January 5, 2015

As part of the big updates and announcements in December, Instagram introduced 5 new filters to the app. These are the first time they've added filters in over two years and did so to keep up with "photography trends". I've played with the filters a little bit and wanted to give you some ideas on how you can use the new filters on Instagram.

New Look

Even before you play with the new filters, you've probably noticed the new look to the Instagram filter and tool bar layout. Where filters used to be on the tab with the magic wand, the symbol is now a circle with three lines.

And where filters used to be color variations of the hot air balloon, filters thumbnails are now the letter associated with the filter and a blurred representation of what your image will look like with that filter.

Manage Filters

I'm gonna admit, this is probably what I'm most excited about with the new filter update. Now you can manage your filters in the sense of how they are arranged on your Instagram tool bar.

You'll notice that the five new filters are now the first ones next to the "Normal" filter option. Of course, Instagram wants you to play with and use these so they're right up front for you.

However, if you scroll all the way to the right of the filters tool bar, you'll notice a button called "Manage" with a little gear icon. Tapping on this will open up all the filters in a new screen and allow you to rearrange how they appear in the tool bar. Those at the top of the list will be the left-most filters in the regular camera editing screen.

To rearrange your filters, tap and hold the filter you want to move and drag it up or down to the place you would like it. You can move ALL the filters as often as you want to create your own custom filter tool bar with all your favorites easily accessible.

You'll also notice the filters have check marks to the right of them, and some may not be checked. Anything checked means it will appear in the tool bar in the app. Anything unchecked (or with an X) will be hidden from the tool bar. If there are certain filters you know you never use, you can hide them, leaving you only those you use regularly.

Like I said, this is what I was most excited about because I was able to rearrange all my filters to my personal use. And while this will save precious milliseconds of scrolling through filters 😉 , I am grateful for the ease and convenience of this feature.

New Filter Effects

Instagram said the new filters "soften and subtly shift colors to achieve the look and feel you want". Many people, including one of my Instagram connections, have mentioned that these new filters are very similar (nearly identical) to some of the VSCO Cam filters. And, for all we know, Instagram used these for inspiration - many photographers and Instagram users use the VSCO app to edit their photos before uploading them to Instagram. And this could (likely) be Instagram's way of keeping people within the Instagram app versus using other 3rd party apps for editing.

Personally, I've played around with the new filters, and they're just not my style. They have some good effects, but I'm not usually one to "soften" my photos - I tend to prefer high contrast, high saturation photos. The only one I can see using on occasion will be Ludwig. But that's me.

For those who like to use filters to reduce saturation, add a vintage look, or soften contrast, some of these new filters will be your new favorites for sure.

I was going to dive into how the new filters work and their effects, but I found this article from Mashable that actually has 15 good examples of when to use the different filters and what they achieve. I highly recommend you go check this one out to get a good idea of how the new filters on Instagram work.


These changes are only applicable to the photo filters, not the video filters. The video filter previews will now look like these new photo filters, but you cannot manage the video filters and there are no new video filters either. However, an update that Instagram announced is the ability to now upload slow-motion videos to Instagram (which is great for iPhone users with the slo-mo feature).

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