Photo Editing Apps

By Will Sullivan on November 18, 2010 0 Comments Ideas

Mobile Journalism Reporting Tools Guide

The Basics          
  Photoshop Express Photogene CameraBag Camera Plus Pano Hipstamatic
Cost Free $1.99 $1.99 Free $2.99 $1.99
Size 6.6 MB 4.1 MB 0.2 MB 10.6 MB 2.9 MB 18.8 MB
Mobile Platforms Supported iPhone (iOS 3.0+), Android iPhone (iOS 4.0+) iPhone (iOS 2.0+) iPhone (iOS 2.3+) iPhone (iOS 3.1+) iPhone (iOS 3.1+)
Editing Capabilities Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
Export/Sharing, Facebook, TwitPic Twitter, Facebook, Flickr FTP, Email, Copy to Clipboard, Save to Camera Roll Email, Save to Camera Roll Twitter, Facebook, Email, Flickr, Camera Roll Camera Roll Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr, Email, Camera Roll
Filters Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Recommended? Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Recommended Recommended Not Recommended
Where to buy iTunes App StoreAndroid Market iTunes App Store iTunes App Store iTunes App Store iTunes App Store iTunes App Store
Manufacturer Adobe Systems Inc. Omer Shoor Nevercenter Ltd. Co. Global Delight Technologies Debacle Software Synthetic Corp.
  Camera Genius 3.0 Instagram Photoshop Express
Cost $0.99 Free Free
Size 14.4 MB 6.5 MB 7.2 MB
Mobile Platforms Supported   iOS iOS
Editing Capabilities Yes    
Export/Sharing Email, Clipboard, Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, MobileMe, Twitter, Tumblr Social Media/Email Social Media/Device
Filters Yes    
Recommended? Yes Yes Yes
Where to buy iTunes App Store App Store iTunes App Store
Manufacturer CodeGoo Burbn, inc. Adobe Systems

Photoshop Express

Review by: Jennifer Elston

Adobe Photoshop Express editing interface
Adobe Photoshop Express editing interface

Photoshop Express is a very simple photo editing application for the iPhone. The best thing about this application is that it is free, unlike many of the other photo applications we tested.

There are five buttons along the button of the application: Adobe, Edit, Online, Upload and Settings. Adobe is simply sample photos and links to more effects, tips, etc... The edit tab is what you will probably use most. On the edit tab (see photo right), you can crop, adjust the exposure, saturation, tint, contrast or make the photo black & white. The next button over is used to give the photo effects such as sketch, soft focus or sharpen. The final button on the top row (the stars) allows you to add more effects, such as vibrant, pop, vignette blur, etc... and borders.

Those are your only options, but that should be enough for journalistic uses. The bottom buttons let you cancel, redo/undo and save. Under the save menu, as you can see in the image, you can save and exit, upload (, post to Facebook or TwitPic.

This application is geared for quick edits to photos. To edit a photo, click a type of edit that you want to make, such as Saturation. It will give you a tip (unless you turn them off) on how to best use this edit. For instance, the tip on how to change the saturation says "slowly slide your finger left/right over the image to adjust the saturation level." All you have to do is pinch or push like you would to zoom in/out and the levels will change.

I would definitely recommend this application. It is easy, powerful and free.


Review by: Jennifer Elston

Photogene editing interface
Photogene editing interface

Photogene is easily my favorite photo editing application on the iPhone. It is very simple, yet effective. It does everything that you would want to do to edit your photos in a journalistic function and then some.

The buttons on the side are fairly self-explanatory, but I will briefly go over them. The scissors button is for cropping - simply drag the size of the box you would like and hit crop. The two arrows in the form of a box is for rotating the image. The filter button is the one that looks like an oil filter. This is for more drastic effects such as sharpen, pencil, blur, black & white, posterize, sepia, night vision and heatmap. You can adjust the strength of each of these filters or reset to the original photo. The color wheel button allows you a great deal of control when it comes to color adjusting. You can change the levels (auto levels works wonderfully), the exposure, the colors and the red-green-blue balance of the photo.

The next two buttons are something that you will most likely not use for journalistic function - the star button allows you to add shapes such as a speech bubble and the square allows you to add a border or frame.

If you make a mistake, click on the back or redo arrows, which are the next buttons down. The final button is used to save your edits. You can change the resolution of the photo (200, 320, 640, 800, 1024, 1600, 2048 and 2592 for high resolution images). You can also preserve geotags, and share your image in a variety of ways such as email, FTP, flickr and Facebook. Photogene is only $1.99 and I would highly recommend it!

If you don't take my word, take the word of Glyn Evans, the founder of iPhonegraphy. His website, features all photos shot on mobile devices. This is his opinion of Photogene:

Photogene is like having a desktop photo editor in your pocket, giving you the ability to truly edit your photos on the go, letting you crop, sharpen, straighten, rotate and add frames to your photos, as well as manually or automatically adjust histogram levels, gamma correction, RGB balance, the color temperature and saturation.


Review by: Drew Dumas

A picture made using CameraBag.
A picture made using CameraBag

CameraBag is an extremely easy to use photo application for the iPhone. It uses the built-in camera on the phone to take pictures, so you don't need any extra equipment (although lenses and flashes wouldn't hurt), and it's pretty cheap to buy.

The specialty of this application is to put filters on the pictures you take. There are several different ones, although some, like color cross, I can't see anybody using for professional reasons, and others look very much the same. But there are enough different, useful filters that this application deserves a download and a look.

CameraBag doesn't require that you use the application to take the pictures, and in fact the application works better if you just take the pictures and put them on your camera roll. If you have it open when you're shooting, each picture will open on the camera, and before you take another, you will have to click on the phone to open our camera back up. Instead, you can go out and take your pictures, then upload them to CameraBag.

