|Nik's Snapseed for Mac brings all the best bits of the popular iOS application to Mac and PC desktops|
Photo editing software maker Nik has been making applications and plug-ins for digital photographers with deep pockets for years. Their collection of plugins for Aperture, Lightroom, and Photoshop costs a whopping $599 but their reputation is as grand as their price tags. Their Efex Pro editing series has earned the praise of both professionals and hobbyists looking to make their photos pop.
Following the release of Snapseed for iOS in 2011, Nik has started venturing into the more affordable stand-alone applications. PC and Mac versions of the Snapseed were announced earlier this year, and the Mac version quickly became one of the biggest selling Photo editors in the App Store. At $19.99, it costs $5 more than Apple’s iPhoto but is still much cheaper than Aperture and Photoshop Elements and $4 cheaper than CameraBag 2. The PC version costs exactly the same amount.
We're testing the Mac version here, and the first thing that's obvious is how similar Snapseed’s interface is to the mobile version for iOS. It contains all of the tools that iPhone and iPad users have come to rely on such as U-Point technology for precision exposure editing as well as color adjustments and a range of customizable vintage photo effects.
- Cropping, straightening, and rotating tools.
- Depth of field simulators.
- U-Point technology for quick, selective adjustments.
- Customizable lo-fi effects and frames
- Facebook, Flickr, and Email sharing straight from the app
- Adjustable black and white, film grain effects
- Mac OS 10.6.8, 10.7.2, or later
- Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista SP2, and Windows 7 SP1 (or later)
- 2GB RAM or more
- 256MB or more Video RAM
I started in the 'Tune Image' section to make basic adjustments. Here, Snapseed has six, pre-made exposure adjustments - automatic, neutral, dark, bright, balanced, and moody. The auto-effects are visible in the thumbnail. Once you have chosen an effect, you can further adjust the Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, Ambiance, and Warmth of your photo by toggling sliders in the 'Global Adjust' section of the window. (Ambiance seems to be a combination of shadow darkening and color temperature and Warmth is color balance).
The 'Tune Image' section is where you will find Snapseed’s U-Point technology. To use U-Point, you click the 'Add Control Point' option in the panel. Next, you choose the area that you want to affect. I picked the dark background of my portrait. From here, you can change the range of the affected area by clicking on size button below your U-Point. After choosing your area size, you can adjust 'B', 'C', or 'S' - for brightness, contrast, and saturation.
After you have decided on your adjustment, look long and hard at the changes you have made. Once you apply a filter, you cannot Undo just one step, you must start from scratch. You can undo adjustments from within a filter editor, but once you have applied them, you are out of luck if you change your mind. When you are ready, click the 'Apply' arrow on the bottom left of the window. For my 10.1 MB .NEF file, the edits took 10 seconds to go through (5 seconds for a 950 KB .JPEG).
At any point in an editing process, you can take a look at your original photo by clicking the 'compare' icon on the top-right of the screen.
Aside from exposure controls, Snapseed also offers advanced sharpness and contrast adjustments in their 'Details' section. Here, you can change the sharpness and structure of your image.
Cropping and Straightening
After you are finished doing your basic tune-up, it is time to decide exactly how much of your photo is necessary for the composition. In the 'Crop and Straighten' tab, you view your photo in a grid and use either the angle slider or arrows on the corners of the photo to straighten your shot.
Snapseed offers several different focusing features. Its 'Center Focus' tab opens up to six different focusing styles - Blur, Vignette, Old Lens, Foggy, Dark and Bright.
The other option for focusing in Snapseed is the 'Tilt-shift' simulator. Tilt-shift or miniature mimickers are abut as common as the sepia filter in popular camera apps but unlike the added grain and color manipulators, tilt-shifting can insert some drama without turning your photo into a blown-out mess.
For my photo, I first used a 'dark' Center Focus filter before adding a circular tilt-shift layer - each one with the focal point on my model’s nose and the ring of focus ending at the edge of her head. My goal with these filters was to take the focus away from the distracting colored pillar the left of my model.
It would be nice to have the option in one Snapseed’s focusing filters to choose more than one focal point or to use the U-Point technology to choose a focal color instead of just picking one radial spot. I would have liked to just choose my model’s skin tone for a precise, subtle focus, but I was forced to include some surrounding areas.
Lo-Fi and Drama Filters
Cue the groans of a million photo purists. Snapseed offers four filter categories for the digital photographer who pines for the glory days of Holga and Diana.
For my photo, I scaled down the 'Wes' effect in the 'Vintage' filter collection to the point where it was barely noticeable at applied it to add a little spice to my scene.
Once you have finished editing your photo, you can put it in a frame. Snapseed has 10 customizable frames that vary from the simple white stroke line to a jagged and ripped paper imitator.
At any point between filter edits, you can File > Save As and Snapseed will save your photo in the same dimensions that it started at. When you are finished, you can print, or share to the web straight from the app. Snapseed is currently compatible with Facebook and Flickr sharing as well as through email.
Nik has used its expertise in desktop plug-ins to take its affordable mobile app to a new level. Snapseed is easy to use and can produce high-quality edits quickly. It can also be integrated into a workflow centered around Apple Aperture and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (and we can hope iPhoto in the future). I would like to see Nik utilize Snapseed's useful U-Point technology more in the focus and details control though.
