Sure, you might not have a fancy DSLR camera, but you can still produce high-quality imagery on your iPhone at the click of a button – or several buttons. Get to know your way around these specific apps and you’ll be Insta-flexing in no time.

As the anecdote goes: the best camera is the one you have with you. We hit up Yopoosh, one of the most impressive iPhone photographers on Instagram, to learn the tricks of the trade. As you might expect, he has quite a considerable arsenal of apps to help elevate his iPhone photos into DSLR-quality images.

Check out his recommendations below, then get-to snappin’.


This is my primary app for every photo, allowing me to fine tune the basic essentials including contrast, ambiance, highlights/shadows, brightness and saturation. The best feature on this app is the selective adjust – super helpful for focusing on specific colors/highlights of my images that I want to either stray attention from or put emphasis on. For example, I usually desaturate the warm tones in my street photos.

Boosting up the detail in sharpness and structure (very lightly!) can help bring out the best in your photo and achieve a DSLR look as well. I would say this is the primary go-to app for achieving a DSLR look just because of the customization with selective adjust.

Download Snapseed here.


The next app in order for editing my photos – I primarily use VSCO for tones. You can implement so many different tonal ranges into your images but it’s also easy to overdo it with this app – creating a harsh overtone with super faded shadows and really low highlights that I feel can do the opposite of achieving a DSLR look on your images. Playing around with the level of applied preset is good to balance out the tones and ensure that it’s not overdone. When you compare the presets and VSCO tools available on Lightroom with the VSCO app, it’s amazing what you can achieve.

Download VSCO Cam here.

Image Blender

I use this app for various reasons: mainly to create juxtaposed images where I place an image of a person on top of an image of a landscape for example, and use the masking mode to cut the person out and place them into a new environment. It’s basically Photoshop in your pocket (with a lot more work and patience required). But I also use this when I have two different edited photos that I can’t decide on which one I prefer, and then I just play with the overlay percentage to get a little bit of both tones/colors in the images.

Download Image Blender here.

Big Lens

This is probably the best app for achieving a DSLR look in regards to bokeh. You can apply subtle and heavy bokeh looks to any images to create a depth of field that is usually only achieved with an actual DSLR or film camera. It’s amazing what you can achieve with this app – perfect for portraits to create emphasis on your subject.

Download Big Lens here.


One of the more popular features on a DSLR is long-exposure nighttime shots that create a dreamy light trail. It’s also good in low-light situations but for both occasions, you have to have a tripod adapter for your phone. I use a Glif tripod mount & stand that easily catches onto my DSLR tripod, it’s super small and easy to carry around and install onto your tripod. If you add on a sandbag or something heavy to your tripod to reduce shake, you can truly achieve some high-quality-long exposure shots with an iPhone.

Take your final photo into Snapseed and tune the image to get a high quality DSLR look.

Download Slowshutter here.


My go-to app for low-light situations and nighttime photography. This is similar to Slowshutter in the sense that it ultimately keeps the shutter of the camera open, but this allows a little bit more control for low-light situations and nighttime photography. You choose the number of photos you want the camera to take, and then the app will overlay all the photos and compress them into a single image, resulting in more detail and light that the native camera on the iPhone would not be able to achieve. It’s like setting your DSLR lens to 1.4 for low-light situations. But you also need a tripod and no shaking!

Download AvgCamPro here.

Final Thoughts

Overall, achieving a DSLR look is more than possible on your iPhone. Aside from the benefit of the high-quality built-in camera, the apps available allow full control on editing all aspects of your image as you would on your computer with Lightroom or Photoshop. Of course, it won’t be quite as good as a DSLR but it can still fool many people.

The best feature on the native iPhone camera is the AE/AF lock, and tapping on darks/whites of an image to allow the camera to reprocess the ISO and focus. It goes without saying, you don’t get the full control/customization as a manual DSLR but this can make a huge difference in your photo from being extremely washed-out in bright situations to too dark in low-light situations. It’s just an extra little touch on the iPhone camera that brings your images that much closer to looking and feeling like a DSLR.

Vancouver-born, Berlin-based writer, photographer and editor with a steady hand on the keyboard.