Best Photo Editing Apps 2018
These days, we all own a smartphone and carry it around with us as if our lives depended on it. The great thing about this, from a photographic perspective at least, is that whenever we happen to chance upon an interesting subject or a special moment, we nearly always have something on hand with which to capture it.
[Best editing apps] If you want to get involved and show off your skills then you’ll need to familiarise yourself with a wide range of apps that can help you to get the best out of your cameraphone snaps. These might be apps that you use to control your camera at the point of capture (as opposed to using the vanilla camera app with which your phone came pre-installed), or they might be apps that you use afterwards as a post-processing tool.
Related: Best cameras
Best photo editing apps – The different options
The range of apps available to mobile photographers is diverse, encompassing everything from apps that turn high-contrast scenes into HDR images, to those that stitch multiple images together to create ultra wide-angle panoramic images. In-between you’ll find portrait-specific apps, landscape-specific apps, time-lapse apps, geotagging apps, library and cataloguing apps, and even apps that can turn people into zombies.
[Best editing apps]
In this roundup you’ll discover a selection of basic apps for general image capture and editing, as well as some more advanced options for those who really want to go to town with their mobile images.
Related: Best smartphones
Instagram1 of 11
More than 40 filter effectsSelective focus toolAvailable for Android and iOSFree to download
When it comes to mobile photography communities and sharing, Instagram is the heavyweight champion of the mobile app world.
It’s essentially a camera and photo-editing app that allows you to take photos, apply digital filters and other image corrections, and then share the results with other Instagrammers.
Since the emphasis is on sharing, it isn’t ideal for lone-wolf photographers, but it’s a great app for social photographers. Its built-in camera is about as basic as you can get – the only control being a flash on/off switch – but, thankfully, you can choose to open images that have been taken with other camera apps before moving into the editing and sharing modules of the software.
With regards to processing, it offers 40 filter effects and a basic range of adjustment tools. There’s also a selective focus tool for creating tilt-shift type images. When it comes to sharing, you can hashtag keywords to your heart’s content and share your images directly to other social media platforms such as Facebook.
Retrica2 of 11
Over 100 filter effectsRandom filter buttonAvailable for Android, iOS and Windows PhoneFree to download
If you have an affinity for images bearing a washed-out, vintage or cross-processed aesthetic, then Retrica could very well be your go-to camera app.
It’s been designed for ease of use and, as such, offers no manual controls over your camera. That said, there are more than 100 filter effects, providing a vast range of hues and effects.
Unlike many other filter-specific apps that allow you to apply the filter at the processing stage, filters can only be applied at the point of capture. You’ll see a live preview of how it will look and if you can’t decide which filter to use then Retrica provides a ‘random filter’ button that you can continue pressing until you see something you like.
The range of filters on offer is very good, with lots of stylish-yet-subtle effects from which to choose. Retrica also provides you with a blurred background effect that you can employ to create selective focus images.
Other than that, camera controls are pretty sparse. Still, as a fun app that provides instant results, Retrica is a great.
EyeEm3 of 11
24 digital filtersOpportunity to sell imagesAvailable for Android, iOS and Windows PhoneFree to download
Launched in 2011, EyeEm was one of the original online cameraphone communities that allowed mobile photography enthusiasts to share their work and browse the work of others, and it currently has more than 13 million members.
While the community aspect is still a big part of the draw, EyeEm has since diversified into stock photography and offers contributors 50% off all the images it sells.
If you like the idea of being able to sell your images then all you need to do is sign up, enter your details and start uploading your mobile images.
The app has no built-in camera of its own, but you can open other camera apps from within it. Alternatively, you can also browse your phone’s image library for any images you want to edit and upload.
EyeEm provides 24 individual digital filters, along with a fairly standard range of image-wide enhancement tools. As with Instagram the tagging system is quite advanced, enabling you to target who is likely to view – and hopefully buy – your photos.
Adobe Photoshop Express /Lightroom4 of 11
Selection of digital filter effectsCompatible with Adobe .DNG raw filesAvailable for Android and iOSFree to download
Adobe currently offers two mobile photography apps: Photoshop Express and Photoshop Lightroom, both of which are very good in their own right.
The main difference between the two is that the former is more of a one-stop fix for mobile photographers, allowing you to import, edit and then share images within the app. The Lightroom mobile app, on the other hand, requires you to own the desktop version of Lightroom to get the full range of functionality from it.
Which one is right for you will depend on your requirements. For many users, the more self-contained Photoshop Express is likely to be the more convenient and useful of the two, while for others the ability to sync their mobile images with their desktop version of Lightroom will prove invaluable.
Either way, both apps offer a wide range of adjustments, along with a good selection of digital filter effects. As you might expect, both apps are also fully compatible with Adobe .DNG raw files created by smartphones too.
Pixlr5 of 11
Supports localised adjustments‘Auto Fix’ featureFree (£1.61 to remove adverts)Available for Android and iOS
Pixlr makes a range of good image-editing apps for mobile and desktop users, along with a couple of browser-based editing tools. While the app is free to download, it does come with adverts. To rid yourself
of these you’ll need to pay £1.61 from within the app.
While Pixlr can be used to control your camera, the controls are extremely limited, so you’ll want to use either your phone’s built-in camera app or a third-party alternative.
Where Pixlr really excels is as an image editor for mobile devices. The user interface is intuitively laid out, making it easy to use. It offers a wide range of editing tools along with brush tools for more localised fixes (including selective focus).
