Choosing the right Instagram filter is an agonizing decision. Do I want to be mysterious and moody with Brannan, or light and ethereal with Amaro? Do I look tanner with Earlybird or Kelvin? One could spend hours tapping back and forth between selections.
Fortunately, your choices are about to be winnowed down significantly, because as all Instagrammers know, there are some filters that are far superior to others.
Here's the definitive ranking of Instagram filters, from best to absolute worst. We took the liberty of reminding you what these filters look like on a couple of stereotypical photos. Feel free to disagree with us in the comments below!
Kelvin... Oooh, Kelvin, Kelvin, Kelvin. We don't really know how to put this...
Yep. That about sums it up.
Best For: Using it ironically, because it's Kelvin.
1977 is almost as pointless as Kelvin when it comes to Instagram. Sure, you look exactly as I'd expect you to look, but that doesn't mean I have a use for you.
Best For: Obviously, any photo you want to look retro, think punchy graphics or graffiti.
Walden, what's your deal? It's like you want us to look pale and jaundiced at the same time. Rude.
Best For: The yellow tint won't work on your selfies but will look lovely on subjects outside. Think puppies and children.
Hudson, you have the unfortunate talent of making even my beach pictures look icy, frigid, cold. There's a reason you're kept in the back with the other misfits. #Realtalk
Best For: Keep it outside. This filter is best for keeping things modern. Think architecture and sleek, shiny cars.
We already have a black and white filter, Inkwell. GTFO.
Best For: When you're feeling pretentious and Willow just ain't cutting it.
It's not that we have a problem with Sutro, it's that we just don't ever remember using it. Like, ever.
Best For: Sutro looks very dark and kind of scary, so perhaps save this one for Halloween.
Sierra is really beautiful when it comes to landscape and still life, but it really washes us out, so it's getting bumped to the lower half of the list. Sorry, Sierra.
Best For: Making still-life photos look soft and sophisticated with a lovely glow.
Hefe, we already have X Pro II and Lo-Fi, why do we need another bright filter? If X Pro II is Regina George, and Lo-Fi is Cady Heron, you're Gretchen Weiners. And we all know how many candy canes Gretchen Weiners got.
Best For: Fun photos with lots of color, like flowers or poolside pics.
Toaster is kind of odd until you pair it with the impossibly perfect #toasted tag. Suddenly, you're looking at it in a whole new light.
Best For: Literally anything, as long as you add the #toasted caption a la comedienne Chelsea Peretti.
Nashville is the one-hit-wonder of the Instagram filter world. That Creamsicle color is going to be perfect for one very specific photo, we just haven't figure out what that photo is yet.
Best For: You let us know when you find out. We have no clue.
Brannan is kind of like that guy you dated in college. It's beautiful, and you really want to like it, but man is it moody. Save only for your most emo #tbt pics.
Best For: Artsy photos of chairs or ferris wheels, or any selfie that involves you staring into the distance.
Black and white can be a little pretentious, but if anyone can pull it off, it's Willow. Willow is as soft and pretty as a photo can be when it doesn't have any colors in it.
Best For: When you want to take a selfie but aren't really camera-ready, black and white hides all flaws, and Willow in particular is very forgiving.
Lo-Fi, you beautiful monster, where's the middle ground? You either make our photos stunningly beautiful or the worst ever. Can't you be more consistent?
Best For: Lo-Fi shines in the food porn category. Proceed with caution when it comes to Lo-Fi selfies.
6. X Pro II
The most consistent of the "bright" filters, X Pro II punches up our colors without making them too garish. Instead they look sleek and oh-so-profesh.
Best For: Photos with pops of bright colors. (Think selfies with red hair or lips, green grass against a gray sky.)
Valencia rounds out our top five because of its impressive knack for making even the most delicate colors more prominent, and for how it warms up the whole photograph.
Best for: Photos with dull, fine colors, like light pinks and other pastels. Valencia will pretty them right up.
Rise, as in the rise of the morning sun, gives our photos a soft, warm glow. And we're totally cool with that.
Best For: Making skin look soft and smooth, or for adding that refreshing "morning" look to your coffee art or #dailycommute pic.
Amaro hits the top three because (1.) it's easily accessible and (2.) it gives our photos a light, airy glow.
Best For: Blue-eyed selfies (just trust us), or any dark photo that needs to be lightened up.
When we really can't choose, Mayfair is always there for us, ready to be just flattering enough without making it look like we're trying too hard. That's what filter friends are for.
Best For: Anything. When in doubt, Mayfair.
Not only is it one of the most flattering filters in the palette (oh, what's up instant bronzer?), it's also one of the most popular, according to this infographic.
Best For: When your summer glow isn't quite there yet, and your selfies need a boost.
Note: Valencia was missing from the original version of this post. Some would argue that because we forgot it, we don't love it. We're so sorry, Valencia!
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