Apr 18, 2011 — by: Karl Johnson
Categories: iOS Applications, Review

 When the iPad 2 was announced on March 2, they also announced GarageBand as well. This is the second iLife application to be released for the iOS. The one glaring omission is iPhoto, which would make the best use of the iPad experience as it is a great photo viewing / editing device. Sadly, we still have to wait longer for iPhoto on the iPad.

Since there is no iPhoto for the iPad, other developers have stepped up to provide photo editing applications. We reviewed some of these back in December 2010. Now, it is time to do a new comparison with the two best photo management applications currently available: Photogene and Filterstorm Pro.

Photogene 2 was released back on December 22, 2010. It provides a good mix of photo and meta-data editing features for the iPad. Since then, is has been updated to 2.2 and has fixed several issues. The meta-data like EXIF and IPTC from Aperture can now be viewed in Photogene, which allows users to see information they added on the computer like keywords and captions in Photogene. Now, users don't have to add meta-data again if they want to upload their photos to the internet. They have also added an option to export to Dropbox. This provides an easy way to transfer files from the iPad to the computer. Other notable features in 2.2 include:

  • Photogene added an in-app purchase for extra features like star ratings, filter by star ratings, watermark, RGB curves, and JPEG quality control.
  • It has a good selection of basic adjustment tools which include contrast, exposure, sharpen, de-noise, white balance and curves.
  • Photogene can also edit IPTC meta-data information like keywords, title, caption, and creator information.
  • It has one set of default IPTC meta-data values that can be applied any photo.
  • The IPTC meta-data can also be copied from one photo to another. Both of these features save time by preventing the users from rewriting meta-data on each photo.
  • Three finger swipes between photos allows for quick changes between photos.

As with any application, Photogene has some areas that need improvement.

  • Adding the ability to edit / change geo-location meta-data.
  • Presets for IPTC meta-data would be a big improvement.
  • Add filtering by more than just star ratings.
  • Moving the viewing and editing of the meta-data from a dialog box to a side panel.
  • Add the ability to apply adjustments or filters with a mask.
  • Download files from Dropbox.
  • Change the photo interface from a white border / black background to a black border /gray background.

Filterstorm Pro was released this month and is a big upgrade to Filterstorm, the application reviewed in the previous article. It is also a separate application that costs $14.99. While many of the editing functions remained about the same, the interface and photo management features are greatly improved. While there are many excellent features in this new application, some of the more notable ones include:

  • Automations or adjustment presets for photo edits, which speeds up the editing process.
  • Presets for changing meta-data with multiple images selected. This really speeds up the process of tagging keywords, captions, and other meta-data to photos.
  • Library with albums and star rating filters.
  • Presets for exports with the ability to select multiple export options and give one click export experience.
  • Export options include Dropbox, FTP, Flickr, and Email.
  • All the standard photo modification tools like borders, crop, resize, and scale functions.
  • Many of the standard filters or adjustment tools like curves, blur, sharpening, saturation, brightness, contrast, noise reduction, and vignette.
  • Most of the filters can be applied with a mask, which greatly improves editing possibilities.
  • A mask can be applied with a brush, gradient, spot, color, or vignette.
  • The "add exposure" filter lets the user paint another picture on top of the first.
  • Files can be exported in up to 22 megapixels (7.5 on the iPad) on the iPad 2.
  • Navigate between photos with gestures similar to iPad's Photo. This really improves photo navigation compared to the competitors.
  • A history panel showing the photo adjustment changes.

As with Photogene, there are areas where Filterstorm Pro needs improvement and they include:

  • IPTC meta-data is not included in photo imports from iTunes or iPad photos. This is a very big omission by the developer. The lack of IPTC meta-data in imported photos prevent the excellent photo management tools from being used to their fullest. This is the biggest weakness of Filterstorm Pro and needs to be corrected soon.
  • Importing from Dropbox would really help make it easier to import photos from the computer. The developer has stated that this feature will be in 1.5, which is good news. Yet without included IPTC meta-data, this feature may not be worth very much.
  • Adding geo-location editing options.
  • Include Facebook as an export option.
  • Black or dark gray borders around photos instead of white, similar to Lightroom or Aperture.
  • Dark gray side panel with white text similar to Lightroom or Aperture.

Filterstorm Pro makes a really great photo viewer and organizer. Although RAW files are converted to bitmaps before editing (This leaves photos with limited white balance control and less dynamic range), it stills is an impressive photo editor for the iPad. The masking tools really make it stand out from the rest of the competition, and provide a lot more photo adjustment possibilities. Photogene is a good basic photo and meta-data editor for the iPad, yet it is out-shined by Filterstorm Pro in every area except imported photos. Including file names, EXIF and IPTC meta-data, and geo-location information is a must for any photo application and need to be included with Filterstorm Pro. Filterstorm Pro is only a few features away from being the premier photo manager on the iPad and provides many more editing features than iPhoto on the Mac.

Update: The developer left a comment on his twitter feed that reading IPTC meta-data will be included in the next update.  We will post another article when this update comes out.

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3 Comments

  1. Jason Kileg ~ Apr. 19, 2011 @ 11:24 am

    I love photo apps and I love to hear about new ones. My favorites now are 360 which allows you to shoot a pano very quickly. You do look a little strange twirling around with your iPhone but its fun: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/360-panorama/id377342622?mt=8 The other is iWatermark which watermarks my photos with the appropriate watermark and sends the photos up to Facebook and Twitter: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/iwatermark/id357577420?mt=8 The last is a very practical app for helping you maintain ownership of your photos. Thanks for the reviews. #
  2. Joby ~ May. 17, 2011 @ 6:13 am

    Hey nice comparison of the photography apps..There is also another good app named Sortshots which is the best app for managing photos on iPAD. #
  3. MeerkatMac ~ Aug. 18, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

    Photo Shack Pro is the way to go. Create libraries and albums on the fly, sort, title, and comment photos, view photo thumbnails and full screen all the way up to full resolution, inspect embedded photo metadata, slideshow, and map the locations where photos were taken, all without duplicating a single photo, or altering your iPad's Photos Library in any way, so photos are always available to all of the apps on your iPad. It's currently the top ranked photography app on iTunes. #

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