App review: Snapseed. An update

A day with Snapseed

Previously I wrote about Snapseed, an iPad photo editing app and after using it rather intensively today, I thought I should do an update of my entire experience, from shooting to finishing.

Here’s what transpired today.

I was shooting for my friend’s wedding today with my Nikon D90, saving RAW+JPEG images. After the shoot, I went to Starbucks with my iPad and iPad Camera Connection Kit (the connector that allowed me to import photos from my SD card). So I plugged in the SD card and imported all photos (RAW+JPEG) into the camera library. The first irritation (not Snapseed’s, but the import utility’s) was the inability to select all photos then unselect a certain number of photos; I could only select those I want or import all.

After a while, all the imported photos will go into the Last Imported album. There, I’d review all the photos by swiping them, and delete those that aren’t too good. These is my first cut.

When the first cut is done, I’d max up the brightness on my iPad before firing up Snapseed. This is to allow me to see the colors better, and also prevent over brightening of photos. Once in Snapseed, I’d Open the first file from the Last Import album. After the file (JPEG, not RAW) is in, I’d run Auto Correct then Tune Image. The former usually corrects the contrast and color, but tends to make the color a little too green, and the brightness a little too high so do adjust accordingly. From there, I’d then do all the funky edits and filters.

I took about 2 hours to review over 200 photos and edit (after the first cut) 80 of them. They are now sitting in my iPad Camera Roll, awaiting my extract of them via Image Capture (on the Mac) when I return home.

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Here’s some limitations of the app that I came across.

Cropping

Cropping is great but fine/precise movements are a little difficult since it’s gesture-based and my fingers ain’t that skinny. Then again, precise movements on the iPad is almost impossible due to the nature of the capacitive screen. However, that wasn’t the biggest frustration about cropping. The thing I’d like to see in Snapseed is the addition of fixed ratios for cropping. I wanted to do a square crop but since the grid was free form, I couldn’t get a square. The best I did was to use a ruler and try measure the grid on-screen to get a square.

Center Focus

Center Focus is a nifty filter that allows you to choose a point to be focused upon. How the app does it is to blur and brighten/darken the surroundings depending on your setting. One irritation is that the filter blurs the sides always, and there’s no way to turn it off. This is an irritation if I want to do a vignetting but not a lens blur, for the filer automatically adds in the blur for me. One (sort of) way of working around it is to darken the whole picture in Tune Image, then using Selective Adjust brighten the center. However, this is not the best because Selective Adjust is applied to objects in the picture and not the whole picture. Same applies for Grunge filter as well – inability to remove blur.

Revert

Revert allows you to remove all changes and work from your original file. However, what if I want to undo something I’ve done previously? There is no way because there is no edit history. Hence, if you ran like 4 filters only to hate the last one (but applied it already), you have to redo the first 3 again.

No…

This is not really an irritation, but I would like to be able to work with curves, RAW, and have sharpening adjustments. Selective sharpening for eyes would be great! Let’s hope they add it in further updates.

One more thing

One very important thing to take note for Snapseed or any photo editing app on the iPad is that the iPad screen is not calibrated. On our computers, we can calibrate the screens using tools like SpyderPro but not for the iPad. I mean, sure, Datacolor released an app to calibrate the iPad screen, but it’s only calibrated within the app; elsewhere it’s still native. Hence, after editing, it’s good to verify the colors on a color calibrated machine, be it on your computer or within Datacolor’s iPad app.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, Snapseed is still a great tool to work with and I see it replacing Photoshop for me most of the time. Granted it cannot do cloning, healing brush, text etc, but one must remember that it is a editing tool, not an enhancement tool. I would see it as a replacement for most people, especially hobbyists, and an add-on for many others. Do give it a spin if you haven’t!

p.s. for those who are wondering, the Drama filter is really a HDR filter (to me).

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Further readings:

iPad Camera Connection Kit

My original review on Snapseed can be found here.

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