I'm looking for the best photographic editing tool for Apple's iPad. There are many programs on the App Store, but I cannot test them without buying them. So what is your experience in the subject?


I think the Photoshop mobile app is going to be one of the better options.

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    Looks promising - though the weird bug where it crashes if it's opened in landscape mode is deeply annoying. I hope they fix it soon... Aug 13 '10 at 15:50
  • A newer version was released the next day: itunes.apple.com/us/app/adobe-photoshop-express/… (It also appears to be free) Sep 26 '10 at 7:51
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    Not really: it's very basic. My answer discusses a few much better options. Sep 6 '11 at 22:10

It depends a lot on what you want to do with it, and hence what your criteria are for "best", but I've used a few so here are my opinions:

Photoshop Express: 2/5

[US link] Free, nice interface and easy to use, but features are limited to basic corrections, effects and frames. Sharing to other services is very poor: just Facebook and a Photoshop Express online service.

Snapseed: 4/5

[US link] This one costs a bit (£2.99 in the UK, although that gets you the iPhone version too) but has a lot more features than Photoshop Express. The interface is nice again, especially the little pop-up menus that appear when you use the editing tools. (I know that sounds odd but use it and you'll see exactly what I mean: it's very slick.) It also has automatic localised adjustments a bit like the ones found in Nik Software's Silver Efex Pro and other tools. (Nik make Snapseed too.) On top of that it's got lots of built-in effects filters, most of them customisable: for effects it's probably the best app on the iPad. And sharing is better than Photoshop Express: it supports e-mail, Facebook and Flickr.

On the downside, I'd love it to include a few more features that I use often (such as white balance and vignettes) and offer sharing to other services (like Twitter). Plus the price tag is definitely off-putting.

Photogene: 4/5

[US link] I first saw this described as "Lightroom for the iPad" and it's certainly loaded with features, with the emphasis much more on serious editing than effects. It's got all the editing controls you'd expect in a desktop app (white balance, exposure, contrast, curves, channels, histogram, sharpening...). Amazingly, it also has retouching tools like a heal/clone and dodge/burn brushes! There really is a lot in there, and it'll share pictures with most of the online services out there (Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, Picasa, etc.)

However, it's let down by an unappealing UI and the fun features (speech bubbles and effects filters) are disappointingly basic and unevolved. It's also an iPad-only product so you don't get to share the love with your iPhone.

Luminance: 3/5

[US link] Like a better Photoshop Express: it's all about effects, and has a fantastic set of filter presets, almost up to Instagram standards. It also has a decent set of editing tools (white balance, split toning, hue/saturation, brightness, contrast and vignetting) but bizarrely no crop or rotate (unless they're really hard to find). So it's another creative rather than corrective app, but again it's Universal so you get two apps (iPad + iPhone) for the (small) price of one.

PhotoForge2: 5/5

[US link] Only discovered this one recently and it's definitely The One! It has a stunning array of corrective features (including, but by no means limited to: white balance, levels, curves, channel mixer, colour balance, noise reduction, unsharp mask... the list goes on and on), as well as some nice auto-adjustment features. On top of that it has a good set of effects filters... and a Lightroom-style edit history... and layers. Yes, layers. It supports sharing to a huge range of online services (including Flickr, Facebook, Twitter/TwitPic, PicasaWeb, Tumblr and FTP). And best of all, all of this is presented in a really beautiful UI with a nice Mac OS dock-style effect on the menus. At the bargain price of £0.69 (UK) for a Universal iPad/iPhone app, it's a clear winner in my book. Definitely worth having.

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    For PhotoForge2, it should be noted that the current price (99¢ in the US) is described as being a "back to school" discount.
    – mattdm
    Sep 6 '11 at 22:02
  • @mattdm You're right, I hadn't spotted that. It's described as a 70% discount in the UK store, so the regular price will be around £2.30 here (around $3.30 in the US??). It's definitely still worth it at the full price, but with this discount it would be rude not to! Sep 6 '11 at 22:08
  • One can find a price history at appshopper.com; it appears to bounce around a lot.
    – mattdm
    Sep 6 '11 at 22:38
  • There's also a fairly broad round-up of iPad photo apps on dpreview. Sep 19 '11 at 21:18

Try Google Snapseed.

Here is dpreview's review of it: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/snapseed/ It has a very handy interface and a lot of features.

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