App Review: Filterstorm Pro for iPad

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Remember Touch Up? Remember why it could only handle small photo sizes? The iPad 2 is here, and while we’re still waiting for Touch Up to get up-to-date, other apps are coming out to show what the processing power of the iPad 2 is all about. Released 3 days ago, Filterstorm Pro is as close to Photoshop as I think you will get on a tablet right now. Keywords include RAW import, batch editing, and the ability to handle images up to 22 megapixels.

It’s rather ironic that I discovered this app shortly after writing about tablet software vs desktop software, as this app more or less changes everything as far as photo editing on the iPad goes. Aside from the editing options you have, the ability to handle images up to 22 megapixels (iPad 2, 7.5 mpix on the iPad 1) means that it can actually be a true replacement for Photoshop in many cases.

First off, Filterstorm Pro is the more advanced version of Filterstorm from the same company. Think of it like Photoshop compared to Photoshop Elements, or you can look at the comparison chart here. The most notable difference- at least compared to the upcoming non-Pro version- is the in-app library which is essentially a photo organizing feature internally in the app, allowing you to be a bit more organized and advanced than using the iPad’s photo library which organizes all imported images in one folder.

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Feature-wise, Filterstorm Pro is packed. It has the usual set of features you find in many iPad apps, such as hue/saturation, brightness, contrast, crop, rotate etc. However it does everything much more advanced, as well as add many new features. For example, you can crop using a simple interface but also crop and resize to specific resolutions, add borders, resize the canvas etc. It has the masking feature that Touch Up has, but instead of basing the entire app around it it’s just another way you can apply effects, along with e.g gradients, different opacities etc.

As for the “filters” themselves, you have curves, hue/saturation, white balance, sharpening, blur, black & white, clone, tone mapping, text, noise reduction, redeye brush, color, vignette, posterize and exposure. In other words quite a selection, with a few sticking out as particularly impressing, especially the clone tool. For those unfamiliar with professional photo editing, the clone tool allows you to copy parts of the image onto other parts by using a brush. Used correctly, this can be used to erase objects in an image and make it look like they were never there. Below is an ugly test image I had on my iPad from back when I got my Canon camera, which I used to try out the clone tool and the curves feature. Left/right is before/after.

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In this instance I used the clone tool to remove the head in the lower left and the building corner in the top right. I also made the image darker. Not exactly a good photo to begin with but it works as an example of what you can do with the features in Filterstorm Pro.

Filterstorm Pro also allows you to go back to previous versions of an image. When editing, the history tab will show the image at different stages. Once you go back to the library from editing a photo, it will save a new version which you can browse along with the original and any other editing sessions you’ve had with that image. You can then export the images to a whole range of services ranging from email to FTP, Dropbox and more, and you can also edit the metadata for the photos. What’s even more impressive is that you can click and hold an edited photo and “save automation”, which creates a macro of the editing session for that version of the image. You can then use this automation to automatically edit other photos. This is useful e.g for watermarking (which has its own feature as well) and resizing a whole batch of photos.

What makes Filterstorm Pro revolutionary is the combination of powerful features and high resolution support. It’s not really an app for beginners like Touch Up is as it has a lot of advanced controls that will easily confuse many people, but it does also have a whole rage of tutorials to help you along. This is the closest I’ve seen an app get to Photoshop, so even though the current price tag of $9.99 is $5 off the normal price tag of $14.99 it’s a lot cheaper than Photoshop- and many people would get by with the non-Pro version as well. There’s still a ways to go before photo editing on a tablet can really take over for desktop software- for instance I want true layer support and clever selection tools- but this app is still nothing short of impressive in my opinion.

Below is a few videos made by the developers that show off some of the features of the app.

 

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.

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