Instagram: Pros/Cons

By far and away, the most popular photo sharing phone app is Instagram. The popularity is almost staggering. 100 million monthly ACTIVE users. 40 million photos per day. 8500 “Likes” per second. 1000 comments per second. It isn’t any wonder why Facebook bought Instagram for 1 billion dollars last year.

When it comes to sharing a photo with as many people as possible, there just flat out isn’t any competition for Instagram.

Instagram can simultaneously post a photo to:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Foursquare
  • Flickr
  • Tumblr

Although I personally wouldn’t consider all of their filters usable, Instagram boasts 20 unique filters. Like Flickr, the names aren’t particularly useful, but unlike Flickr, you can scan through them fairly quickly:

  • 1977
  • Amaro
  • Brannan
  • Early Bird
  • Hefe
  • Hudson
  • Inkwell
  • Kelvin
  • Lo Fi
  • Mayfair
  • Nashville
  • Rise
  • Sierra
  • Sutro
  • Toaster
  • Valencia
  • Walden
  • Willow
  • X Pro

Plus Instagram comes with a photo enhancement feature that actually does change the appearance of an image.

A look at Instagram’s filter options:

Normal. No Enhancement

Normal. Enhancement
Normal. Enhanced.

Amaro. No Enhancement.

Amaro. Enhancement.
Amaro Enhanced

Mayfair. No Enhancement.

Mayfair. Enhancement.
Mayfair Enhanced

Rise. No Enhancement.

Rise. Enhancement.
Rise Enhanced

Hudson. No Enhancement.

Hudson. Enhancement.
Hudson Enhanced

Valencia. No Enhancement.

Valencia. Enhancement.
Valencia Enhanced

X-Pro. No Enhancement.
X Pro

X-Pro. Enhancement.
X Pro Enhanced

Sierra. No Enhancement

Sierra. Enhancement
Sierra Enhanced

Willow. No Enhancement.

Willow. Enhancement.
Willow Enhanced

LoFi. No Enhancement.
Lo Fi

LoFi. Enhancement.
Lo Fi Enhanced

Early Bird. No Enhancement.
Early Bird

Early Bird. Enhancement.
Early Bird Enhanced

Sutro. No Enhancement.

Sutro. Enhancement
Sutro Enhanced

Toaster. No Enhancement.

Toaster. Enhancement.
Toaster Enhanced

Brannan. No Enhancement.

Brannan. Enhancement.
Brannan Enhanced

Inkwell. No Enhancement.

Inkwell. Enhancement.
Inkwell Enhanced

Walden. No Enhancement.

Walden. Enhancement.
Walden Enhanced

Hefe. No Enhancement.

Hefe. Enhancement.
Hefe Enhanced

Nashville. No Enhancement.

Nashville. Enhancement.
Nashville Enhanced

1977. No Enhancement.

1977. Enhancement.
1977 Enhanced

Kelvin. No Enhancement.

Kelvin. Enhancement.
Kelvin Enhanced

One bonus (you may have noticed) with Instagram is that some of the filters have a frame you can toggle on and off. Some of the frames are actually a bonus, a few don’t really need to exist. What is disappointing is that you can’t mix and match frames. Each frame is assigned to a filter. It can’t be used for any other filter. More customization would be a plus, but since frames ultimately aren’t that useful, it isn’t a big miss.

The biggest con of Instagram is that you can only create square images. There is no other aspect ratio available. There is a commitment to theme that I respect, but this stubbornness has resulted in a cottage industry of third party apps to take rectangular images and making them square for publishing in Instagram.

Another negative of Instagram is that out of the app home, you can only use their camera. This might be a plus on a phone with a lesser camera app, it is a negative on a higher end phone. A plus for their camera app is that you can use the backwards face camera on your phone if it is so enabled. The Instagram camera is a decent camera app, but really only has the option of using or not using flash.

This is only a slight negative because you can use any camera app and then upload any picture into Instagram.

A positive of Instagram is that it saves Instagram images at a decent size. 2448×2448 on my phone. I could easily print decent sized pictures from that size. I’ve seen plenty of cool decorating ideas on the web with people printing their Instagrams. Another positive is that it saves its images in its own album, so you don’t have to go poking through another album for your images.

Another nice editing feature of Instagram is that it allows you to blur your pictures to emphasize your subject. There are two options. You can either circle blur or line blur. What is really nice about this feature is that you can control the size, placement, and orientation of the blurs.

Circle Blur.
Circle Blur

Line Blur
Line Blur

Another nice feature of Instagram is hashtagging. A feature that Twitter has really hung its hat on and that Facebook has been scrambling to try to figure out how to steal. By place a “#” in front of a word, you have hashtagged it. Making it a link to all similarly hashtagged pictures.

However, by far and away my favorite toy part of Instagram is the photo map. You have the option of putting any of your pictures onto your photo map. It is a great way to remember where images were taken, or just to mark, in a tangible way, all the places you have visited. While you won’t be able to tell from my medium range screen shot of my photo map, I have left central Iowa. You also won’t be able to tell the accuracy of the photo map. It will place that photo pretty much precisely on the block where you took the image.

Photo Map.

In fact, the Instagram photo map might be my favorite thing in all of social media.

A slight negative of the photo map is that you have to place the picture on the photo map when you take the picture, you can’t place it on the photo map later, like you can in Flickr’s photo map.