More power and the ability to edit raw images means that the lines between mobile and desktop image editing is drawing ever closer. We may not be ready to ditch our computers just yet, but with so many apps bursting out of the app store, it can be difficult to know what to use to edit on the go.
Here we have picked 8 of the best mobile photo editing apps that photographers should consider loading on their phones. There are some very familiar names on the list, and the good news is that many of them other everything that you need to edit images on the go. Our advice would be to find one that does, not only, everything you need, but also the one you feel most comfortable with the interface off.
1. Adobe Lightroom Mobile
The king of image editing on your smartphone
Platform: iOS (iPad and iPhone version) and Android (Note: Android version is a generation behind the current iOS versions) | Price: Free (but requires a subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan at £8.57/$9.99 per month)
Impressive amount of controls
Can sync with Lightroom CC
Not for beginners
Right in at the very top of our list is Adobe Lightroom Mobile. The pinnacle of mobile image editing, Lightroom Mobile has the the vast majority of the Develop tools found in the full version of Lightroom CC. These features include all the exposure, white balance, colour, gradient, colour and clarity settings and the crop, localised adjustment and dehaze tools. Images can also be flagged or have star ratings applied. If all of this is too much, then there is a range of presets and automated features than can be applied with a tap of the finger. Oh, and you can now edit raw files from your iPhone now as well.
However, the reason that Lightroom Mobile stands out is its integration with Lightroom CC. If you have a Adobe Creative Cloud Photography subscription and Lightroom CC you can seamlessly sync files edited on your computer and on your smart device. Any changes you make on images on your mobile will sync with your desktop, including edits to raw files. And it is all non-destructive; the original image can be recalled at anytime as the edit are only applied to images as they are exported to your camera roll or to another app.
Lightroom Mobile isn’t the only software that can do most of the above, but if you already use Lightroom CC the integration, raw image editing, and regular updates adding new features, make it a must have.
Perfect for subtle, natural looking effects
Platform: iOS (both iPhone and iPad), Android | Price: Free with in-app purchases
Very simple to use
Natural looking effects
Subtle results are for everyone
Some in-app purchases needed
The app has a good basic selection of preset styles, while there are many more styles that can be found through in-app purchases. Most of the images styles are natural in appearance with the emphasis on subtlety rather than over-the-top HDR style effects.
If you want to to create a quick and easy edit, simply select your chosen style and adjust its strength. However, there is plenty more that can be done. Exposure, highlights, shadows, white balance, clarity and skin tones are amongst the adjustments, whilst images can be straightened and have their perspective corrected. Highlights and shadows can be individually tinted to create a really stylised effect. Best of all the app is uncomplicated and very simple to use.
Although VSCO is another Instagram-esque community for photographers, you can simply export images without uploading them to your profile. And if you do take part in the community aspect you can find some great photographers and images, with not a selfie, six pack, duck pout or protein shake in sight.
3. Google Snapseed
Still one of the best image editing apps out there
Platform: iOS and Android | Price: Free
Huge range of effects
Good image controls
Dumbed down for some
Can be awkward to use
Besides the usual array of colour, brightness and contrast adjustments, Google Snapseed also has some more advanced features. These features include selective colour channel adjustment, geometric corrections, selective adjustments and a healing brush. Combine this with a range of filter effects, such as Lens Blur. Glamour Glow, HDR Scape, Grunge, Noir and a selection of frames, and it is easy to see why Snapseed is loved by casual photographers and enthusiasts alike.
In our opinion, the only complaint with Snapseed is the interface. A year or so ago this changed from being the kind of interface that enthusiast photographers would be familiar with, to one which is slightly more dumbed down for the more casual user. For many this left it actually more awkward to use when it comes to making multiple adjustments to an image. However, for its huge range of effects and excellent image quality, Snapseed is still one of the best mobile editing apps out there.