Cover Image for Comparing Darkroom & VSCO

Comparing Darkroom & VSCO

If you're a lover of photography and enjoy editing your photos, you've probably heard of both Darkroom and VSCO. These two apps have become quite popular in the photography world over the years, and both offer some unique features. In this post, we'll take a look at the differences between both apps, and help you decide which one is best for you.

For one, most people now use their iPhone as their primary camera. Darkroom is built directly on top of Apple's iCloud Photo Library, so all of your photos are ready for you to start editing in Darkroom immediately after capture. We even integrate with popular camera apps to make the workflow from capture to edit as flexible, quick, and smooth as possible. So, you won't have to import or upload anything, and you won’t have to manage separate libraries. In contrast, VSCO requires you to import and upload every photo you want to edit into their separate library.

Additionally, Darkroom is exclusive to Apple devices, while VSCO is available on Android. So if you're an Android user, you're out of luck with Darkroom. On the other hand, if you're an Apple customer, which many mobile photographers happen to be, Darkroom has an award winning interface across devices that is focused on reducing clicks and taps and increasing workflow efficiency, making it ideal for those who want to be able to edit photos efficiently on the go.

Ultimately, the choice between these two apps depends on your personal preferences and needs. The good news is that both apps offer trials, so you can test them out before committing to a purchase. So whether you're a professional photographer or just someone who loves taking photos, both apps offer their own unique features and benefits. The choice is yours!


Let’s briefly introduce both applications.

Darkroom

We're a small, independent business that's been around since 2015. From the beginning, we've prioritized creating an exceptional photo editing experience on Apple's platforms that's optimized for people on-the-go. We were thrilled when Apple recognized our efforts by awarding us the prestigious Apple Design Award. Now, you can use Darkroom on your iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Vision Pro and take advantage of the seamless integration with Apple's iCloud Photo Library and many other unique Apple platform functionalities.

Darkroom is available on iPhone, iPad, Mac and Vision Pro
Darkroom is available on iPhone, iPad, Mac and Vision Pro

VSCO

VSCO, which stands for Visual Supply Company, has been a favorite among mobile photographers since its launch in 2011, and is a heavily venture capital backed company. As a pioneer in the mobile photography field, they have always focused on providing a complete photography workflow on mobile, from capture to editing to sharing. It's known for its signature filters, which emulate the look of classic film cameras, and its minimalist, intuitive interface. In recent year it has incredibly focussed on building out it’s own social sharing platform. Available on both Android and iOS platforms, they have a wide and diverse user base all around the world. It’s a great choice for those seeking a straightforward, user-friendly editing experience with a wide variety of filters to choose from.


How do they compare?

Let's delve deeper into the comparison between Darkroom and VSCO. We'll take a closer look at differentiating of features in both apps, and pricing to help you decide which app might be the best fit for your photo editing needs. Let’s get started.

Filters & Presets

Filters or presets are a popular feature in photo editing apps, and both apps offer a wide range of options. As already mentioned, VSCO is in particular known for its filter that emulate popular analog film stocks from yesteryear. It’s important to know that their best and most filters are behind a paywall, and you can’t download or install additional community made presets.

Darkroom Community Preset Discovery
Darkroom has community presets discovery, so you can easily explore and instaall thousands of free creative community presets shared by talented photo editors from around the world.

This is in contrast to Darkrooms presets. Although Darkroom also provides a set of premium professional created presets as part of Darkroom+, it also allows you to create your own presets, and offers a free option to share them. As such Darkroom has thousands of quality community presets for you to discover, and install for free. Which includes many presets emulating analog film, but also many other independent and creative presets.

At Darkroom, we believe that library management is a key feature that helps people create great photos. We recognize that importing and organizing photos can be a time-consuming and frustrating process, which is why we've made it as easy as possible. Our app is built with busy photographers in mind, and we've designed it to help you edit your photos quickly and efficiently on the go.

So if you're not a fan of spending hours importing, managing, and paying for separate photo libraries, give Darkroom a try! We think you'll love how easy it is to use and how it seamlessly integrates with your iCloud Photo Library.

Community and Sharing

VSCO has a large and active creative community, they provide a closed social platform for users to discover and share creative content. The app's curated feed showcases inspiring photography from around the world, fostering a sense of community among its users. VSCO Grid allows you to showcase your portfolio and gain exposure within the photography community.

Share your custom presets with anyone quickly and easily using a simple and accessible link
Share your custom presets with anyone quickly and easily using a simple and accessible link

Darkroom is focussed on being the most efficient and privacy first photo editor. Darkroom does offer preset sharing, and has built a platform for people to discover all presets the community has shared. But we have also chooses to not do certain things and deeply integrate with partner companies focussed on being the best in their respective fields. We have partnered with companies like Leica and Halide, to provide you the best and most convenient ways to capture your photos. Similarly we are huge fans of Glass, who have built an independent world class sustainable home for photographers online.