Pixlr also provides a useful one-touch ‘Auto Fix’ feature, plus a variety of digital filter effects that can be stacked to create a unique look. Rounding things off are tools for adding picture frames, stickers and text. You can also make collages of similarly themed photos.
Camera+6 of 11
Provides manual control of key settingsSlow shutter modeFree/£2.29Available for Apple iPhones running iOS 8.0 and higher
Exclusive to Apple iPhone users running iOS 8.0 or higher, Camera+ has long been considered the go-to third-party camera app.
The main reason for this is the way in which it effortlessly combines good levels of control over key camera settings – including manual focus, exposure, shutter speed, ISO and white balance – with advanced image-processing and sharing abilities.
The latest version also offers an image stabiliser to help sharpness, and a ‘Clarity’ tool that acts as a kind of auto-enhance at the point of capture.
Finally, there’s also a slow-shutter mode that can be used to facilitate long-exposure photography on an iPhone.
As well as its extensive image-capture tools, you can also use Camera+ to process your shots using a range of advanced editing tools or one-click digital filters. You can even use the app to sync your images to iCloud – enabling you to view your images on any other connected devices, including iPads.
Camera FV-57 of 11
Supports raw captureCreate time-lapse exposuresFree/£2.49Available for Android only
Designed specifically for photography enthusiasts, Camera FV-5 aims to provide as much manual control over key camera settings as possible.
However, the amount to which it can do so varies between individual Android phones, and the app’s two main headline features – manual shutter speed control and Raw capture – are only compatible with a number of top-end devices. You’ll find a compatibility checklist on the developer’s website.
Once installed, the FV-5 user interface is fairly straightforward to use, and even if you’re unable to take advantage of the headline features, FV-5 still provides direct control over white balance, sensitivity, metering mode – and enables you to take bracketed and time-lapse exposures as well.
You can even use it to re-assign your phone’s volume button to a camera-specific function – for example, lowering/raising the ISO.
While the full version will set you back £2.49, there’s a Lite version available for free, albeit with a vastly reduced maximum resolution.
Google Snapseed8 of 11
Localised adjustment toolsFrames and text optionsFreeAvailable for Android and iOS
Originally designed and released by the same team responsible for the legendary Nik Software range of Photoshop plug-ins (also now free, by the way), Snapseed is now owned by Google.
At its heart, Snapseed is a powerful raw-compatible image-editing app that’s specifically been designed for touchscreen devices. Neatly presented and relatively intuitive to use, Snapseed combines a range of basic ‘one-click’ editing tools and digital filters with a selection of more advanced processing options, including localised adjustment tools that can be used for dodging and burning, or even to add selective focus to your images.
Elsewhere, the app’s generous range of image-wide editing options are controlled via intuitive drag-and-swipe controls that work in harmony with a small touchscreen device. In addition to basic image-processing, the app can also be used to add frames and text to images, capped off with a good range of sharing options.
Fotor9 of 11
Tilt-shift effects13 Scene modesFreeAvailable for Android and iOS
This advanced image-editing app comes with a range of tools that aren’t commonly found on more basic photo apps, including curves adjustments, RGB (Red, Green, Blue) controls, tilt-shift effects and 13 ‘Scene’ modes that will automatically adjust your image to get the best out of it.
You’ll also find a generous range of basic adjustment tools and a huge range of stackable filter effects. You can add frames, text and stickers to your images, or create collages of multiple images.
While Fotor comes with a built-in camera, sadly, manual controls are lacking – although there is the option to employ a stabiliser for sharper images, along with support for burst shooting. More experienced users will probably want to use either their smartphone’s built-in camera app or a more advanced third-party option.
Image sharing to the likes of Facebook and Twitter is provided, with further options to email images also available. Fotor is neatly laid out, making it easy to navigate and operate.
PicsArt Photo Studio10 of 11
Create collagesCurve adjustmentsFreeAvailable for Android, iOS and Windows Phone
This popular all-in-one app allows you to take photos, process images, apply effects, create collages and share your finished creations.
Admittedly, the in-app camera is a bit basic, with no manual controls, but the image processing and effects module is one of the most comprehensive on the market, with advanced features such as curves adjustments, cloning and perspective tools available, alongside all the standard adjustments.
There’s a huge array of digital filter effects, backed up by a generous selection of frames, stickers, masking effects, clip art and more. As with many of the better photography apps, there’s a strong community element to it, too, which allows you to share your images with other PicsArt users, as well as enter competitions.
If you’d prefer to upload your images to social media, then you’ll find sharing links to all the big-name players. The only slight issue we have with PicsArt is that since it tries to do so much, it can take a little time getting used to the layout.
Camera Zoom FX11 of 11
Stabilised stable shot modeSticker packsFree/£2.99Available for Android
Taking its cue from Camera FV-5 (see above) and Manual Camera (another Android photo app), Camera Zoom FX is another raw-capable third-party camera app that offers tons of manual control over your camera, including shutter speed on compatible Android handsets.
In addition, Camera Zoom FX also offers a good range of shooting modes including a stabilised Stable Shot mode, a Best Shot mode, a Time-lapse mode and an HDR mode among others.
The main way in which Camera Zoom FX differs from other serious-minded photography apps such as Camera FV-5 is that in addition to providing access to all the serious things demanded by enthusiasts, it also throws in a bunch of fun stuff in the form of digital filters and sticker packs.
Some of this does need to be paid for, mind. There’s a trial version where you can have a look at the layout and see how you get on, but in order to unlock the best features you’ll need to upgrade to the premium version.