If a picture is truly worth a thousand words, it seems like everybody's tongues are a-waggling thanks to the rapid rise of Instagram, the Apple/Android photo filter and sharing app. The Facebook-owned app isn't the only photo filter around, however, no matter how popular it is. These five Instagram rivals offer just as many old-timey filters and blurred edges as their better-known counterpart -- and each brings something unique and interesting to the table. Those five may be my favorites, but they're just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to photo apps. What are your preferred picture tweakers?
Pixlr-o-matic has over 5,000,000 happy Android users, and the ones who leave feedback overwhelmingly leave a perfect rating. What's all the hubbub about? Pixlr-o-matic lets you tweak and fine-tune your photos -- including ones stored on your phone -- using a mind-boggling array of options that includes over 100 effects, 280 overlays and nearly 200 borders. Instagram lovers take note: Pixlr-o-matic places an emphasis on vintage/retro filters.
Why just play around with vintage-looking filters when Retro Camera can mimic the actual experience of shooting through five different cameras inspired by actual vintage models? It may not have the sheer width and breadth of filter options as some of the other apps out there, but the ones that are there look great and Retro Camera is a blast to play around with. Note that unlike the other camera apps here, you don't get a big image as you're shooting. The tiny viewfinder you see above is all you g
StreamZoo has a bevy of resizing, border and filter options, though nowhere near as many as Pixlr-o-matic. You can also edit hue, saturation, brightness and contrast, and its tilt-shift support is a great addition for fancy-pants amateur photographers. Like Instagram, StreamZoo has its own social network, complete with a Twitter-like chat stream and the fun little addition of Foursquare-esque badges for uploading various types of photos.
The only premium-priced photo filter app on the list earns its slot for its sheer wacky factor; while most photo apps offer slight tweaks and retro filters, Camera Fun Pro goes off the deep end with filters that pinch heads, turn scenes into black-and-white pencil sketches (as seen above), transform photos into thermal maps and a whole lot more. Even better, the effects are "live," so you can see the filters applied before you even snap a picture. Highly recommended. A free version is available, but its filter options are severely limited.
Photosynth is notable not only for its Windows Phone support, but also for its ability to create amazing 360-degree photos of your surroundings by slowly panning the camera around. It's not just panoramas on the horizontal plane, either; you can create a full-blown "sphere"-type picture. The images take some time to process as the app stitches several individual images together into a coherent picture, but the end result is absolutely incredible -- and completely free.