Affinity Photo for iPad Review

As someone who’s been using the iPad for editing and working with photos since the very beginning, even I was surprised by how capable Affinity Photo for iPad is. The power of the iPad Pro makes a big difference, yes, but Serif has delivered a full-featured image editor that doesn’t feel compromised.

Over at DPReview, I review Affinity Photo for iPad and give it high marks. Go check it out: Affinity Photo for iPad Review.

We’ve come to expect less from iOS software on the iPad compared to desktop applications because, in most cases, they’re mobile—and “mobile” has traditionally meant “limited.” A lot of that has been due to hardware: even as the iPad’s main processors improved, most models included a minimal amount of RAM that made it difficult to pull off operations expected of a modern image editor, such as smoothly dealing with many layers and real-time effects.

The arrival of the iPad Pro, along with a commitment in iOS to take advantage of the hardware, has opened the door for more powerful applications. One of those apps is Affinity Photo for iPad, a full-fledged image editor that doesn’t feel as if the developers had to remove features from a whiteboard to make the app a reality.

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Lightroom mobile Adds Selective Brush, New iPad Interface, and More

Lightroom_mobile_July_2017

Recently I needed to grab some screenshots of Lightroom mobile on the iPad and realized that I’d been running a beta for quite a while. I deleted the beta and re-loaded the release version and was momentarily taken aback: it seemed so basic compared to what I’ve been using!

Now everyone gets to experience the reverse of my awe, with today’s release of new versions of Lightroom mobile for iOS (and Android). Highlights that I particularly like include:

  • Selective Brush: When Adobe added gradient masks, Lightroom mobile became much more versatile, especially when editing landscape photos. Now, there’s a brush tool for painting masked areas or removing areas from gradients (like mountains that poke up into a sky you want to darken).
  • Details Pane: At last, you can apply Lightroom’s sharpening and noise-reduction tools to an image or a mask, instead of pounding away at it with the Clarity slider.
  • Redesigned iPad Interface: The editing tools are now accessible by tapping an Edit button, separating it from the Info interface (and the Rate & Review interface on the iPhone). This does have a drawback, though, in that the editing controls take up an awfully large section of the screen at the expense of the image you’re editing.

Lightroom mobile is free to use, although a Creative Cloud subscription is required to sync photos and collections between devices.

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iPad Pro Is Now a True Photographer’s Tool

Has the iPad Pro finally become a true photographer’s tool? A year and a half ago, with the release of the first 12.9-inch iPad Pro, it was so close… but there were still some significant limitations.

Now, with the latest iPad Pro models, I think we’re finally there. Improved hardware is part of the story—USB 3 speeds at import, finally, for both sizes—and software is catching up. And the possibilities that will come with iOS 11 in the fall are still more intriguing.

At Macworld, I explain in more detail: The iPad Pro: Now a true photographer’s tool.

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Photos Crash Course for iOS 10 and macOS Sierra

Tc photos v2Sometimes, it feels as if I’m a lone defender of Apple’s Photos app under macOS. Many people find it too different from iPhoto, or think it’s too basic (even though it’s actually quite sophisticated), or… I don’t know, they just don’t like change. Except for Aperture users who were abandoned by Apple—their discontent is understandable.

It’s not just because I wrote a book about Photos and Apple’s photo ecosystem. True, I use Lightroom as my primary photo library manager, but I also make extensive use of Photos and iCloud Photo Library.

And now macOS Sierra is out, with a new version of Photos that brings better searching, Memories, revamped people identification, and more!

Alas, when my publisher Peachpit Press all but vaporized early this year, the possibility to update my Photos book also went up in smoke. That’s too bad, because I really enjoyed writing it, and thought it turned out well.

However, I’m not the only Photos defender. My friend and colleague Jason Snell has just released the second edition of his highly regarded, and best-selling, Photos: A Take Control Crash Course. Jason has been immersed in Photos during the developer preview versions of macOS Sierra and knows it inside and out. The ebook is 74 pages of hard-won information, fully illustrated and written in Jason’s friendly, approachable style. And it’s only $10!

Photos is a key part of both macOS Sierra and iOS 10, so before you order Jason’s book using the link above, consider bundling it—at a discount—with Scholle McFarland’s Sierra: A Take Control Crash Course, Josh Centers’s iOS 10: A Take Control Crash Course, or both!

