The Best Film, Vintage & Retro Photo Filters in 2024

Last Updated on Mar. 8, 2024 – by David Morgan
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Go Retro With Vintage Effects

Fanny packs, Saved by the Bell, oversized flannel, and analog film photography.

What do all of these things have in common? They were all popular in the 90s and have seen a comeback in recent years.

The current generation is into all things retro, especially the scratched, dusty, light-leaky, and orange date-stamp on the side photos of decades past. But they weren’t around to remember how difficult and expensive film photography was!

Once you paid for a camera, rolls of film, and getting the film developed, you still weren’t guaranteed any of the photos would turn out. Not to mention waiting days for the photos to be ready. In today’s world of instant gratification, who has time to wait for film to develop?

Below we’ll tell you everything you need to know about photo filters and how to get the best one.

In a hurry and looking to apply professional looking filters to your photos? Try the PhotoDirector app. It has some of the best photo filters and it’s free to download.

What are Photo Filters?

A photo filter alters the appearance of an image by changing the shades and colors of the photo.

There was a time when the only way to change the look of your photos was by screwing a filter into the front of the camera lens. Once you shot with the filter, there was no way to go back and make changes to the photo if you didn’t like the results.

Today, we can completely change the look of a photo long after it has been taken with a simple tap of a button. If we don’t like the way it looks, we can try out a different filter without harming the original photo in the least.

Instagram popularized the use of photo filters, and now there are tons of apps offering different photo looks.

When and How to Use Photo Filters?

Photos posted to social media with a filter get more likes and comments than those that do not. Photo filters make a photo more interesting and can cause people to stop and take a second look.

Filters can enhance the drama and mood of a photo, brighten a photo that’s too dark, or make a photo appear antique. You can use a filter to highlight an image or to add consistency to a group of photos.

Filters have even been known to boost self-esteem. A filter can hide imperfections, whiten teeth or add a tan to pale skin.

When using photo filters, it is important to know that not every filter works on every picture. Try out a few different filters to find one that will enhance - and not distract from - the original photo.

Best Film, Vintage, and Retro Photo Filters in 2023

Retro photo filters can transport your image into any time period. From the black and white Daguerreotypes of the 1800s to the vibrant Polaroids of the 60s, the photo filters in the list below cover it all.

1. Vintage Film Reel

Vintage Film Reel Before
Vintage Film Reel After

To start off our list we have the Vintage Film Reel filters. They will make your photos look like a still from a movie filmed in the 60s or 70s. They can make your pictures look like they were taken once upon a time in Hollywood.

Try them on a picture of an old building or object to imbue a sense of nostalgia. Or use it on a wedding or prom photo to up the romance factor.

2. Film Reel

Film Reel Before
Film Reel After

If you just want to have a film look without it feeling like it was taken from when your parents were born, try out the Film Reel filters. Like the Vintage Film Reel, these filters make your pictures look like a still taken from a film. But instead of the 60s and 70s, think more 80s and 90s. Or even a Christopher Nolan or David Fincher film.

It’s subtle differences in the filters but they give a totally different feeling. The shows in your photos will have a nice crisp look. Film Reel looks good on photos with lots of color and light

3. Psychedelic 60s

Psychedelic 60s Before
Psychedelic 60s After

Did someone say peace, love, and Polaroids? This filter evokes the look of a 1960s Polaroid. If you wanted to know how you would have looked at Woodstock, throw on some bell bottoms and try these filters out.

Some colors appear muted, while others pop just like how an old photo fades through time. This is a great filter for photos that look like they are from the era, like this VW Van.

4. Film

Film Before
Film After

Not all films are created equal. In fact, back in the day, there were dozens if not hundreds of different kinds of films. The simply named Film filters do a good job of shifting the tone and hues of photos. The different filter options add a slightly different hue. Definitely experiment with each of these to find the right fit for your image.

These filters work well for photos with vivid colors that really pop.

5. Black & White

Black & White Before
Black & White After

Nothing implies the past like black and white. There is something about the absence of color that just feels like years have passed. Black and white filters can also help eliminate distracting backgrounds and colors and focus on a single subject.

Black and White filters are great for nature photography and especially photos of animals. The filter also works well on buildings and skylines.

Black & White Skyline Before
Black & White Skyline After

6. Bleached

Bleached Before
Bleached After

The Bleached filters remove some color and turn down the contrast; giving photos a sun-kissed look. The photos appear vintage because they look as though the sun has damaged them over time. In the past, this look could have been achieved when the film negative was exposed to a little bit of light. However, the chances of overexposing and ruining all your pictures would have been quite high.

