The best photo editing tools
Best Photo Editing Tools: Snapseed by Nik Software
This cool app was recently acquired by Google and made available on Android devices. Named iPad app of the year for 2011, Snapseed is surprisingly easy to use and manages to preserve the quality and size of your image even after multiple edits.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Snapseed is the ease with which even a novice user can manipulate images, beyond just applying simple filters or effects. Snapseed allows you to crop, straighten and even pinpoint areas of a photograph you’d like to alter. Intro screens for each feature make the app simple to learn and fun to play with. And the pros like it, too. “I love the editing tools in Snapseed,” says Cathaleen Curtiss, photojournalist, visual media consultant and master of the smartphone camera.
“If you need to sharpen an image, it does not pixelate the reds or yellows," Curtiss explains. "I find, even in Photoshop Express, that happens often and really impacts the integrity of the image.” That’s huge for the everyday photographer, for whom the Photoshop suite of products is perhaps the best-known editing tool in their arsenal.
Best Photo Editing Tools Honorable Mention: Photoshop Express by Adobe Systems
As easy to use as the desktop version, Photoshop Express is the go-to app for many a photo enthusiast. Even if it’s not her first choice for editing on her iPhone, Curtiss uses Photoshop Express frequently to add her signature border to all her images after getting every pixel perfect with Snapseed’s convenient tools.
Best Artistic Filters: Photo Art by Fun Factory
This is one of those apps that can eat hours out of your day, as you play with more than two dozen effects and filters, painting them into specific areas of your photo or applying them to the entire image. If your cat has been particularly evil, drop in a black and white filter and paint her eyes red as the devil’s! Then drive your point home by sharing the image across multiple platforms, from Twitter to Google+.
Although Photo Art is an Android-exclusive app, there are plenty of comparable products out there, like ColorStrokes, which is geared for iOS and offers many of the same features. And while Curtiss prefers to keep her images as “true to reality” as possible, she does admit to playing around a bit with apps like these: “ColorStrokes is fun if you want to paint out color in portions of your images — for example … having a pet in black and white and its collar/scarf in color.”
Best Artistic Filters Honorable Mentions: Pixlr-o-Matic by Autodesk Inc. and Hipstamatic by Hi
According to Curtiss, these apps are great for “when you just have to add … vintage filters." California-based photog Euan Rannachan shares Curtiss’ urge to lay off the altering and effects: “Less is more. The more you doctor an image, in most cases, it tends to look a bit fabricated. I find I never use more than three filters.” Still, if you simply cannot resist slapping that Polaroid or toy camera filter on Rover’s mug, Pixlr and Hipstamatic are two easy, go-to apps that will get the job done.
Best Photo Collage: Photo Grid by RoidApp
Have so many great pet photos you can’t pick just one to share? Then Photo Grid is the app for you. Supported by both Android and iOS, Photo Grid lets you combine multiple images in endless arrangements for an animal collage worthy of any Facebook wall or Tumblr. There are fun borders — themed, holiday borders if the season so moves you — effect filters and a neat randomizing function whereby simply shaking your phone rearranges the images you’ve selected for your collage.
Honorable Mention: Pano by Debacle Software
Now standard on iPhone 5 and available for Android, Pano allows you to take amazing panoramic images right from your phone. This is the only app we’re highlighting that’s not free — it’s going for $3.06 on Google Play — but it’s worth the small investment. “It’s a fantastic app that I find works the best [for panoramic images] and one that people ask me about a lot,” Rannachan says.
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