iOS 7 vs. Instagram vs. Google+ vs. Twitter: Black & White photo filter comparison

I recently previewed the new Camera app Apple will be releasing alongside iOS 7 this fall, and one of the things that stood out for me the most was not so much the inclusion of built-in photo filters - everyone seems to be adding those these days - but the subtly and restraint shown in which filters Apple chose to include. Not only aren't there any tilt-shifts, frames, borders, or vignettes, but there's nothing overly aggressive about Apple's selection in any way. How does that compare to current king of photo sharing, Instagram, and to the other big social photo sharing services, Google+ and Twitter?

There's such a range it makes things tricky, so to begin with, I'm going to stick to black and white filters using what Apple's shown off so far on (opens in new tab), and the photo they've shown it off with. I'm not going to look at color filters yet, or at pro-level apps like VSCOCAM or Camera+. I am going to include Camera Noir both because it focuses on just the black and white filter, and because that filter is a lot like the late, lamented Gotham filter of Instagram past.

To create the comparison, I took the screenshots posted on, isolated the unfiltered image, loaded it into the other apps, applied their filters, and then took screenshots of the resulting images.

Here's what the black and white filters looks like from, in order, iOS 7 Camera, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, and Camera Noir.

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And here's the same comparison with the interface chrome removed, again, iOS 7 Camera, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, and Camera Noir:

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Since iOS 7 is still in beta, Apple could still change the way the Camera filters work and look before final release this fall. Never-the-less, it's interesting to see the direction they've taken, and perhaps even more so to see the various approaches to black and white filters already implemented in the apps we currently use every day.

Which set of photo filters is your go-to now, and how do you like what Apple's shown of iOS 7 filters so far?

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • To my surprise, iOS7's "Noir" and Instagram's "Inkwell" are my favs...
  • Oh I'm sorry but nothing beats Camera Noir.
  • Snapseed is better than all of these in my opinion. You have much more control over every aspect.
  • Google bought snapseed a long time ago and integrated it into the G+ app. The editing tools are almost the exact same.
  • I currently use PicShop HD and it has a good enough black and white filter for me. Although I do sometimes use Snapseed or Pixlr-o-matic too. Sent from the iMore App
  • What is weird to me is that filters are iPhone 5 and up only. Like the 4S can't handle filters...
  • Apple needs more reasons for people to go out and buy a new iPhone. I'm not sure how photo filters will be a strong case for an upgrade since everyone and their mother has a photo filter app.
  • Rene, please be aware that the monochrome filters in iOS 7 camera app are not 'digital filters'. Apple has chosen to use the red, green and blue optical filters on the CMOS sensor itself. 'Noir' is red CMOS pixels only, 'Tonal' is green CMOS pixels only and 'Mono' is blue CMOS pixels only. As there are twice as many green CMOS pixels as there are red or blue (green 50%, red 25%, blue 25%), 'Tonal' will work better in low light, yet 'Noir' and 'Mono' will show 'grain' witch is a desired effect in black & white photography. Test the effect out photographing an American flag.
    PS. The filters are not permanent, and can also be applied to any image in your Photos library.