Either way, once you have your picture, it's a simple process of flicking the screen from side to side to see which filter works best for what you're using. Helga has ended up being my favorite, but really the story would warrant the filter, if you use one at all. Once you’ve chosen, you just have to tap the save button and your picture will be saved to your camera roll, so that you can text, email or upload it like any other picture you take.

In all, the application is a pretty neat little deal. It's certainly something you wouldn't use every time you go into the field, but if you were working on a story that was a bit more featurey than normal, I could certainly see it coming in handy. If you do use it, it's simple and quick, and getting the pictures off your phone is virtually effortless.

Camera Plus

Review by: Amanda Heisey

Camera Plus editing interface
Camera Plus editing interface

I love this application. It's not a fancy app, but it really does good work. All you do is take a picture and the application allows you to make it black and white or crop it. The cropping is probably the best part about this tool. You can choose from a circle or rectangular crop. Then once you get the size you want you can turn the crop any direction you need. There's a zoom capability, but as always, it makes the picture fuzzy, so be careful what you use it for.

You can send the finished picture to your camera roll, or you can send it straight to Facebook, Flickr or Twitter. You can also attach it to an email. It doesn't take long. The application would allow you to cover stories then immediately display your photos on whichever medium you choose. Again, breaking news stories or events would be good places for this. You could live Tweet from an event and add in some pictures of the goings on. There are other applications that act similarly, but it does the job and is trustworthy. Plus, it's free, so it couldn't hurt.

There is an upgrade you can purchase called Camera Plus Pro that allows you a lot more flexibility and options on doctoring photos. Recently, the manufacturer took away the video zoom capability, which has upset many users. If you need video zoom, don't buy this app. Overall though, it looks just as simple as the free version, just with a ton of more options.


New Review for Pano

Review by: Drew Dumas

Pano's panoramic capabilities
Pano's panoramic capabilities

Pano is a pretty simple application for the iPhone designed to take several pictures, piece them together, and form one panoramic shot. Now, the final image isn't perfect, but it’s adequate for both the price of the application as well as what it’s attempting to do.

Firstly, it's extremely simple. You start the application up, let it boot, and then you take your first picture. The icon showing the rectangles lets you choose whether you will be moving your camera vertically or horizontally to take your panoramic. I like horizontal more, simply because I'm usually more focused on what is happening in front of me rather than trying to take in a great height of something.

Once you've taken that first picture, line up the translucent afterimage with the real image on your camera (basically moving it to the side), and then take the next one. You keep doing this until you've got everything you want, and then you hit the check mark. It takes a moment to render, as it places all the images into one coherent line, and then you've got your panoramic

The AI in the application to make your picture is pretty decent. It's by no means perfect, and you'll wind up with a few odd angles, particularly if there are a lot of angles in the area you're shooting, but in all, I couldn't find much to complain about. It didn't look wrong, just a tad off.

As far as actually using this application for journalism, I think you'd be hard pressed to find a way to employ it. The situation would definitely have to warrant it, and unfortunately (it really is, because this thing is nifty), that that just doesn't come around too often. Still, if you find yourself pretending you're a tourist to write a feature about something, consider this before you head out.

New Review for Pano


Review by: Drew Dumas

The adjustable interface of Hipstamatic
The adjustable interface of Hipstamatic

Hipstamatic is my personal least favorite application, which is odd because as far as features for photography (NOT editing) go, versatile barely describes it. Part of the reason I'm so negative is because it takes a lot of getting used to, you really can't jump into it and go. Also, it comes with a pretty bare shelf of features for the money you invested in the application's purchase. How do I get more features, you ask? A dollar at a time, I say.

Open the app and it may take you a moment to orient yourself. You can click the flash to activate the camera's "flash", and it will make the charging noise and take a moment to get set (you can shoot while it charges, the charge is just for aesthetic appearance). The slat on the left will tell you what film you’re using, and you can view your pictures buy tapping on the bottom left.

To get into the meat of this thing, hit the arrow in the bottom right corner. If you're a photographer, it'll take you a moment to realize you're in familiar territory. If you're not, make sure you play with this application for several minutes to figure it out. You can select different films, and by tapping the film you can see the effect it will have. Same for flashes, and then for lenses. Want more choices? Go buy them, cause they don't come free. On this screen, you can also change the quality of your pictures by adjusting the lever in the center of the main screen. Once you've mixed and matched to take the desired style of picture (good luck if you don't have any training, here), go back to the camera taking screen and get after it.

Hipstamatic looks the best. It does. It's got this old timey, film and dark room feel to it, and in theory having the ability to choose all the aspects of your picture taking process would be awesome. And if you know what you're doing and have experience with these tools, then I would imagine it's intriguing. But it's just too complicated for a lot of journalists to take this into the field without any experience using it. You're not going to get an image you can use for news, most likely, because all the "equipment" it comes with will cause all different tints. And even though it's only a dollar each, to spend the money to figure out what does and does not work costs too much cash and time.

There are two details about this program I DID really like. Your photos can be grouped into "stacks" for easy organization. Not a big deal, but it's often overlooked in photo programs, and it's something that makes life easier. Second, Hipstamatic hosts contests, and you can submit your photos to these contests. Not something you would normally do while out in the field, but I'm sure photographers would enjoy the ability to submit their work. I can see this particular feature carrying this application, especially if photographers and Synthetic Corp. (makers of Hipstamatic) take it seriously.

Simply put, Hipstamatic is a cool idea, and has a lot to offer to the feature writers and artists of this world who know how to work a camera. If you don't fit that criteria, steer clear.

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