Do you love Instagram and Hipstamatic on your smart phone and would love to get the same types of photo effects and filters online? Me too! I started looking around and found TONS of options available—it was overwhelming. The search ended up taking more time than I wanted (or had). I put together this list of resources so I wouldn’t have to do that monster search again, and you can totally use it so you don’t have to get lost in the deep end either. For quick reference, options labeled with a red heart are free to use, and options labeled with a green heart are free but offer additional features for a fee. Samples have the original photos on top and the edited photos on bottom.
This free online editing tool allows you to upload a photo and then add any of 21 effects, which can be layered to achieve even more looks. Once you choose an effect, some options have sliders to help adjust the overall look (fade, contrast, vignette, gamma colors). Compared to other online photo editing tools, this one is a bit limited with number of effects available, but if you’re looking to put something together quick and dirty, this is a good choice. You don’t have to register to use this service.
At 100% free, Rollip is a great option if you have a small budget. Choose from 80+ options for quick and easy online photo editing. There are choices for filters such as vintage sundown and sepia and effects like glitter, glow, butterflies and hearts. Although you can pair one filter with one effect, you cannot layer multiple filters and multiple effects. Choose from 11 different borders to frame your photos, and there’s a feature for adding text. Note that Rollip automatically squares your photos, as you can see with the sample showing the bike below. You don’t have to register to use this tool. Just download edited photos easily to your computer.
This is an online service for creating and editing photographs using filters and effects, and it has a photo editor feature that has simplified tools similar to Photoshop (layers, brushes, gradients, etc.). To use, simply upload an image from your computer or take a photo with your webcam. Hipstamatic fans will be able to quickly move through Photogramio’s options because its setup is similar to Hipstamatic’s camera-style interface with horizontal scroll options below. No registration needed.
Easily transform photos into tilt-shift-style miniatures using Tiltshiftmaker. Once a photo is uploaded, use sliders to manipulate effects for focus size, strength and gradient. A split-screen display allows a view of the original photo with tilt-shift applied and a view of bokeh style/aperature effects. This tilt-shift tool is cool but is best used with horizontal photos rather than vertical ones. The example below shows a vertical photo, and I couldn’t see a way to change the tilt-shift effect to be vertical rather than horizontal, which would clearly have a better effect on the train. No registration needed.
Kizoa offers a slideshow maker, collage maker, and photo editor. Each of these are free to use; however, there are additional premium effects available for a fee. Included in the fee is storage space for photos. If you need the storage and can’t live without the premium effects, it’ll set you back $29.99 per month for web-only photos (1 year) and $49.99 per month for DVD (2 years). As you might guess, there are far more premium options offered than free, with the free options being very basic and limited. Another drawback is that registration is required in order to use the tools.
Ribbet offers basic editing with rotate, crop, exposure, etc., as well as camera effects such as holga-ish, lomo-ish and fireside. No registration is required to use the basic features. At the time of this post, Ribbet is offering its premium features free for a limited time (time frame wasn’t given), but to access the extras, you have to register. Cost of premium fees aren’t listed at this time but will be once the free period expires. Some of the premium effects include true vintage, fancy focus and texture. Ribbet also has options for touch-ups, frames and stickers, all with premium features available, and you can add text to photos using a variety of fun fonts (better than expected selection).
PicMonkey has some fabulous features, and you don’t have to pay for the premium Royale package in order to get some cool photo effects. You can do basic edits and touch ups, and add effects, text, overlays, frames, textures and themes. If you have some dough to spare and want some of their premium features (marked with a little crown icon), they’re all yours for $4.99 per month or pay $33 for a year. No registration is required for freebies, but you’ll have to sign up for the preemos.
RadLab is simplified editing for creative photographers. It has 80 effects (called stylets) to blend, mix and combine with other stylets to achieve recipes. You can save the custom recipes you love. RadLab only works if paired with other editing software such as Photoshop CS3 or later, Photoshop Elements 7 or later, or Lightroom 2 or later. Operating systems should be Mac OS 10.5 or later or PC Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7. You can try RadLab for free for only 2 weeks, after which time you’ll have to pay $99 flat for the whole thing or $79 for Tra2 – The Revenge package, which has 55 stylets. If you already have Photoshop, Elements or Lightroom, this is a nice perk for quick editing, when you don’t have time to mess with applying actions and tweaking. Registration is required.
If you’re looking for iPhone apps to style your Instagram photos, this article has lots of great options:
Also check out our post on choosing the best Wacom tablet for your needs. A Wacom can do wonders to give photos that “wow” factor: