Instagram Builds Impressive Photo Editing Features Into Major Version 6.0 Release


Instagram just released its most significant update since the social photo sharing app enabled video sharing, adding a slew of photo editing features that bring the app in step with other major photo capture and editing apps like VSCO Cam.

The update adds two major features: the ability to edit all of the major parameters of your photos — such as contrast, color temp, brightness, saturation and so on — in-app, and the ability to select the strength of the filter you choose to apply.

In all, you can now edit Brightness, Contrast, Warmth, Saturation, Highlights, Shadows, Vignetting, Sharpening and Filter Strength, using sliders to select the degree to which the effect or edit is applied.


But this update, as Instagram CEO and co-founder Kevin Systrom told us over the phone yesterday, wasn’t “cooked up over the weekend.” He was adamant that many months of research went into making sure these edits are extremely responsive.

The bar the Instagram team held themselves to is the one set by high-end photo editors like Photoshop and Lightroom, said Systrom. And even though Instagram can’t and isn’t meant to match these powerhouse editor, Systrom explained that they did their best to make sure the edits are applied in the same way.

They painstakingly tweaked each editing parameter so that, for example, bringing out the shadows doesn’t change hues, and saturation affects each color channel differently, rather than bringing all the hues out at the same level. All of this research should, in the end, add up to a quick-and-easy editing experience that feels similar to the big guys, even if it isn’t as powerful.

Finally, in addition to the addition of the photo editor and filter strength slider, Systrom also made sure to mention the improvements in speed. The team removed many unnecessary steps in the video upload process, so users should notice a significant drop in the time it takes to upload and post videos to Instagram.

Here’s a quick video demo of the new editing features in action:

Say what you will about Instagram, but the service has become almost as much a part of the professional photo community as the amateur community.

The then-unique mix of social network and photography app initially launched Instagram to amazing heights. The addition of features like direct sharing improved on the social networking features to make sure the app stayed competitive with messengers like Snapchat.

This update, however, strikes right at the core of what Instagram is about: photography. And even though many professionals who use the service will have edited their photos before uploading, we have no doubt the ability to edit images in-app will come in handy when you’re out and shooting on-the-go.

Instagram is literally rolling out the update right now for both iOS and Android (Ice Cream Sandwich and above) users, so head over to the iTunes App Store or Google Play to download or update and take these editing capabilities for a spin.

  • Simon wardenier

    This rollout is way past it’s due date. People have reverted to using a variety of other apps to snap and edit their pictures. Along the way people have also started using those other apps to apply filters. This means that Instagram is no longer a camera app, it’s merely the social platform on which people post their pictures.

  • Leif Sikorski

    When will we see the day where they raise the resolution of photos? 640pixel was maybe a reasonable resolution many years ago when Instagram started and people used an iPhone 4, but not these days were we have highres displays on iOS/Android Devices and the webview. Compared to other networks the quality on Instagram is pretty low because of this limitation. A few days ago I tried to relax a bit and pushed my Instagram friendstream to my TV – it just looked horrible and pixelated. I know many people who switched to EyeEm because they want their photos to look as good as possible which Instagram doesn’t deliver. G+, FB and Flickr are other options. C’mon Instagram…
    A higher resolution would also offer more opportunities for the users like EyeEm does right now with their new market place to sell photos.

  • Vickie F

    Doesn’t seem to be updating on my Galaxy S3, Says the latest updated date is June 3 and shows the new brightness setting in the screenshots, not prompt for update and my version is still 5.3.0 :( Uninstall/Reinstall doesn’t do it either.

  • matt

    OMG people. Stop complaining. How many of you have actually lost a shooting gig to someone that only shoots Instagram photos. This is a social media platform not a professional platform. It’s just meant for fun.

  • Gannon Burgett

    I have to ask where you’re getting your 640x from? As of right now, the maximum output size for square/crop images on both iOS and Android is 2048px. If your images are small in size than that, it’s due to your camera not having enough megapixels. But any smartphone camera made in the past 5 years has at least 5-megapixels, so I don’t think that should be the problem.

  • sascharheker

    “features that bring the app in step with other major” And that is impressive?

  • Mike

    The future of Instagram: Toolkit as large as Photoshop’s, final output quality of Lomography standards.

  • Mike

    Meant for fun? So let us poke fun at it.

  • Leif Sikorski

    That’s what they store locally on your phone, but what you actually see from other people in the stream is a much lower resolution. Just take a look at the Instagram website, the images are all 640×640 pixel. If the images would be larger we could also zoom in in the mobile app like we can do in the EyeEm App for example who use a much higher resolution.
    The iPhone 4 had a 960×640 resolution so they’ve must decided to use 640x640px resolution for their stream back in early days and never changed that since then. If you use a highres device you can clearly see a difference between an image hosted on Instagram and one on EyeEm or G+ or similar services with a higher resolution.

  • OtterMatt

    Have we reached the phone-cam singularity yet? It really seems like everything has all the features that everything else has now, to the point where every camera app is interchangeable up to which site you want to post the images on.

  • Graf Almassy

    VSCO Cam editing tools/presets and VSCO Grid still better in terms of quality. I don’t want to see my friend’s breakfasts and cats all the time. VSCO Grid is a perfect enviroment for a smartphone photographer.

  • Will Mederski

    was coming here to state the exactly same point.
    couldn’t have said it better.

    all these features are just going to complicate my instagram experience.