The cameras on our phones can never match up to the commendable quality of digital SLR cameras. They just can’t. However, every now and again we capture a superb image on our phones that’s worth saving. It could be a picture of friends, a landscape, or your favourite band on stage.
When a photo works, it works.
Color, quality adjustment, effects, and a little bit of cropping can work wonders too — and why not have the ability to do it right there and then on your phone, ready to tweet or share on Facebook? Photoshop Express from Adobe is an application for just that.
Upon firing up Photoshop Express for the first time you’re ready to go; every last photograph you’ve taken on your phone will load on the homescreen waiting to be edited and improved.
Once you’ve selected your masterpiece which you’ve decided could use a little tweak, a multitude of options await you in the editing screen. There are of course the basics, such as cropping, flipping and straightening, but even they’re done well.
Cropping is extremely easy as you’re able to move all four corners of the rectangle and then subsequently move the entire rectangle around. Once you’re done just press Okay and that’s that — all in about five seconds.
It’s in the more complex tasks that this application really flourishes where other applications fail miserably by ruining photos with poor quality and power. For instance, converting a color photo to greyscale: while it may seem like an easy enough task, many apps and even computer programs can mess it up beyond belief. Photoshop Express does an excellent job of analysing all the colors and shading in a photo, and converts it into a black and white picture that looks like it was taken that way in the first place.
This level of quality goes for all the colour editing features such as tint, contrast, brightness, exposure and saturation. Most of these are easily controlled, not by your average slider, but by simply moving your finger side to side on the screen until the level you want has been reached. This allows the picture to occupy most of the screen instead of being made smaller to accommodate toolbars, sliders and buttons.
The effects menu is what really made this app for me. The developers understand you’re on your phone and trying to shove an entire Photoshop program on there would have been unreasonable. Instead, they’ve given us a list of predetermined ‘effects’ which we can add to photos. You can see the screenshot above with examples such as ‘Pop’, ‘Soft Black and White’ and a personal favourite of mine, ‘Vignette Blur’. That one senses objects in the photo which are close (such as someone’s face) and gives them a sharp focus, while simultaneously blurring the background.
Adobe have also included some borders. I like the basic ones but as you continue to scroll through them they get a little cheesy. Still, variety is the spice of life.
No changes are permanent and the original files aren’t overwritten when you save either, which I liked. You can also undo and redo your work by pressing the appropriate arrows while editing.
Not Just Photoshop
Photoshop Express isn’t all about editing photos however; they’ve included one or two other features that make the experience just that little bit more enjoyable.
I personally find it a much better way to view photos than using the normal method of going through your pictures menu. The homescreen of Photoshop Express displays more photos in tile format which makes for quicker browsing and you’re brought closer to the editing process if you’re a regular snapper. The ability to view your pictures as a continuous slideshow is a nice touch.
The app can also be synced with an online Adobe Photoshop account where you can upload your photos to by pressing the ‘Upload’ button on the homescreen. You can also select the ‘Online’ tab as opposed to the ‘Phone’ tab to display your online photos and edit them.
The application is also in touch with our social needs with the ability to upload edited photos to TwitPic and Facebook. This feature isn’t instantly obvious when using the app for the first time, which disappointed me… until I came across the ability to enter and activate my social media accounts in the application’s ‘Settings’ menu.
I quite like the design of Photoshop Express; it’s sleek and professional as you’d expect from a seasoned veteran such as Adobe. The grey and blue color scheme work well together and all your photos are presented neatly.
The editing screen could have been their downfall here given the number and complexity of some of the options. Thankfully, they’ve pulled it off. Leaving the number of menus across the top of the screen reduces clutter and the subsequent drop-down menus look great.
Unlike in other applications and computer programs, selecting a function quickly opens a new screen where just that option’s slider’s and options are displayed. This screen allows you to make changes, save them or just hit Back to return to the main editing screen.
Across the bottom of the screen we have the exit button to go back to the homescreen, the undo and redo buttons, and the save button. You can also turn the phone on its side for a landscape view of your photo and the editing options as you can see in the picture above.
Throughout using this app for the past few months I’ve struggled to find fault. All editing expectations (as far as phones go) have been fulfilled by Adobe’s offering here.
I do have two niggling annoyances about this application, however. One feature I found the application to be lacking was the ability to add text in a picture. It’s not like such a basic task is beyond the scope, considering the other options currently available. Another option I missed dearly was the ability to remove red-eye. Hopefully Adobe will release an update with the features included.
All things considered, though, I love this application. It’s very powerful, obviously put together well and has never crashed on me. Photoshop Express enables high-quality photo editing that until recently was reserved for computers. Now touching up photographs on-the-go before tweeting or uploading them is a breeze and not something even the most experienced PhotoShop-ers should ignore as a potential creative tool.