Ready to take your photo editing to the next level?

Download and try Darkroom on any of your Apple devices. Unlock powerful editing and transform your iCloud Photos in seconds, without any setup or importing hassles. From basic adjustments to advanced filters, Darkroom has everything to make your photos look amazing.

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Advanced Editing Tools

When it comes to editing tools, both apps offer a range of features. However, Darkroom may be a better choice for those who want more creative control over their edits. Darkroom offers more advanced tools, such as color grading, masks adjustments and curves, state of the art highlight and shadow recovery, allowing you to fine-tune your edits to a greater degree. Not to speak of the many library management features such as flag & reject, album & folder creation and search, which VSCO simply doesn’t have.

VSCO, on the other hand, has a more simplified approach to editing. The app primarily offers a range of presets that you can apply to your photos, as well as basic editing tools such as exposure, contrast, and saturation. This makes VSCO a good choice for those who only want to quickly edit their photos without spending too much time on it.

Mask preview thumbnails on Mac and iPhone
Mask previews thumbnails on Mac and iPhone

Advanced Masking — Darkroom has advanced masking options that allow you to edit specific parts of your photo with precision. You can use smart masks powered by AI and machine learning to easily select and edit just the foreground or background, the skin or hair on a portrait. Additionally, linear and radial masks are available, and you can even make selections based on depth, luminance, and color ranges. These features are nearly identical in both apps and can help you achieve the perfect edit for your photos!

Shadow & highlight Recovery — Our shadow and highlight recovery tools are at the cutting edge of the industry – for both JPGs and RAWs. And we don't say that lightly! We're a small, independent business, and we put our hearts and souls into making sure every feature is the best it can be. We don't cut corners or settle for "good enough." If we think it's worth doing, we do it right.

Our spatially aware algorithms ensure your shadow edits will not effect the midtones and highlights, and vice versa.

Color Grading — We aren't afraid to try new things and incorporate tools from other domains like video editing. One example of this is our color grading feature. It provides a compact and intuitive interface that makes it easy to develop a unique look for your photo. If you're looking for a photo editing tool that's both powerful and easy to use, give us a try!

With the global color wheel, you can essentially edit your photo as if you wearing a pair of tinted sunglasses and it makes everything look like the sunset
With the global color wheel, you can essentially edit your photo as if you wearing a pair of tinted sunglasses and it makes everything look like the sunset

Non-Destructive Editing

Darkroom uniquely offers non-destructive editing, which means you can edit photos without altering the original image. This feature is important because it allows you to freely experiment with different editing options and revert to the original image or any specific edit if needed. Image editors like VSCO, but also apps like Snapseed, or Pixelmator, permanently alter the original image with your edits, making it impossible to undo specific edits as every steps is destructively processed. So, whether you're a professional photographer or just someone who loves taking pictures, non-destructive editing is a great feature to have.

Native to Apple

Darkroom started off on iPhone, expanded to iPad, then came to the Mac, and is even available in Vision Pro with our compatible iPad app. Each version is tailored specifically to that platform. We owe a lot of our success to Apple, who made a wealth of technology and tools available to us as an independent software developer. We love the Apple software ecosystem, and we prioritize deep integration with it to provide super-tight and efficient workflows that seamlessly integrate with the system and other software. In fact, we use cutting-edge technology like Metal hardware-accelerated rendering, and leverage Apple's AI and machine learning advances, and specific features like Shortcut Automation to provide a level of platform integration that many other photo editors don’t match.

Processed, Cropped, Framed, & Watermarked Photos Right in Your Shortcut Workflows!
Processed, cropped, framed, & watermarked photos right in your Shortcut workflows!

Pricing Comparison

To be direct, the subscription plan for Darkroom is a lot more affordable than VSCO’s, specifically if you want access to all their premium features, in which case it’s nearly twice as expensive. They do provide a more limited option, but well it’s limited. Darkroom also offers a one-time purchase option, and a very feature rich free tier. In contrast, VSCO only has one yearly subscription plan. So if you're looking for a powerful photo editor that won't break the bank, and is easy to try, Darkroom is definitely worth considering!

Affordable Memberships

Go premium with Darkroom+ and enjoy full creative control while editing.

Free

Try all premium Darkroom+ features with export restrictions. Use many quality features for free.

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Monthly

Subscription that unlocks all tools for just $4.99 per month, trial not included. Share Darkroom+ with your family.

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Yearly

Subscription that unlocks all tools for just $32.99 per year after a free 7-day trial. Share Darkroom+ with your family.

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One Time

A one time purchase that's only $74.99 for a lifetime of full access to Darkroom+. Limited family sharing.

Purchase

Note: When you sign up for a trial and you don't want to continue with the subscription, make sure to cancel it at least 24 hours before the trial ends. If you do it later, Apple may charge you the full subscription fee. Prices may vary depending on your country or region. You can manage or cancel your subscription in App Store account settings.

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