Adobe Photoshop Express 2.0 (for iPhone)
Photoshop Express is imaging software giant Adobe’s toehold in the free app space. The Express family includes not only apps for iPhone (reviewed here), iPad, and Android, but also a Web-based image editor. Express also takes advantage of Adobe-hosted online galleries that make sharing well-presented images easy and an integrated piece of the Express offerings. Though there is a shooting mode, the app is more about perfecting and enhancing images after the fact than adding extra shooting options the way Camera+ ($2.99, 3 stars) and Camera Genius ($1.99, 3.5 stars) do. The one big downer with Photoshop Express is that a few of its most compelling features require an in-app upgrade purchase. Still, you get some nice editing tools for free.
In its Camera mode, clearly accessible as the top choice on the app’s home screen, Photoshop Express adds little over what you get with the iPhone’s built-in camera. And unfortunately, the biggest shooting plusses, auto-review mode and shutter timer, are only available as part of the extra-cost Camera Pack ($4.99); when you press their icons, a buy ad pops up. And those two features are actually not that big a deal, compared with the impressive capabilities in competitors, like Camera Genius’s shooting when you make a sound or Camera+’s stabilization, burst modes, and ability to control focus and exposure points separately. You do get a slider for the digital zoom, which is easier than the built in app’s pinch to zoom.
Review mode lets display photos after you’ve snapped the shutter for up to 5 seconds, which saves you from having to switch to the Photos gallery view, the way you do with the built-in iPhone apps, and makes shooting with the phone more like shooting with a point-and-shoot digital camera.
Another setting, Auto-time, lets you choose between 3 and 10 seconds to wait to snap the pic after you press the shutter button. It’s a basic feature that’s standard in many Camera-replacement apps for the iPhone (which surprisingly lacks it), but again it’s only available if you buy the $5 Camera Pack upgrade.
Fixing and Enhancing Photos
As you’d expect from Adobe, the image-editing basics are very well handled. The Crop tool not only lets you crop either freehand or in square, 3:4, or 4:3 locked aspect ratios (other apps offer more presets), but also handles straightening, rotation, and image flipping. One benefit of Photoshop Express over some options like Camera+ and Hipstamatic is that it lets you edit any photo on your iPhone, rather than just those taken through the app.
Express offers good control over lighting and color, too, with choices for Exposure, Saturation, Tint, Black & White, and Contrast. In each of these (except B&W), you just swipe your finger right or left to increase or decrease the adjustment. Clear undo and redo icons are always available, and an X takes you back to the album entry.
The next group of adjustments lets you be more creative, with Sketch, Soft Focus, Sharpen, and Reduce Noise options–this last one, probably the app’s most powerful feature, is another part of the extra-cost ($4.99) Adobe Camera Pack. The tool did indeed reduced noise in my test photos, but at the cost of making them blurrier. Luckily, you can increase and decrease the effect, but I wish the tool let me zoom in, since noise is a detail factor, requiring close inspection.