The default photo editing apps on your smartphone or tablet are fine as far as they go, but advanced photographers need something more nuanced as they continue to perfect their craft. And the desire for subtlety and control over the finished product isn’t reserved for experts either.
Even relative newcomers to the art of photography can grow weary of the limitations imposed on them by these simpler apps, especially once they realize that there’s more to editing than cropping, sharpening blurred backgrounds, and coarse-grained filtering.
RAW Photos and Next Level Editing
That’s where RAW photos come in. The standard JPEG files that smartphone/tablet and digital cameras use are processed automatically when you take a photo. And while you can do some nifty stuff with JPEG files during the postproduction phase of your workflow, the unprocessed nature of RAW photos allow for wide-ranging control over the finished product.
In fact, RAW photos don’t just allow for advanced editing control; they actually demand it. The same unprocessed nature of RAW photos, which gives your end product such incredible potential, can make your photos look rough and unfinished if they’re not edited properly. This means that you’ll need an editing app that can handle RAW photos with all the precision they demand.
In the sections that follow, we’ll review a couple of mobile apps that are capable of the precise control advanced photographers want to have over their end products. These sorts of apps have been available for quite some time on your PC or MAC, but it’s only in the last two years that mobile versions have appeared. After reading these reviews, you’ll be able to get started choosing the one that best fits your needs.
The Adobe Lightroom Mobile App
We’ll start with Adobe’s foray into mobile RAW editors. Adobe’s desktop version of their Lightroom editor has been a great tool for a long time, but it was only a couple of years ago that they offered a mobile tool that mimicked its advanced features.
Not surprisingly, Adobe’s first mobile app for RAW photos was a really good product. Unfortunately, it could only work with photos that were saved in the DNG format, which is Adobe’s proprietary standard. But when smartphones began to save RAW images in other formats, Adobe was forced to develop a mobile that could handle more than just DNG files.
Their new version does exactly that. Adobe’s mobile Lightroom Editor can now handle any RAW format that its desktop version. Needless to say, this is a boon for photographers who want to edit RAW photos and post them on the fly. The days of having to go home after a shoot and edit RAW images on your Mac or PC are gone. Here’s what the mobile version can do.
Adobe Lightroom Mobile Gives You the Freedom To Roam
Essentially, with Lightroom Mobile, you can now do everything with RAW images you can do on the desktop version. In an overall sense, this means that Lightroom mobile allows you to work with the entire dynamic range of colors and resolution that makes RAW images so appealing in the first place.
Adobe Lightroom Mobile does a great job recovering the aspects of an image you can lose during the shooting process. The aspects you can recover with the app include the minute details, blown highlights, and color data you can lose with an overexposed or excessively dark image. You can also restore lost white balance and edit uncompressed images.
Lightroom Mobile also allows you to sync your photos across all your devices in real time and can handle large 50-megapixel files as effectively as it handles smaller ones. All in all, Adobe’s Lightroom Mobile is an excellent editing tool for shutterbugs who use the best Android tablets or smartphones for roaming photography.
Google’s Snapseed Mobile Editor
Adobe’s Lightroom’s chief mobile competitor is Google’s excellent Snapseed app. Snapseed offers a ton of incredible options for editing RAW images and is a great choice for photographers who want to maximize the great potential of all the data that RAW technology captures.
With Snapseed, you can fine tune an image’s white balance, contrast, and saturation in extraordinarily subtle ways. You can also jump in immediately and recover lost highlights and minute details, as well as manipulate the effects of the saved image’s shadows.
This is exactly what both amateurs and professional photographers want– a mobile app that loses nothing of the original image they shoot. They want a mobile editor like Snapseed, one that gives them nuanced control over the images they work so hard to track and shoot.
Snapseed is easy to use for both beginning and advanced photographers. It also has a very straightforward interface, one that allows users to start using it quickly. But it also has the advanced features that allow for a great deal of progress as the photographer improves his or her shooting and editing skills. Snapseed also has great facial recognition technology installed and an incredible variety of filtering options. This recognition technology allows you to manipulate facial images to a wide array of scenarios and contexts.
Taken together, these features make Snapseed an indispensable tool for photographers who need mobile editing. In a head-to-head comparison with Adobe Lightshop Mobile, we’d have to say that Snapseed has a leg up on its newer competitor. It’s with good reason that Snapseed is considered to be the Photoshop of mobile editors by so many great photographers.