Buy the Photos, Sierra, and iOS 10 Crash Courses for $28
Buy the Photos and Sierra Crash Courses for $17.50
Buy the Photos and iOS 10 Crash Courses for $17.50

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How Lightroom for iOS 2.4 Changes the Mobile Photo Landscape

Birdhouses

Over at TidBITS, I write in more depth about the changes in Lightroom for iOS 2.4, and they’re doozies: Lightroom for iOS 2.4 Changes Mobile Photo Workflow.

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, adding native raw file format support to Adobe’s mobile photo editor is a big deal, especially for people who are looking to use just an iPad or iPhone on photo shoots to minimize the gear they carry.

It means you don’t end up with separate edited copies of photos that are synced with Lightroom on the desktop—a raw file editing in Lightroom mobile is synced to your main library with edits intact. And the editing power takes a big leap in quality, pulling detail out of shadows without blocking up sections where JPEGs just don’t hold up.

For example, here’s an underexposed raw photo edited entirely in Lightroom on my iPad:

LRm24 raw before after

There’s a better example in the article that shows extreme pixelation in a JPEG.

I also talk about the new local selection tools, which are great for adjusting selected portions in linear or gradient areas. Here’s another before-and-after, showing the radial tools at work; I was able to bring up the exposure for just the birdhouses without overexposing the background.

Lightroom m24 local original

Lightroom m24 local radial

Overall, this is an exciting release, something I’ve been looking forward to for years. It streamlines the mobile photo workflow and does what I envisioned in 2011 when I wrote the first edition of my iPad for Photographers book.

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Lightroom for iOS 2.4 Adds Raw and Gradient Selections

Lightroom for iOS 2.4

Adobe just released a significant update for the iOS version of Lightroom, bringing two features mobile photographers are going to love: raw import and editing, and linear and radial graduated adjustments. The first could change how we work with photos in the field, and the second is a feature I use more and more on the desktop and have in the past resorted to interesting workarounds to implement on the iPad.

I need to dig more into this release, but it looks promising. Photos you import using Apple’s Lightning adapters are brought into the Photos app Camera Roll, and then recognized by Lightroom as raw. (Oh, but now I lament Apple’s choice of sticking with USB 2.0 speed for photo import on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro.) This could mean no longer needing to shoot in Raw+JPEG just to get a high-resolution JPEG to work with on the device.

(Remember, until now Lightroom wouldn’t even display raw images when importing them from the Camera Roll, and in most apps, the JPEG preview the camera creates to display on its LCD is what’s used for editing.)

Adobe says the app supports all the same raw formats that Lightroom on the desktop supports; I had no trouble opening and editing a handful of raw .RAF files from my Fuji X-T1.

Lightroom ios 2 4 raw badges

I’ll be writing more about this, looking at how Lightroom syncs the raw files back to the desktop, whether it’s practical to import a lot of images or just selected ones, and what this means for Apple’s upcoming raw image support in iOS 10.

For now, here’s more information from Adobe: Lightroom for Mobile July Releases.

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Raw Support Coming to iOS 10

Well now, this is interesting. PetaPixel spotted a feature in one of the slides during yesterday’s WWDC keynote that reads: “RAW photo editing.” We don’t yet know the details, but if iOS finally supports raw images, that could be a giant leap for mobile photo workflows. Raw is typically where the iPad has thrown a wrench into the works (as I describe in my book and elsewhere).

iOS 10 is available now to developers, with a public beta coming in July. The update will be available for everyone in the fall when we’ll see new iPhone models. I would bet (and the PetaPixel article brings up) that we’ll see some sort of raw capture on the new iPhones and perhaps the iPad, too.

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ColorSync Support in iOS 9.3 (!)

Truetone cool warm

Shortly after Apple announced the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro, I wrote a very quick take on the new True Tone display feature. True Tone automatically adjusts the color temperature of the iPad’s screen to complement the ambient light of your surroundings. For example, have you ever been in a room with warm light and checked email on an iPad, only to lose your eyeballs from the cool-bright burst of light? (Maybe I exaggerate…) True Tone is the answer to that.

However, my initial reaction as a photographer was wariness. If the color of the screen is changing depending on my environment, how can I do any sort of accurate editing? I confirmed that this will be a setting that can be turned off. And I continue to wait until I can get my hands on a device and test it out.

