.
Chris Biss, a designer at MoreNiche in Nottingham is also a big fan. He explains, "I tend to use my main Instagram feed for design stuff but I post photos to my Instagram stories for which I'll usually use HB1, HB2 [the sibling filter to HB1] or Nike's ACG filter," he explains.
P5 makes everything feel a little more edgy, a bit cooler and more atmospheric, like the light before a thunderstorm. It's a great filter for when you want to add a little grunge and grit to your image. You can also add scratches and grain to the image using this filter, to really amp up the atmosphere.
Instagram account Tasteabruzzo celebrates all things from Abruzzo (a southern region in Italy). It's used P5 to create some extra drama in this wonderful rustic beach scene.
VSCO says the A6 filter is their most popular preset, and we can see why. It gives a beautifully clean brightness whilst adding warmth to the richer tones. Jenny Wu has used it in this wedding photo to make colours more vibrant, whilst lifting them. We wish the world outside the window looked like this.
05. Dog 1, Dog 2 and Dog 3
Whether you loathed or loved Wes Anderson's Isle of Dogs, you have to agree it had a very distinctive look. So it's great that the film makers have teamed up with VSCO to create three filters that allow you to give your own images the same look: Dog 1, Dog 2 and Dog 3. The first emphasises neutrals and mutes vibrant colours to give your images a, elegant, serene and classic look.
Dog 2 was inspired by the scene in the movie where student Tracey Walker calls on her classmates to take action. It boosts yellow hues and brightens your image. The effect is pretty full-on but when used in the right way it can certainly make your photos look distinctive.
The third has purple-pink neon hues and is inspired by a lab in Megasaki City, perfect for early evening light as shown above.
C1 is part of the Vibrant Classic series of presets (C1-C3) that’s intended for a variety of scenarios and uses. It gives your images a colourful, vibrant look that works really well on subjects like flowers, nature and beach scenes.
Desaturated and understated, the Mellow Fade F Series preset pack (F1-F3) aim to replicate the feel of analogue film stock. We especially love F2, an understated matte filter that’s great for enhancing tone, and a great way to bring to life intimate, everyday moments.
The second pack in the M Series (M4-M6) revives the vintage look of photo albums from the 1970s beautifully. Our favourite is F5, with a mellow, desaturated look that give a retro feel to both urban and rural environments, and works well with portrait shots too.
Another set of presets inspired by analogue film, the Aesthetic Series (A4-A6) is characterised by natural tones, subtle colour shifts and slight dimming. We love A4, which can be a great way to enhance interior photography, as shown here by freelance content and social marketer Nikki McCaig. It also works beautifully for food photography.
The Portraits G Series (G1-G3) is aimed at enhancing your portraits by flattering skin tones. But we’ve found that G3 can sharpen the colours and vibrancy of still-life scenes, too. It’s an altogether different, slightly surreal twist on reality that doesn’t always work; but when it does, it can completely transform a shot.
A list of VSCO filters wouldn’t be complete without a monochrome preset. Black & White Classic B Series (B1-B3) is a great way to turn your shots black and white in a subtle way that doesn’t just blindly remove colour but evokes a true vintage feel. B1 is our normal go-to, with excellent shadow detail and contrast that brings out little details that other filters might have dulled down. This stunning shot was taken by Mustafa Bastaki .