Although hardly a household name, Nik has been making software for digital photographers for years. The chances are, if you're a keen photographer, that you will have come across its range of Photoshop and Apple Aperture plugins, and it is Nik's technology that drives Capture NX/NX2 - Nikon's flagship image manipulation software. The unique selling point of Nik's software is the company's U Point technology, which allows you to make precise exposure, contrast and color adjustments to various user-defined control points in an image.
Nik's plugins have an excellent reputation, but they're not cheap. Two of the most popular: Silver Efex Pro 2 and Viveza 2, cost $199 each, and the complete collection, which contains all of Nik's various plugins for Photoshop, Lightroom and Apple Aperture, costs $599 - not much less than Photoshop CS5.
At first glance then, the price of Nik's new Snapseed application for the Apple iPad looks like a typo. At $4.99, Snapseed is by far Nik's cheapest payware, even if it is one of the more expensive photography apps on the market right now. For that price you get U Point exposure, contrast and saturation control, as well as more conventional cropping and rotational adjustments, plus a range of effects filters and frames. On paper at least, Snapseed is impressively well-featured.
Nik Snapseed: Key Features
- U Point technology for precise selective exposure and color adjustments
- Universal white balance, saturation, brightness, ambience adjustments via 'Tune Image' palette
- Rotate, crop and straighten tools
- Black and White adjustment with customizable grain and contrast filters
- Customizable 'grunge', 'drama' and 'vintage films' effects filters
- Auto Correct function for quick auto-adjustment of color and exposure
- Share and print finished images wirelessly straight from iPad
Step 1: Importing and opening your photographThe photograph I want to work on is currently sitting on a memory card, so the first step is to import it into my iPad's 'camera roll'. I did this using Apple's optional Camera Connection Kit.
Step 2: Basic AdjustmentsBefore delving into more specific, targeted enhancements I want to make a couple of quick adjustments to this image, just to liven it up a little.
Step 3: Targeted Adjustments
The basis of Nik's success as a creator of plugins for Adobe Photoshop and Apple Aperture is its U Point technology. Put simply, U Point allows you to define specific 'target' points in an image, and pin specific adjustments to these points. In Snapseed, by defining a control point you are creating an automatic mask, with a radius or 'sphere of influence' that you can determine by pinching the iPad's screen. The control points (and their associated adjustment masks) can be moved freely around an image. All this happens smoothly, without any 'lag'.
You can make three different types of adjustment - brightness, saturation and contrast, and all three parameters can be tweaked from a single control point.
|After placing a control point, you can adjust its radius by pinching the iPad's screen. When you do this, the masked area is highlighted in red.||I want to darken the background slightly and increase the warmth of my subject's face, which is in direct sunlight. To that end, I have placed three control points - from left to right, B (brightness), S (saturation) and C (contrast) and adjusted all of them accordingly.|
Step 4: Fun with Filters
No self-respecting photography app would be complete without a range of effects filters, and Snapseed is supplied with plenty. Between the 'Grunge', 'Drama' and 'Vintage Films' controls there is a lot of scope for experimentation, and the intensity of all the filter effects can be fine-tuned if you don't like the 'off the peg' look.
Here, I've applied a basic 'Drama 1' filter. This has evened out the tones in my image without quite approaching HDR territory, and a slight increase in saturation reemphasizes the cool tones that I really like in the background of the original image. For the sake of exploring all of the available options I experimented with the various styles in the 'Vintage Films' palette, using a 'shuffle' button positioned in the bottom toolbar (which applies styles at random), then adjusted texture strength, saturation and contrast until I got the look I was after.
Like the Black and White and Drama effects, Vintage Films are selected from a small 'Style' selection menu, but to select from the 1500 possible 'Grunge' filters you have to either swipe horizontally across the image (which scrolls through them one by one) or hit the 'shuffle' icon in the toolbar.
