VSCO Cam for iOS review:

A great minimalist photo editor gets even better

Fortunately, if you want to share all your work, VSCO lets you create a URL to your personal "grid" of shots. I like that I can send a link to all my shots, but I'd prefer to have feeds that I can customize to include photos from both me and my friends.

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Check out the Grid to see a curated collection of the best photos. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

The feed lacks features

You can view VSCO Cam's grid by touching the button in the main menu. Here the focus is obviously on the content, with big images that take up the screen, and a swiping interface for moving on to the next image. If you touch an image, you can get more info, such as the date it was taken, along with other stats like the ISO, whether the photographer used the flash and what filter was used.

What you don't get, however, are any ways to "Like" or comment on a photo. VSCO seems to be focusing more on the images themselves, which is fine, but it might be better to be able to at least give some feedback and create a discussion.

On the bright side, an issue I had with the earlier version has now been fixed. You can now perform a search on the Grid or in the new Journal (more on this below), using keywords to find the content you're looking for. Before you were basically left to look at what the people who curate the lists wanted to show you, so I'm happy that I can now do a search for photos.

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With the Journal you can write to describe your photo collection and the layout is great. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

The new Journal

Version 4.0 adds another great feature -- and probably my favorite so far -- with the new Journal. What the Journal lets you do is assemble several photos of the same theme together, then write as much text as you want to introduce and talk about your project. A new swipeable interface lets you go from the Grid to the Journal with a swipe to the left, then you can see examples for how people are using the new Journal features.

What's really cool about looking at a journal is you get a nice layout for all the photos with variable sizes that lay neatly on the page. When you touch an image you can look at a close up without distraction, then touch it again to go back to the Journal view.

It's a really great addition because it lets you present a group of photos a lot like a magazine, but the interactivity of viewing each photo up close lets you appreciate the choices the photographer made to take the photograph and edit it in VSCO.

Final thoughts

VSCO Cam was already a well-designed photo editor with a unique minimalist interface. The app looks great on the iPad, and really takes advantage of the larger screen with controls that are easy to get to. It takes great shots, and the filters and tools included are better than what you'll find in most apps. I also really like the capability to fine-tune each of the filters and effects to get the exact look you want.

The interface can be a little confusing at first, so you'll need to be ready for some trial and error to get the hang of it. I also think people will appreciate how the images are front and center in the Grid and Journal sections of the app, without a lot of noise to distract you from the photography.

With all that said, I still think the Grid doesn't have enough ways to sort content, making discovery limited to what is curated by VSCO. Some of that is fixed with new search tools, but I'd like more filter options. Still, VSCO Cam is much better than before and anyone from photographers to photo enthusiasts should check it out.

What you'll pay

    Pricing is currently unavailable.

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