Apple iPad, Day 22: Pictures and Photo Editing on the iPad

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Editing Pictures

OK. So, I have ruled out taking any award-winning photos with the iPad 2. That is fine. The larger display still makes the iPad 2 a better platform for manipulating and editing photos after the fact no matter what device the picture is taken with.

Getting a picture from the iPhone 4 to the iPad--especially without involving a PC--can be a tad tricky now, but when iOS 5 and iCloud hit the street photos will be automatically and seamlessly synced between devices.

30 Days With the iPad
Taking photos is not something I generally do with my PC, but editing them is.
I started out by downloading the Adobe Photoshop Express app. If I was on a Windows PC, I would probably be using Photoshop, so it seemed like a good idea to see what Adobe has to offer on the iPad.

The answer is "not much". Photoshop Express is about as close to Adobe Photoshop as Windows Paint. The app itself is free, but I also purchased the Adobe Camera Pack add-on which includes additional features to reduce noise, and also has a timer function in case I want to set the iPad 2 up and rush over to jump in the photo myself.

Photoshop Express has the basic tools novice photographers might use to touch up a picture. I can crop the picture, and rotate or flip it. The app also lets me change the contrast, exposure, tint, and saturation of the image, and sharpen the image or reduce noise. Throw in some borders and effects, and that pretty much sums up Photoshop Express.

I asked my wife--a professional photographer--to take a look as well. She is an advanced user of Photoshop CS5, and makes her living editing photos using Adobe software, but Photoshop Express is simply not in the same league.

I did some research and found a different app called Photogene. Photogene is a much more powerful photo editing app than Photoshop Express. It is still not Photoshop CS5, but it has many of the more advanced features my wife expects to find when editing a photo--like white balance, histogram, and curves.

As a less advanced user, there are also a few things I appreciate about Photogene. One is the A/B button. I can make changes to the various settings and those changes are reflected on the image, but I can tap the A/B button to see what the image looked like before I started messing with it as a comparison. After I am done screwing the picture up, I can also just tap "Original" to basically undo everything and go back to the way the picture was when I began.

I also like the Export feature in Photogene. It lets me save the edited photo to the iPad 2 Photo Library, or I can post it to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Dropbox, or Picasa. I can also print it, email it, upload it via FTP, or copy it to the clipboard.

The Verdict

Can the iPad replace a PC for a professional photographer? No. The tools available lack the advanced features that a professional photographer needs, and the limited RAM and storage capacity of the iPad would be an issue when working with much larger images from high-end digital camera equipment. Professional photographers should definitely stick to the PC.

For the other 99 percent of the world, though--those of us who just want to touch up photos to post on Facebook--tools like Photogene offer more than enough functionality. Getting photos from a camera or smartphone to the iPad is cumbersome now, but when iOS 5 gets here the iPad can handle the photo editing needs of average, and even more advanced hobbyist photographers.

Just don't use it to take pictures.

Read the last "30 Days" series: 30 Days With Ubuntu Linux

Day 21: Apple App Store Annoyances

Day 23: Using the Front-Facing Camera on the iPad 2

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