Fstoppers Reviews VSCO X Mobile App: Consistent Stylized Colors for Mobile Content

Fstoppers Reviews VSCO X Mobile App: Consistent Stylized Colors for Mobile Content

Everyone knows I am a workflow nut, and for a content creator who posts many cell phone images, the concept of downloading them to your computer then retouching and grading them and sending back to your phone is simply not efficient. Today we will be looking at the VSCO X app for mobile devices and how I like to use it for that very purpose.

What Is VSCO X? 

VSCO X is a premium version of the free VSCO app at a yearly cost of only $20. Included are premium filters only available to VSCO X subscribers (some filters can be purchased individually to expand the usefulness of the free version, however some of the premium filters are not available even to purchase without the VSCO X subscription). There is a built-in camera within the app to capture a photo right into VSCO X, but I am not really comfortable using that as a native camera, on a trip especially. For me it's easier to use the phone's native app to edit photos already taken with your phone. Especially since the features within the native camera app on a phone such as the Galaxy S9+ are so good.

The VSCO X app has several different paths available, one being a social media form of itself in the community where you can share your images. For my specific needs, the more useful function is the ability to save and use VSCO X presets for your own images and then save them back to your phone for posting on various platforms like Instagram. The VSCO community could perhaps be a good source for inspiration, but for me I just don't want another social-like community to manage. Of course that doesn't mean it's not perfectly suited for some folks.

VSCO News within the VSCO X app.

With hundreds of presets inspired by film styles available, there's bound to be a style you like. Working with the filters is pretty easy; a thumbnail with the preset applied gives you a rough idea of what it will be. Tapping on the filter applies it and lets you see a bigger preview. When the full view is open you can tap and hold to see the original, and release to see the filter applied. It's a sort of before and after like one would do with a layer in Photoshop.

VSCO X also allows the use of these film filters on videos, which adds a nice touch to things like vacation short videos as well. Obviously, they take a little longer to export back to your phone's gallery.

There are editing tools as well as presets:

VSCO X Editing Tools available.

The nice thing about the editing tools is the ability to save a recipe. So if you always want a certain amount of grain and vignette with a fade, you can create it and save it which of course will give you not only consistency but save some steps as well.

The Ideal Travel Companion App

I recent went on a trip to the Caribbean through Mexico, Grand Cayman, and Jamaica and I decided that even as a working photographer that the best plan was to leave the real camera at home and work from my mobile. Not having been to such places, I figured the stress of worrying about $10,000 worth of equipment would sour the fun of the trip. Secondly, I wondered what real benefit I was going to get from taking the big camera? Making large wall portraits? Unlikely for vacation-type photos, therefore the phone would be the smarter choice.

But, I am obsessed with color and consistency and I like all my images to be graded and this is where the VSCO X app perfectly shined.

Editing GoPro Images on the Go

As good as the cell phone images can look, the GoPro Hero 6 added an even new dimension of style — especially for showing the proportions of the ship. The Hero 6 allows a connection from the camera to my mobile device and can download JPGs from the GoPro to the phone, which can then be edited with VSCO X, graded and posted with my stylized theme right from my device.

Showing style and recipe options for a GoPro image on the mobile device.

Having Fun With Different Looks

I was able to easy check out some different looks while on my vacation and send to folks, and post to social media and it worked out better than expected.

What I Liked

Everybody seems to be producing film look filters these days, but VSCO's quality seems to be better than the rest with a more natural yet stylized look. I really enjoy the ability to produce these looks on my phone while I'm out on a trip.

What I Didn't Like

While the ability to save presets is good along with the use of the filters themselves, it would be really nice to be able to select a bunch of thumbnails in your VSCO gallery and bulk apply a preset to them all in one shot. If I had shot a whole series in one place and wanted the consistency, needing to go into each photo in the app and hit the preset is a cumbersome step. Obviously, for working with just a few photos it's not such a big deal so it all depends on how you use the app.


Unless you've been living under a rock, you have certainly come across an Instagram influencers' account where you see this super consistent and stylized color theme. There's different ways of achieving a consistent and stylized look. Depending on the type of content you share — cell photos versus uploading actual session images — the options vary. I do recommend giving VSCO X a shot.

While I am not personally a fan of yet another subscription service these days since they all seem to nickel and dime you, I feel the cost is inexpensive enough to make this app worthwhile, especially since it can easily add a certain style and consistency to your postings which seems to be a common denominator across all social media experts as the right and only way to go.

Try it out for yourself for a free trial week and see how it fits your workflow. VSCO X is available for both iOS and Android.

Bill Larkin's picture

Bill is an automotive and fashion inspired photographer in Reno, NV. Bill specializes in photography workflow and website optimization, with an extensive background in design and programming.

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Now that LR CC is allowing people to import their presets to the mobile space, I wonder how useful these extra apps will be. So if people already bought VSCO presets, do they need to buy this extra $20 one?

"it would be really nice to be able to select a bunch of thumbnails in your VSCO gallery and bulk apply a preset to them all in one shot"

I believe this is already possible. Once you've edited a photo, go back to your thumbnail view, select the image and then under the options you can "copy edits" and then select all of the images you wish to paste those edits to and go into the options again to apply the edit.

I didn't see a way to bulk apply it to say 100 photos... without needing to go into each photo and paste the edits. (I could have just not known how... but I didn't easily see it)

Just wanted to clarify because I use the bulk edit feature a ton on my phone and LOVE how much easier it is to make collections that are cohesive.

I will go back in and try again!