It is worth noting at this point that presumably for the sake of operational speed, Snapseed does not support zooming, so the effects of texture strength adjustments are rather hard to judge accurately on the relatively small on-screen preview image. This can also be problematic when adding grain to images from within the Black and White adjustments palette.
Step 5: Adding a frame and finishing up
At this point, my street portrait is starting to look a little overworked, but for the purposes of this review, I'm going to go one step further and add a frame effect. First though, I want to crop my image slightly to tighten up the composition. Cropping in Snapseed is very straightforward - in the crop palette you simply adjust the crop by pulling in the corners of the frame, drag the frame to your desired position and press 'apply'. Snapseed's crop tool looks, and works, a lot like equivalent tools in more fully-featured desktop editing software like Photoshop, but at present, the crop is 'free'. We'd like to see an option to pre-select different aspect ratio crops.
Frames can be added from the 'Organic Frames' palette - like the Grunge filter effects, there are too many frames to select using a simple drop-down menu. Instead, you must hit the 'shuffle' button to preview them one by one. I counted more than 30 frames, but the differences between many of them are subtle. Frame width and offset can be adjusted by swiping vertically on the image then horizontally, left-right. Like all such adjustments in Snapseed, these interactions with the iPad's capacitive touch screen are very smooth with no lag or stuttering.
|Cropping images is very easy, simply drag in the corners of the crop, and drag it around the image as desired.||The final touch for my street portrait is an 'organic' frame. Offset and width can both be adjusted using horizontal swipes on the screen.|
In terms of sheer versatility, Snapseed is one of the best photography apps that I've used on any mobile platform, and treads the line between professional and amateur-focussed functionality very well.
If you're serious about photo editing, you'll appreciate the U Point technology, and the fine-grained control over key adjustment parameters. If, on the other hand, you only use your iPad to prepare snapshots for uploading to the web, you'll love the ease with which you can apply fun creative effects to your images, and the speed with which you can send them on their way, via the integrated Facebook and Flickr uploaders. On an iPad 2, Snapseed is extremely quick and very smooth in operation, too. The only action that takes longer than a moment is opening large image files to begin editing, but even this is achieved in a couple of seconds.
At $4.99, Snapseed is a steal, but there are a couple of things we'd like to see included in future updates. Like many photography applications, Snapseed is hamstrung slightly by the fact that you can't zoom into images to see the pixel-level effects of your adjustments. This isn't a problem most of the time, but when adding texture effects and grain filters, it does mean that you have almost no idea about how images will actually look close-up until they've been saved.
We'd also love to see some batch editing functionality added, but right now, it seems churlish to complain. In its current form Snapseed is a must-have photography app, and Nik should be congratulated for making its first iteration so effective, and so much fun to use.
|Snapseed for iPad | Nik Software | $4.99 (£2.99/€3.99)|
|Good balance of fun and serious tools, lots of filters and frames to play with, plenty of control over adjustments using U Point and intensity controls, quick operation (on iPad2), built-in Flickr, Facebook integration|
We don't like:
|No zoom control means that pixel-level adjustments (like grain and texture effects) are hard to preview, no batch processing|
Jun 13, 2014
Jun 12, 2014
Jun 13, 2014
Jun 13, 2014
TIME Magazine has named the Sony a7R III one of its top 10 gadgets of 2017. It was the only camera that made the illustrious list this year, receiving high praise from TIME, who dubbed it "one of the best mirrorless cameras ever made."
Thanks to Google Assistant integration, the Pixel 2's AI-powered 'Google Lens' camera feature will soon be easier and quicker to use.
Photographer Jenna Martin and her model friend Rachelle Kathleen set themselves a challenge: could they create beautiful portraits in an 'ugly' location? So they went to a local Lowe's hardware store and gave it a go!
The LG V30 differentiates itself from the competition with an expansive video feature set and a secondary wide angle camera, making it something of a Swiss Army knife for content creators.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. Holding down the top position is none other than the Nikon D850 – by a landslide.
