Monday, 28 January 2013

Can you do serious photo processing on a tablet?

Moored Thames Sailing Barges

Someone on a photography forum asked if it was possible to do photo processing on an iPad. I don't know what software is available for the iPad other than Snapseed but Android has PixlrExpress, Photoshop Touch, AfterFocus, Touch Retouch, and a lot more good photo software, including Snapseed. I was sitting in a WiFi-enabled cafe browsing photography forums at the time so I thought I'd see for myself what is possible.
As well as doing serious photography with my phone I also upload 7 or 8 photos a week to Instagram, Streamzoo, and EyeEm. Since I do this for fun I'm not too fussed about whether the results are good, especially in terms of the technical image quality of the photos. So I thought it was an interesting and useful exercise to see what kind of quality I'd get attempting to edit a 'serious' photo. A great many photo editing apps on Android only save the output image at 800 pixels wide (or less) and don't let you specify the resolution or JPEG compression quality. I've done my research over the last couple of years and I now only use apps that let me save at a resolution that is the same as or near to the phone's native quality of 8MP (3264 x 2448).

I'd taken this photo a month or so back with my Samsung Galaxy S2 smartphone so I copied it to my Nexus 7 tablet using a USB-OTG cable and the Nexus Media Importer app and ran it through Photoshop Touch to crop the original and to get rid of a piece of wall, a large piece of driftwood and a few other distractions. I then loaded it into Snapseed for tone and colour adjustments plus a small bit of sharpening, then into PixlrExpress to add a narrow border. The whole process took little more than 10 minutes. Uploading it to Flickr to link to from the forum took three attempts and about 20 minutes, mainly because of the poor WiFi connection.

The resulting photo is 2448 x 1836 pixels in size and 2,670,777 bytes (2.54MB) and the overall quality of the photo is, in my opinion, of printable quality.

So, can one do serious photo processing on an iPad? I still don't know but I do know you can do it on a 7" Android tablet. What do you think?

Saturday, 19 January 2013

A free all-in-one photo processing tool

Recently, OnOne Software released Perfect Effects 4 Free. It has all of the features of Perfect Effects 4 but with only 70 or so preset effects as opposed to over 400.

However, as all of the functionality of the original software is there, you don't actually need all 400+ effects as you can create your own. All you need is to know how, and you can find out at OnOne University.

Although PE4 is used mostly as a plugin to programs like Lightroom and Photoshop, it also ships as a standalone program, available when you install PE4. It can open raw files as well as JPEGs and PSDs, though with new raw file formats you might need to convert the file first. It saves the result out as a layered PSD (Photoshop) file, a TIFF, a JPEG, or a PNG.

With basic effects comprising Black and White, Blur, Borders, Color Enhancer, Duotone, Glow, Photo Filter, Sharpening, Texturizer, Tone Enhancer, and Vignette, all of which can be applied to stackable layers, creating your own presets is very easy.

Built into PE4 is Perfect Layers which gives you a layered environment like Photoshop that gives you cropping and transforming tools, a masking brush and their proprietary masking bug, as well as a retouch brush.
Oh, and did I say it's free? You can download it now here.

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