Use the filter on outdoor and light-filled photos for best results.

7. Light Leak

Lightleak Before
Lightleak After

Back in the analog days, light leaks were usually unintentional and ruined many shots. They occurred when a small amount of light hit the camera sensor or film. Because this only happened in film photography, the look has a retro feel.

Now you can purposefully add light leaks to photos in an artful way using photo filters. Since these filters simulate a sun look, it makes sense to use them on outside photos or photos taken near a light-filled window.

How to Add Photo Filters?

Adding photo filters to images is one of the easiest things to do in photo editing. It requires no technical knowledge. As long as you know what looks good you’ll be able to add filters to your photos with great success.

First, download and open PhotoDirector on your device and follow these steps:

Step 1: Tap Edit and choose the photo you’d like to change.

PhotoDirector App Effects Page

Step 2: Choose Effects.

Step 3: Tap on the effect you want. Filters are found under Look.

Step 4: Scroll through the filter options. Tap one to try and use the slider to change the intensity.

PhotoDirectorDirector App Shop

If you don’t see the filter you want, click on the Shop icon in the left corner. There are lots of filters to download.

Step 5: Tap the check mark in the upper left corner when you find the filter you like best to apply it.

Other Vintage Effects

Below are some other fantastic vintage effects you can apply to your photos using PhotoDirector.

1. VHS Effect

VHS Effect Example

Remember the tracking button on VCRs? If not it was the button you’d have to push up or down to make the squiggle go away on a VHS tape.

The VHS Effect from PhotoDirector brings back that squiggle.

There are 8 options under VHS effect, some grainy, some with lines and some with squiggles. Use the 4 slider bars to change the location and intensity of the effect.

2. Light Leak Overlay

Lightleak Filter Example

Similar to the Light Leak filters the Light Leak Overlays make it look like the sun or light is affecting your photo. They make it appear as if light is bouncing off of the lens.

There are 10 different options that change the location, intensity, and colors of the light leak.

3. Scratch Overlay

Scratch Filter Example

Scratches are something a digital image will never have but film negatives and photos are scratch magnets. The Scratch Overlays give the appearance your images have been scratched and the look of some wear and tear.

There are 10 different types of scratches to choose from, and a slider bar to change the intensity.

How to Add Photo Effects and Overlays?

With PhotoDirector adding effects and overlays is as easy as adding photo filters.

Follow these simple steps to add a VHS effect to your images once you download and open PhotoDirector on your device:

Step 1: Tap Edit and choose the photo you’d like to change.

Step 2: Choose Effects.

Step 3: Choose VHS.

Step 4: Scroll through the effect options and use the sliders to change the effect’s settings once applied.

Step 5: Tap the checkmark in the upper left corner when you are done.

If you’d like to add an Overlay to a photo using the PhotoDirector app follow these steps:

Step 1: Tap Edit and choose the photo you’d like to change.

Step 2: Choose Overlays.

Step 3: Tap on the overlay of your choice.

Choose between Blender, Light Leak, Grunge, Scratch, and Lens Flare.

Step 4: Use the slider and options to customize your overlay.

Step 5: Tap the checkmark in the upper left corner when you are done.

Best Photo Filter App Free Download

PhotoDirector is the best app for adding filters to your photos. It offers hundreds of filters, photo effects, and overlays to make your photos look totally unique.

With PhotoDirector you have complete creative control over your filters. Each filter allows you to change the intensity with an easy-to-use slider. You can also quickly apply and change the settings of effects and overlays like VHS and Scratches.

PhotoDirector is a great choice for beginners who just want to pick a filter and save or serious photography hobbyists who want more control.

Download the PhotoDirector app for free from Google Play or the App Store.

Photo Filters FAQs

1. What is the best software for photo filters?

Here are the top 5 video editing software with photo filters that are available on Windows, Mac, and online.

  1. PhotoDirector 365
  2. Fotor
  3. BeFunky
  4. LunaPic
  5. Instasize

2. What is the best app for video filters?

Below are the top 5 video filter apps available on your mobile device.

  1. PowerDirector
  2. KineMaster
  3. WeVideo
  4. iMovie
  5. Magisto

3. What is the best software for video filters?

Below are the top 5 video filter software, available on Windows, Mac, and online.

  1. PowerDirector 365
  2. Instasize
  3. EaseUs Video Editor
  4. Adobe Premiere Pro
  5. iMovie
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