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Snapseed Review: Most powerful Photo editing app in the App Store?

If you read my last review about Instagram, you’re quite aware of how much I love the app. It’s easy to use and incredibly fun to experiment with. That being said, you are kind of limited in what you can do with your photographs (though that isn’t always a bad thing).

Enter Snapseed, from the folks at Nik Software.

Snapseed is a powerful photo editor for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, packaged in a dead simple way that minimizes the confusion and intimidation many amateur photographers experience.

In a lot of ways, Snapseed for iPhone and iPad is comparable to iPhoto, in that you are given easy to use tools to adjust your photos, including color, exposure, cropping, straightening, and tuning, as well as adjusting saturation, contrast, and white balance.

If these features are too much for you or a little intimidating and you’re not sure what to do with them, you can also add some vintage over-lays to your photos, á la Instagram. While there aren’t as many options as Instagram, these work just fine, in my opinion.

Here’s a great run down of Snapseed’s features:

Basic Adjustments

• Take Photos – Open photos from the Camera Roll or take new photos.

•Auto Correct – Automatically analyzes your photo and adjusts color and exposure to perfection.

• Selective Adjust – Make precise selections and enhancements to specific areas of your photos in seconds with Nik Software’s revolutionary U Point technology.

• Tune Image – Use Ambience to create depth and vibrancy that uniquely adapts to colors and textures. Adjust White Balance, Saturation, Contrast, more.

• Straighten & Rotate – Rotate 90° and/or straighten photos with simple gesture controls.

• Crop – Easily crop images to remove distracting parts of your photo, now with standard aspect ratios.


• Black & White – Get that classic Black and White look with this darkroom-inspired filter.

• Vintage Films – Make any photo look like a vintage color film photo from the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s.

• Drama – Add style with a custom effect specifically tailored to your photos, ranging from subtle textures to wildly artistic effects.

• Grunge – Give your photos a totally unique, hip, and dingy look.

• Tilt-Shift – Create a narrow in-focus area designed to simulate depth of field, common in a Miniature Scene look.

• Details – Enhance details with traditional sharpening or the unique Structure control found in the Nik Software professional products.

• Center Focus – Draw attention to the subject of your photo by blurring the surrounding background.

• Organic Frames – Add stylized borders to photos for the perfect finishing touch.


• Email – Send images at original resolution.

• Social – Share on Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter (using iOS5).

• Print – Print wirelessly using Apple’s AirPrint technology

Now I consider myself to be a novice when it comes to photography, so the Auto Correct feature is a life saver in my book. It allows me to easily adjust the photo’s color and contrast setting without having to worry about what effects this might have on other aspects of my photo.

With Selective adjustment, you have the ability to do exactly what its name implies: select an area (or areas) of a photo and adjust them manually. For instance, if I have a photo of myself and three of my friends, it’s quite possible that I can adjust the saturation, contrast, and brightness of all of our faces to varying degrees. This gives the user even more control over what they want to do with the photo, and that can never be a bad thing.

Most of the other features are straightforward and highly simple to use. All you have to do is swipe up/down to select the enhancement of your choosing, and then swipe left/right to adjust said enhancement. This provides an intuitive feel to the app’s capabilities, and allows you to see your adjustments in real time.

As for the enhancements, they’re just as simple to use. Want to apply a tilt-shift effect? Just tap the icon and adjust with two fingers how big you want the effect to be, where you want it on the photo, and voilá, you’re good to go.

One feature that is incredibly useful is the ability to dump RAW images from a camera via Apple’s Camera Connection Kit. The drawback to this, though, is that you need an iPad 2 or an iPhone 4/4S.

Nik also says that the app will work with images up to 16 megapixels on these devices, so you have the opportunity for some serious photo editing right on your mobile device. If you don’t have these most current devices, you are relegated to 6.25 megapixels or lower and RAW image processing will not be available to you.

While experimenting with it on my iPhone, it quickly became apparent to me that I was utilizing one of the most powerful photo editing apps on the market. The ease of use with which I was afforded by Snapseed made it a fun and worthwhile experience.

It comes with a fairly hefty price tag at $4.99, but there’s a reason why Apple labeled the Snapseed as its Rewind iPad App of the Year. You get an amazing amount of capability out of that 5 bucks, while on the flip side you might pay 6x’s that amount for other comparable editing software programs for the Mac. For all that you get for that kind of price, I’d be hard pressed to find another photo editing app as good as Snapseed.

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