This is purely written because I feel like it, without any reimbursement at all. The people behind the Vignette app don't even know I'm doing this. The app is free (well, the "demo" version that I will tell you about is free - there is a paid version that I'm considering but as of this writing I haven't bought it). I get nothing nothing NOTHING for writing about this and there are no referral links in this post.
Also, while I have serious dreams of being a serious photographer, I'm not one. Vignette is an app for a phone. My phone takes decent 5MP pictures, and the demo version of the app limits you to a 0.8MP picture, meaning that right now I can't print high-quality pictures from the tweaks I make with it. So if you're looking for fancy photography advice, look elsewhere. But come back to chat with me after - I'd love to learn what you learned!
And finally, I wish I could afford an iPhone and the resulting monthly charges, but I can't. Vignette (Demo) is for the Android platform and I don't have any idea about what will appear for iOS, sorry. My phone is an HTC One V (not to be confused with the high-end HTC One, this is a sort of middle-end phone for Virgin Mobile (which I can afford, hooray!), and no, I would not recommend that you get one...).
PHEW. Let's get to the app. You can find it here.
Why do I love it?
Vignette has many, many customizable options for your pictures. You're not just limited to a few filters that mimic old-school cameras. It comes with a ton of pre-set filters within various categories - but then you can tweak each and every one so that it's exactly to your liking. Then you can combine the filters with customized picture sizes (including presets for Facebook and Google+ profile pictures, square sizes, panorama, and various ratio options) and frames.
While you can take a picture outside of the app and then import it to add all of your fun effects, you also can use the in-app camera, which also has many customizable options available. You can take four pictures in a row for a photobooth-style effect, for example. You can take a double-exposure picture. You can set a self timer, and you can take time lapse pictures. You can even take a picture underwater with specific settings for that if your phone can handle it. (Note: Vignette doesn't protect your phone from water damage... ;) )And then you can tweak the timing of everything if you want. Of course, after you're done, you can add all of the filters and effects on top of whatever you do.
When you're done, you can export said picture to wherever you like - including Instagram, of course, where you can layer yet another filter on top. But you also could take your picture with one filter, save it, and then import it back into Vignette for yet another filter. Filtering is fun!
This person made a nifty cheat-sheet showing you what a single picture would look like using many of the pre-set filters: http://www.flickr.com/photos/belay/4913376053/lightbox/
And Vignette itself also has a page set up to show you many of the available variations and options: http://vignette.neilandtheresa.co.uk/filter-examples
Did I mention that I absolutely love filtering my pictures?
|Taken at Super H-Mart - a pretty wall of Mexican sodas of all kinds.|
|Tweaked to bring out the colors, made square, added a soft frame.|
|All colors but green removed.|
|All colors but red removed.|
|I forget what I did but...hey, it looks pretty funky, eh?|
And then other silliness:
|Super-processed looks-like-old-negatives style.|
|More photobooth fun.|
What I don't like is that there is some guessing involved - there's no as-you-do-it preview (at least not in the free version). You open the picture, then you open a screen with options, you choose your options, and then you return to the picture to see how they all turned out. But then you can save the picture and change up the filters, change up the filters without saving, or just dump everything. You can also save your favorite tweaked filter as your own to use over and over again, which is a lot of fun.
So that, in a lot of words, is why my current favorite free photo app is Vignette (Demo).