A police car drives by in the background, reflected on a window with curtains, and Japanese characters.

Next up on the back to the photo editing apps we used in the past and are now trying again series, I revisit an old, dear, friend: VSCO.

We go WAYYY back.

I have had a few moments that were paradigm changing in my professional life. VSCO played a role in one of those.

Film to digital was important, of course, but the move from Photoshop to Lightroom was also very significant.

When that move happened, filters for Lightroom started (slowly, if I remember correctly) showing up on the market. VSCO sold packs of carefully researched and developed film emulations. VSCO Film.

We still did everything from scratch for the newspaper, gently tweaking a couple of settings that didn’t clash with the whole photojournalism ethos. But, for our personal work, these filters were really cool. Tap a button, and the whole photos turns into something else. Well done film emulation is great.

They were amazing. Fresh. Really nice work. Not cheap, not by today’s standards I guess, but still affordable enough. I bought a few packs.

Side note: I would also find out later this was a very pirated piece of software at the time.

And, yet, those filters, bought ages ago, are ones I still use to this day. Actually, every single day. The filter I default to when editing every single photo I take, is based on their Velvia simulation, part of one of the VSCO Film packs. I have that available on the iOS app, as well as on both Lightroom versions: CC, and Classic.

While I’m at it, was the original VSCO for iOS limited to the 10 presets (0-10, no letters in their names)? Or am I dreaming? Someone remembers how that worked?

Moving on. I had the original app, subscribed for a few years when they moved to that model, and then stopped. movieStar used the app, and loved it too, but moved on.

I still had the filters though, via Lightroom. Hundreds of them. And always used the same handful of favorites anyway.

And I was not using the social network/portfolio part of the app that much.

Fast forward to last month.

When Hipstamatic launched their X network, I started playing with it, and the older Classic app. I had fun again.

That led me to VSCO. How is it these days?

Not so bad, turns out.

mock up of three iPhone screenshots with vsco

Filters are, for me, still some of the best around. They look more real than Hipstamatic’s, for instance.

The app has a few cool ones that you can use for free (or were these restaured from my previous purchase?), and a very decently priced yearly subscription, that unlocks hundreds of filters, and a few extra editing tools. Good ones.

And you can use the social side of it, if you’re so inclined.

mock up of three iPhone screenshots with vsco

I have to say I like browsing the timeline a lot. This has a lot more interest to me, than the timeline I get on Glass, or Hipstamatic, Pixelfed, even Instagram.

Following the official VSCO account is a great way to get to know a lot of cool photography. I soon found myself with a full feed. Hashtags are a thing here, so finding photos, and photographers is really easy.

The apps also has Spaces, collections, and other assorted features I won’t go into in this post. They’re mostly related to this social part of the app.

A public pay phone. Salmon colored.

I am enjoying the high quality filters, and loving the timeline. I’m even thinking about subscribing again. I did add a couple of photos to my feed already!

A black car drives in a street lined with skyscrapers.

The filters are still awesome, it’s a very capable editing app, and a great way to see different photography. Works for me.