Well, True Tone turns out to be a lot more interesting. Developer Craig Hockenberry noted that the expanded color gamut of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is just the beginning:

In order to make the effect work, iOS needs color management. And with iOS 9.3, that capability is now here—and open for other developers to work with:

The Open Radar report Craig created notes that iOS 9.3 now supports ColorSync, the technology found in OS X for managing color profiles.

Additionally, starting with iOS 9.3 ColorSync support was added to UIKit.

I’ve noticed that it works correctly for both UIColor in a UILabel and with a UIImage in a UIImageView. Are there any other places where ICC profiles are used?

In a conversation with Apple engineers, I also learned that some older devices do not match color. That’s fine, but devices should be listed so our apps can adapt gracefully to this situation.

Why is color management important? Until now, every iOS device ships with just one color profile, sRGB, which is a good general color space for drawing color on screens. The problem is that not all screens are built the same: the photo you view on your laptop may look different on a desktop monitor, which may look different still on a mobile device. Color management is a way to adjust each of those screens so that the image you’re working on remains consistent.

Apple’s screens are generally very good, but for photographers and other visual artists and designers, the inability to adjust the color profile has meant that the iPad is excluded from any serious image-processing workflows.

Now, with true color management possible on the iPad Pro, the tablet may find a place in that chain, and perhaps photographers will be able to do final adjustment work on an iPad instead of bringing a laptop.

We’ll see when the 9.7-inch iPad Pro begins to ship. As Craig notes in his report, it’s not clear whether this capability extends to other hardware or if this iPad Pro is the only one. But with a ColorSync foundation in iOS, it puts more “Pro” into iPad Pro.

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iPad Pro 9.7-inch and the Curious True Tone Display

iPadPro_97

Apple today introduced a 9.7-inch version of the iPad Pro, and I think it’s the next iPad for me. Although I really liked the larger iPad Pro (see my review in the Seattle Times), I found myself drawn more to the traditional size of my trusty iPad Air. It was better for reading and certainly better for carrying around (considering that the iPad is not my main computer; your mileage may vary).

The new iPad has just about everything the larger iPad Pro does: faster A9X processor, four great speakers, Apple Pencil support, a Retina display (at 2048 by 1536 pixels), better cameras, and—surprisingly important to me—a Touch ID sensor; my little iPad Air is the first generation, which does not have Touch ID.

But there are also two details that I’m looking forward to learning more about and experiencing in person. The iPad Pro page reads:

A color standard big enough for Hollywood.

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro display uses the same color space as the digital cinema industry. This wider color gamut gives iPad Pro up to 25 percent greater color saturation than previous iPad models. So colors are more vivid, true to life, and engaging.

This sounds very gee-whizzy, and the optimist in me wonders if this could actually be a step toward having color profiles. The realist in me is pretty sure it means the display technology is just improved, and there’s just the one default (as has always been the case with the iPad models).

The other new feature, though, is even more interesting:

See things in the best possible light. Whatever the lighting.

People love using iPad everywhere. That’s why the new 9.7‑inch iPad Pro has a True Tone display. It uses advanced four-channel ambient light sensors to automatically adapt the color and intensity of the display to match the light in your environment. Which means reading is more natural and comfortable — almost like looking at a sheet of paper.

In theory, this sounds great! How often have we turned on the iPad and been blinded by brightness or the stark white of a minimalist app? Making the viewing experience more comfortable in a variety of lighting conditions is quite cool.

For photographers, though, this sounds like a giant hassle. If the color temperature of the screen is changing based on surroundings, that means colors are going to shift. Viewing and editing photos becomes more of a crap-shoot. I hope there’s an option to disable this feature (or maybe there will be an API call that would enable developers of photo-editing software to turn it off while the app is running). [Update: I confirmed with Apple that you can turn off the feature in Settings.]

We’ll see. I’m looking forward to some hands-on time with the device to check these out in person.

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PhotosApp.Expert on iPad Mobile Workflow

The iPad Pro is prompting us to revisit mobile photo workflows using an iPad, and PhotosApp.Expert has just published a great overview of options: The Quest for a Viable iOS RAW Workflow. Definitely check it out.

I have an article coming soon for Macworld about how the iPad Pro stacks up for iPhoto photo workflows; I’ll post a link when it’s published.

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