Snapseed in Review – Moving mountains for online photographers

If you needed better encouragement to buy Snapseed than an enthusiastic TouchMyApps review, I can think of no better endorsement than Apple’s own knighting of Nik Software’s Snapseed as iPad app of the year 2011.

But if you need a second opinion – and after a long time with Snapseed, I feel that my opinion is valid – mine is simple. Buy it. That’s it. Snapseed is the perfect companion app for frequent Facebook and frantic Flickr photographers. The reason for this isn’t the very decent uploading interface, but its ergonomic input system.

With the exception of the loupe, Snapseed’s interface is contained fully in swiping, sliding, and tapping. To adjust a parameter up, swipe to the right anywhere on the screen; swiping to the left adjusts the parameter down. To select between different parameters such as contrast, brightness, or filter strength, swipe up or down. It’s simple. It’s foolproof, and it’s not too sensitive. Some apps make it near impossible to return values to null. One of them is another favourite of mine, Photogene for iPad. Why? The sliders are too small and don’t allow manual, aka numerical input. Snapseed, too, lacks numerical input, but its sliders are massive, and thankfully, invisible. Returning a parameter to null just means chomping down on your tongue for few seconds, and swiping carefully.

There are dozens of app-like adjustments on the main screen, all adjusted in the same way. If you want to adjust typical parameters, go into tune image. My most frequently used adjustments are: tune image, auto correct, crop, straighten and rotate, vintage film, black and white, details, and if I’m feeling quirky, centre focus, which imitates somewhat well, free-lensing, if not tilt-shift.

I like Snapseed so much that it has all but replaced Photogene for editing tasks. Why? The vignettes better simulate real lenses, and fade to black better. The interface is cleaner, and fast. The built-in textures are good, and applying them to decent effect is easy.

There are a few things not to like, however. One of them is the jpeg export engine. It is fast, yay, but not as detailed as the one in Photogene. It also doesn’t export full res on the iPad 1 like Photogene does, and if you are into printing your jpegs, you may notice unnatural colour shifts on heavily edite files. (Yes, yes, I’m on an iPad 1 and I haven’t qualms (or cash) enough to change it out.) And, when exporting, even though you can tag and send easily enough, re sampling to lower resolutions isn’t possible.

The only other thing I would love is a Snapseed version of Photogene’s library, where instead of browsing photo by photo, you can browse all photos at once and see which have been Snapseeded and which haven’t. For now, I simply edit in Snapseed, and export through Photogene.

And if you are unsure of whether or not the iPad is a worthy photographers tool, don’t. It does its job of transportation well. It is small and displays photos well for clients or just for uploading onto the Internet. The surprise for me was that several well-known and mostly respected landscape stock agencies approached me for my photographs. Of the recent requests, Snapseed-edited photos represented the bulk. Whoopee.

So, with the few quibbles mentioned above, I’m ready to endorse Snapseed. It is funner than Photogene, has some great effects, and if you don’t go overboard, can make pleasing files even for stock agencies. For Internet uploading, it is a no-brainer.

Here is my Snapseed-dedicated Flickr thread.

Kiss It Rating - 5/5

App Summary
Title: Snapseed Developer: Nik Software, Inc.
Reviewed Ver: Min OS Req: 4.2
Price: $4.99 App Size:
  • Simple, touch-friendly interface
  • Fast editing
  • Rock solid stability
  • Very easy to apply artistic or vintage effects
  • Universal app
  • Jpeg output only
  • Jpeg output quality trails that of other leading photo apps
  • Unlike Photogene, no Lightroom-like non-destructive edits and restores.


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