Instagram updates with new camera features

A big update for the popular image-sharing app adds several new features to the in-app camera along with new filters and interface tweaks.

Buttons across the top let you rotate an image, adjust tilt-shift effects, switch to front-facing camera, and toggle image borders. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Today, the developers of popular photo-sharing app Instagram announced a big update. Calling it the largest revamp since Instagram launched almost a year ago, the company is introducing a complete upgrade to Instagram's camera with a "brand-new technology layer."

Instagram had already become a big hit for photo enthusiasts by adding a simple filter effect to photos, which could then be uploaded and shared with friends. But now, the app offers live filters so you can see your chosen effects before you snap a photo. Instagram says the filters have been rewritten to be 200 times faster, allowing you to switch between filters after you've taken your shot with almost instantaneous results.

The app now comes with four new filters: Amaro, Rise, Hudson, and Valencia. Instagram says it took cues from popular Instagram user @colerise to produce the new effects.

In addition to new filters that add variation to your snapshots, Instagram handles tilt-shift shots better as well. You can select blur, pinch, and pan tilt-shift effects, and see the results in an included live preview.

One of the most requested new features is the ability to take higher-resolution photos--up to 10 times larger than before. You are able to choose a resolution of up to 1,936x1,936 pixels on the iPhone 4 and 1,536x1,536 pixels on the iPhone 3GS. Unfortunately, you're only given the option to save the high-resolution shot to your camera library after uploading the photo to Instagram; high-res shots will not show up on Instgram share pages or Web sites that use Instagram's API. Still, having the high-res shots in your iPhone photo library means you can share them a number of different ways and lets you keep a high-quality shot for yourself.

To round out the new features, Instagram now offers one-touch rotation of images (no more sideways photos), and image borders have now been made optional.

To use the new features, you'll need to have an iPhone 3GS or newer; third-generation iPod Touch; or an iPad or iPad 2.

About Jason Parker

Jason Parker has been at CNET for more than 13 years. He is the Senior Editor in charge iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.