The user interface of Snapseed for Mac/PC is extremely similar to the iPad version but has a few welcome changes - for one, you can actually zoom in on your photos - a feature that is frustratingly absent from the iOS version of the app. The app also runs more quickly on a powerful desktop computer, and applying images and saving takes less time on our 27in iMac than it does on a latest-generation iPad. Still missing, unfortunately, is a batch processing feature, but overall Snapseed is a great app when it comes to making your photos unique without having to spend hours in Photoshop or oversimplify your photos in a lo-fi editor.
We like: U-point controls, Aperture and Lightroom integration, thumbnail previews of effects, adjustable lo-fi filters and frames, focus control
We don't like (Relatively) slow processing times for large files, U-Point controls not utilized in some effects.
May 27, 2015
May 22, 2015
Apr 27, 2015
May 28, 2015
|DSC_9643 by NOWHITELENS|
from Best Photo of the Week
|Thailand Sunrise by ozziebadger|
from Ships and Boats
The holidays are coming, but your gear ain't fly? You gotta hit us up and read our treat yo' self guide.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and sitting pretty at #5 is the Fujifilm X-T20.
See some of the most iconic black-and-white photographs throughout history brought to life by a community of colorization enthusiasts and professional retouchers in the new book Retrographic.
Shopping for a photographer? Whether you are one yourself or not, chances are you could use some ideas. From stocking stuffers on up, we've got some photography gift suggestions for every budget.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. Drum roll please... the #6 spot belongs to none other than the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DH HSM Art.
Read the story behind this gorgeous wedding photo captured at Trolltunga in Norway by husband and wife duo Priscila Valentina Photography. The 14 hour hike in the rain that preceded this shot was TOTALLY worth it.
Go behind the scenes with filmmaker Nick Arcivos, who recently created a beautiful cinematic short film in Paris using only the iPhone X, a couple of gimbals, and a few lights. The results are very impressive.
A Bay Area startup offering a pay-by-the-photo camera service cleverly addresses the pain points photographers experience when they pick up their first DSLR. But can it survive the smartphone?
It's been a big year for software innovations, dual cameras and huge displays. Take a look at our picks for the top smartphone cameras and why we think they stand out.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. At the #7 spot is the ready-for-any-weather Olympus Tough TG-5.
By combining his skills as a time-lapse filmmaker and an engineer, Julian Tryba created this out-of-this-world creative 'layer-lapse' of New York City that alternates between night and day in time with the music.
Canon Japan's new lineup of novelty camera-themed gifts was just revealed online, including a lens mug and lens thermos, two retro camera-themed USB drives, and a picnic mat.
The Profoto A1 most certainly isn’t for everyone [...] But for those who are used to using the Profoto systems, and want something that pairs seamlessly with the strobes you already have, there is no better companion.
Fujifilm has asked a US district court to clear it of any wrongdoing, after allegedly being threatened with trademark litigation by Polaroid.
While a couple of our reviewers are out testing the Sony a7R III in Arizona, back in Seattle we slapped the camera in front of our studio scene to get a close look at its image quality. See how it stacks up against the competition.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and the #8 ranking belongs to the Nikon D7500.
B+W has announced a new aluminum filter holder that offers three slots so users can use multiple filters at the same time. The holder goes with the 2mm thick 100mm square filters it launched earlier this year.
8K video is coming a lot faster than you think, and Blackmagic is ready for it. Meet the DeckLink 8K Pro, a new high performance PCI-E capture and playback card built to handle 'real time high resolution 8K workflows.'
"Glass is everywhere in photography. From Eugène Atget’s reflective vitrines to Lee Friedlander’s sly self-portraiture, photographers have long been in thrall to the visual complications glass can inject into a composition."
Former Apple Aperture lead developer Nik Bhatt has designed an iOS app called RAW Power that lets you edit raw photos from your professional camera using your phone and tablet.... color us intrigued.
Advertising photographer Blair Bunting got his hands on the new Microsoft Surface Book 2, and it blew him away. Bye bye MacBook Pro...
The OnePlus 5T retains many of the 5's features and specs, but comes with an edge-to-edge display and a dual-camera that is optimized for low light.
Sony's recently announced IMX461 backside illuminated medium format sensor will bring 100MP resolution and almost 2x the speed to the next-gen Fuji GFX and Hasselblad X1D.
With the ‘Rent a Hasselblad’ camera equipment renting program, the camera makers is aiming to give enthusiast and professional photographers easier access to its medium-format photography products.
They say seeing is believing, and that's exactly what happened when one DPR staffer took the Google Pixel 2 out for an afternoon shooting under challenging conditions.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. At the #9 spot we have the Fujifilm GFX 50S, a medium-format camera that took CP+ 2017 by storm.
Instagram is testing a new feature that lets you follow hashtags in addition to people, making it possible to keep track of your favorite #landscapes or #portraits without leaving your home feed.
Despite the gigantic volume of second hand film bodies in existence, it seems there is still a demand for new 35mm SLRs with a retro feel. The latest is a remake of the Ihagee Elbaflex from the 1960s, but with a Nikon F mount.
The Polaroid Insta-Share Moto Mod straps an instant printer directly to your Moto Z smartphone, so you can print your photos as soon as you've captured them.
The Mitakon Speedmaster 135mm F1.4 lens is being relaunched in 7 different mounts, including: Sony A, Sony E, Canon EF, Nikon F, Fujifilm G, Pentax K, and Leica L. Got an extra three grand lying around?