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The Perfect 10

Know how to ace mobile photography with these simple editing tools and filters.
twitter-logoNidhi Singal | Print Edition: May 21, 2017
The Perfect 10

Going by the number of sensational pictures posted on social media networks today, it appears that everyone is a photographer, and a good one at that. Producing flawless, frame-worthy pictures is no longer the privilege of SLR camera owners alone. Although clicking outstanding pictures requires expertise, a decent smartphone camera and editing apps can skilfully add finesse to most photos.

If you've said "wow" to too many of your friends' pictures, it's time to wow them now. We have picked out a few apps that can instantly add a 'pro' touch to your pictures and videos. Download them, get clicking, and unleash the (professional) photographer in you.

Snapseed: This is an easy-to-use app by Google offering a range of editing tools and filters. You can crop images, rotate, adjust vertical and horizontal perspective, adjust white balance and curves, expand the image and much more. The Tune image tool allows you to manually adjust brightness, contrast, saturation, ambience, highlights, shadows and warmth. The Healing tool removes unwanted spots with just a tap or brush. The Lens Blur filter creates a blur area around the subject quite well. You can experiment with a variety of filter effects such as Glamour Glow, HDR Scape, Drama, Grainy Film, Vintage, Noir, Frames and Double Exposure, among others. There is a special tool for editing faces - automatic and manual spotlight adjustment, skin smoothing, eye clarity, options to choose skin colour between pale, fair, medium and dark. Its newest addition is the Pose tool that allows you to tilt or pan the face to a certain degree. It also lets you to control the intensity of the subject's smile without distorting the image. On Snapseed, you can also edit RAW images imported from other cameras.

Free; iOS and Android

Photo Editor by Aviary: This one is easy to master, given its clean interface. Its array of photo editing tools and effects focus on image correction and enhancement. Apart from the usual options, Aviary lets you use text, draw, sharpen, add stickers, overlays, control blemish and redeye, and create memes. Its Enhance option is like an auto-correct tool; you can choose between hi-def, scenery, food, portrait and night. The result is fabulous. Effects has two options only - signature and gamer - but you can access more effects packs such as Vintage Effects, Nostalgia, Viewfinder, Travel Sticker pack, etc, for `80 each. The Adjust tool offers a variety of options such as brightness, exposure, contrast, warmth, and saturation. You can add text over the image or draw over it, add a blur effect and edit portraits using the Blemish, Redeye and Whiten options. The colour splash tool that highlights certain colours in the photos while leaving others in black and white is the best thing about this app. It's no wonder that Aviary has the editor's choice tag on the Apple app Store.

Free; in-app purchase; iOS and Android

VSCO: This is a complete package. VSCO allows you to capture, edit and share the image. One set comprises regular editing tools such as Exposure, Contrast, Crop, Sharpen, clarity, Shadow Tint, Grain, Vignette, etc. Then there are other Instagram-like filters such as M3 for Mood, M5 for Fade and B1 for Classic. You just need to double tap to get into the editing mode. The app offers limited filters, but one can make in-app purchases for filters such as Low-contrast series, the Alchemy Collection and the Legacy Collection. The edited images are stored in VSCO's studio and can be shared on the VSCO community - like Instagram it allows you to fetch contacts from Twitter or add new contacts. You can also opt for the VSCO X app offering 100+ presets along with exclusive member-only tools for an annual subscription of $19.99.

Free; in-app purchase; iOS and Android

Adobe Lightroom: Lightroom allows you to capture images in automatic, professional and high dynamic range. You can fetch images from the gallery, too, for editing. While, it has a whole host of manual editing options (it is from Adobe's stable after all), the highlight is the wide range of presets one can choose from. Presets are categorised into Creative, Color, B&W, Detail, Effect and Camera; and each has five to six modes.

Free; iOS only

Apple Clips: Launched for iPhone, it helps create quick videos for social media platforms. The app can combine video clips, images and music seamlessly. Touch and hold a button to shoot live videos and photos, or add them from the Photo Library. There are artistic filters (Comic Book, Noir, Ink and such), speech bubbles, shapes or emojis to make the videos more interactive. Replace the text in the speech bubble or resize with a single tap. You can make full-screen posters with animated backgrounds and customisable text. Clips has several soundtracks to choose from, and they automatically adjust to the length of a video. The Live Tile feature generates captions automatically while you speak, matching the timing of your voiceover. Mute the voiceover if you wish to add background music. You can add clips to a video and edit on the go.

Free; iOS only

VivaVideo: This editor and photo movie maker is sure to award a professional look to your videos. It has basic editing tools that let you trim a video, add themes and music. Easter, Spring Bloom, Beau Monde, Let's Party, Birthday, Pets and Movie are some of the popular themes on VivaVideo. Some of the themes have to be purchased (for `160 each), while some others can be unlocked by watching a promotional video or by rating the app. You can continue to use this app for free but you may have to spend a few bucks to access advanced features. For instance, the video parameter adjustment feature that allows you to control the brightness, sharpness, saturation, contrast and temperature of a video, can be purchased for `160. The premium pack priced at `400 gives you a watermark-free, ad-free experience with unlimited video length and HD quality export.

Free; in-app purchase; iOS and Android

KineMaster: This video editing tool supports multiple layers of videos, images and text. Video clips and layers can be trimmed precisely with frame-by-frame granularity, and audio clip timing can be adjusted with sub-frame accuracy. It allows multi-track audio, unlimited text, image, handwriting and sticker layers, and also precise control of layer positions. There are preset animation effects that can be added to the layers. Other features of KineMaster include hue, brightness and saturation controls; transition effects such as 3D transitions, wipes and fade; precise volume controls within a clip and more. KineMaster also offers instant previews while editing.

Free; in-app purchase; Android only


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