It's been twenty years since Jeff Keller founded the Digital Camera Resource Page, one of the first websites dedicated to digital photography. Jeff, who has been at DPReview for nearly five years, looks back at the rise and fall of consumer digital cameras and his website.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. At #2 we have another staff favorite – the Sony Alpha a9.
Rotolight has released the Anova Pro 2 circular LED for stills and video, boasting a 70% increase in brightness and what the company describes as "unrivaled battery performance."
Designer Vinicius Araújo has imagined what he believes the perfect Adobe software keyboard might look like. From customizable touch pads, to a scroll wheel, to a little display that shows the tool in use, his design is pretty compelling.
Peak Design has teamed up with Leica to release a limited-edition backpack made special for fans of the Red Dot.
A portrait of an android woman has beaten over 5,700 pictures of humans to take third place in this year’s prestigious Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize. The judges were not told the subject was an 'android' until after the winning images were chosen.
Hauling around C-Stands just got a whole lot less annoying thanks to these new Matthews shoulder and roller bags, which can hold two or three C-stand (respectively) plus accessories.
Neal Preston has shot timeless photos of everyone from Led Zeppelin, to Whitney Houston, to Michael Jackson. In this interview, he offers insights into his craft to up-and-comer Elijah Dominique.
Future prosumer Canon DSLRs might feature light-up buttons, if this newly published patent is any indication of the camera company's plans.
Sony's a7R Mark III shoots 42.4MP files at 10fps and incorporates a robust video feature set, large battery, refined ergonomics and more. It certainly looks impressive, but what is it like to use, and how does it stack up against the rest of the market? Find out in our full review.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017 – the Fujifilm X100F takes the bronze and the #3 spot.
There's never been a better time to shop for a new camera, but the number of options available can be overwhelming. In this series of buying guides we've provided customized recommendations for several use cases, from shooting landscapes to buying a first camera for a student photographer.
Shopping for a camera with a set budget? No problem! We've rounded up our favorite cameras, broken them into price brackets and picked the best of the bunch.
Looking for a lightweight compact camera that's easy to bring with you anywhere? Or maybe you're smartphone-shopping and want the one that takes the best picture. And what if you want to shoot from above? In these buyers guides we have recommendations for the best compact cameras, smartphones and drones.
Despite reports to the contrary, analysis of DPReview images by our friend Jim Kasson confirms a disappointing fact: Sony a7R III is still a Star Eater. But there may be some improvements.
As the saying goes: A photo is worth a thousand words. And if you're sending that photo through Facebook Messenger, your thousand words now look twice as nice after today's update to 4K resolution.
Get to know the new Leica CL in short order by giving our 90 second 'First look' video a watch.
Leica has just released the CL, the forth in its series of APS-C L-mount cameras. Despite sharing a name with a camera released in the mid-70s, the new CL is a thoroughly modern ILC, with a 24MP sensor and built-in electronic viewfinder.
The Leica CL is a 24MP rangefinder-style mirrorless camera, which sits alongside the TL2 in the company's APS-C lineup. We've been using one for a few days – check out our gallery of images.
While it shares a name with one of Leica's most popular and affordable cameras of the 1970s, the new CL is separated from its namesake by more than just years. We've been using one for a few days - click through for a detailed first-impressions report.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and the #4 ranking goes to the Leica M10.
Sigma is discounting 13 different high-performance 'Art' series lenses from today until November 30th. The company is calling it an 'unprecedented' sale.
See DJI's 'AeroScope' drone-tracking technology in action. This is the system that DJI says can help law enforcement and airport (among others) track and identify rogue drones.
iPhone X owners can already accessorize their new phone with high-quality smartphone photography lenses courtesy of Moment's new lineup.
Considering buying Sigma's exciting new 16mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens for crop-sensor E-Mount and M43? Check out these official full-res samples first!