- Easily browse and adjust your photos with a single tap using Auto Correct
- Tweak your photo to perfection with Tune Image
- Use Selective Adjust to enhance specific objects or areas in your photos
- Experiment with fun and innovative features like Drama, Vintage, Grunge, and Center Focus
- Add Borders for incredible finishing touches
- Email your creations or share them on Facebook and Flickr
Being the avid iPhone photographer I am, I currently have about 35 photography applications that reside on the device. I have dozens that have been “retired” as well. All of them serve their own purpose and typically suit my needs well. I generally find myself opening photos in anywhere from 2-5 applications in order to post process and share on the web. At times, I will even edit some of my DSLR shots in these applications as well. It gives me something to do on long trips, and I always enjoy pushing the limits of the iPhone’s editing capabilities.
Recently, I was stalking the app store for a new application and I came across Snapseed. This application comes to the App Store via Nik Software, a leading developer of photographic, post processing software for desktop computers. Being familiar with Nik Software and their U Point technology, I cannot begin to explain how excited I was to find an application from their team. Expectations were high, and Snapseed did not disappoint.
Snapseed uses the revolutionary U Point technology to create stunning images with ease. This is the same technology used in Nik’s Software, such as Silver Efex Pro 2, now available on a mobile platform. This, to me, is nothing short of amazing. Although the algorithms are not quite as exceptional when compared to its desktop counterpart, Snapseed is advanced far beyond its competitors and they are just getting started.
Nik Software has done a beautiful job at keeping the interface free of clutter and super intuitive. This application is choc-full of features which are simple to access and use. For a good idea of what this app is capable of, I will be including some photos edited with Snapseed at the end of this post. Right now, I would like to take a walk through the features with you, so you get a good understanding of how powerful this application is.
Upon opening the application, in portrait mode, you will see a sample image front and center. This image is actually available to edit. It is a good way to get to know the application before tweaking your own images. Above that image, in the left corner, is the “Open” button. To capture an image for editing with your camera, or to load an image from your library, tap this button. Once you have taken or chosen an image, it will load in place of the sample image. It is now ready for editing. As a personal preference, I prefer to edit my photos in landscape mode, although portrait mode obviously works better for portrait layouts. When I rotate my phone, to engage landscape mode, all icons for editing shift to a panel to the left of my image. All together there are 11 options to choose from, the first of which is the “Automatic” function.
When you choose the “Automatic” function, Snapseed makes a color correction as well as contrast correction to your image applied at 50%. To increase the strength of one or both of these, slide your finger to the right. To decrease, slide left. To access one correction or the other, swipe your finger up or down on the screen. To accept any edits that you have made, tap the arrow at the bottom right side of your screen. If you wish to return to the main menu without accepting your changes, tap the left arrow. To compare the original image before edits were made, tap the photo icon in the top right corner. The question icon in the top left corner provides you with an overlay for each screen and how to operate its functions. All options for all editing tools are accessed in this manner, so we will not refer back to these instructions moving forward.
Other options for editing include;
- Tune Image: Adjust brightness, ambiance, contrast, saturation and white balance for the entire image.
- Straighten: Provides the user with a means for straightening the image so that horizons are straight/level. Excellent tool if perhaps you snapped a quick shot to capture a moment, but the image is slightly crooked.
- Crop: Supports free crop, 1:1, DIN, 3:2, 4:3, 5:4, and 16:9. All aspect ratios can be rotated for landscape or portrait oriented cropping.
- Black & White: Converts your image to grayscale and gives you control over brightness, contrast and grain. Six preset styles are accessible via the star icon located at the bottom of the screen.
- Vintage: Applies a vintage preset to your image. You are given control over brightness, saturation, texture strength and center size. Access 9 presets from the star icon at the bottom of the screen or select different textures to apply by tapping the square “layer” icon also located at the bottom of the screen. You can also shuffle the properties for random results which are then capable of being edited.
- Drama: Creates instant dramatic change to your photograph. Changing the preset style and adjusting its applied strength can give your photo a subtle face lift or major augmentive surgery.
- Grunge: Applies a destroyed, grunge preset that can be customized by adjusting style, brightness, contrast, texture strength and saturation. You can also choose from 5 textures to apply or shuffle for random results.
- Center Focus: Also known as tilt-shift. Provides a center point which is able to be moved anywhere in the photograph. You have control over the size of the center point as well as the strength of blur which is applied to all space outside of the center point.
- Frames: Choose from 8 preset frames, shuffle, or take control by adjusting the frame width and frame offset.
Selective Adjust is the last option we will review because, well, you are always supposed to save the best for last…right?
Selective Adjust: If you are at all familiar with Nik Software and their amazing implementation of U Point technology into their desktop apps, then get excited! Now the same powerful technology is available on the iPhone [and iPad] at a fraction of the cost. If you are not familiar, let’s take a look at it. After secting “Selective Adjust” tap the “+” at the bottom of the screen and then tap anywhere on the image to add a control point to it. You will notice, initially, a blue circle around the control point. This indicates the circumference of the affected, editable, area. Swiping up or down on the image will reveal the options for your control point: Brightness, contrast and saturation. If you wish to see exactly what tones are being affected by the edit, pinch or zoom ever so slightly. A red mask of sorts will appear and indicate what is being edited. This is conveniently the same way to adjust the size of the control point. So, as you are adjusting brightness, contrast and saturation, only the area that the control point covers is being affected. If you wish to duplicate a control point, tap on the desired control point and select “copy” from the pop-up menu. Now tap the image and select paste. Fine tune by adjusting the placement of the point or making any additional edits. By tapping a control point, you can also cut, paste, delete or reset a control point. You can add as many as 8 control points to an image before you are forced to delete or accept changes. If you accept the changes, you can then select “Selective Adjust” and add more control points as needed. If at any time, the control points displayed become a distraction to you while viewing the image, just tap the “eye-con” at the bottom of the screen to view the image without control point overlays. This feature has truly changed the game as far as editing photos on the iPhone or iPad.
Once all edits are complete, return to the home screen and tap the export icon at the top right. From here you can save to your library, email, print, share on Flickr or share on Facebook.
Although this has quickly become my favorite and most frequently used editing application, there are a few things this app seems to be lacking and I would love to see:
- An undo option: Sometimes you just want to undo the previous edit without reverting to the original image.
- More presets, frames and textures: Especially frames. Most of them seem to have a grunge effect applied to them, where as I really would rather have a simple white or black frame to choose from. It would be beyond spectacular to have the ability to customize frame colors.
- I would love to see the same “Structure” option added to the control points in “Selective Adjust” as the ones used in Nik’s desktop software. Structure is like a sharpen option on steroids. The algorithm is amazing and maintains the integrity of the detail in your images. If Nik could find a way to implement that feature, I’d more than likely write them a love letter.
Buyer beware: If you are a consumer who does not want pinpoint control over your images, you instead want an app with tons of “fun” filters, this may not be a good buy for you. This app is more focused on fine tuning an image to create what you saw in your mind’s eye when you snapped the shot.
All that said, Nik, your applications are so phenomenal, providing a level of control over your images that is unprecedented. Snapseed is no exception. Great job. I will be recommending this app to a lot of people. Worth every penny.
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