Pixelmator 2.2 (Blueberry) Review

Pixelmator 2When it comes to image editors, the Mac App Store offer excellent applications that are reasonably priced. Some of these apps even comes for free, and it sets up the bar to a higher level for newly published editors.

During the last couple months we reviewed a lot of interesting and popular image editors, and while some failed to impress us, there are also a few that can be considered as goldmines for Mac users. One of those well-known image editors, that you probably heard of is Pixelmator. We reviewed freshly published 2.0 version sometime last year, in October, and we were very impressed with it. This is an excellent application, attractive and functional yet simplified interface for users.  Because of this, it is considered as one of the most functional image editors. Now, a few days ago a new version (update) was published – it fixed some bugs and bought out additional tools.  A 2.2 version, known as Pixelmator 2.2 Blueberry.

 

Pixelmator 2.2 Blueberry keeps the interface intact,  in addition to new buttons and icons. You can still turn on all the needed toolbars and sidebars, giving you the ultimate freedom to organize your own workspace. Once you dig into it, you’ll see some new features like advanced shape insertion and editing, new Color Popovers contains color switches, improved drawing and type tools, and a new retro photo filter. So let’s see what exactly these new features do.

I would say that the biggest addition to this version of Pixelmator is the way this application handles shapes. First of all, you’ll receive a little bit over 40 preloaded custom shapes that are contained within new Shapes Palette. Simply drag and drop it onto your photo or image, and edit them even further. You can also simply add new shapes or share your own shapes with other people by adding or copying them from your new Shapes Palette. As you can imagine, this tool comes with a very comprehensive Shapes Tools, which allow you to create new shapes, edit them, and adjust a text to a shape’s outline and similar operations. Also, once you’ve spent a lot of time creating a unique style for your shape, you can simply add it to Shape Style Palette and apply to other shapes. This could be all used to create logos for example, and all these tools are really functional and useful.

There are also additional tools like Smart Move Tool.  It detects an image or a vector shape while working, so you can always have appropriate set of options. Also, that new photo effect we have mentioned before is called Light Leak effect, it helps create retro-looking illuminated images.

It is actually really nice to see how developers of Pixelmator are continuously working on adding new features and making this editor even better. Also, this update is free for any existing users, while Pixelmator costs $15 (at the moment) if you decide to purchase it right now.

 

Acorn 4.0 Review

Acorn 2I believe that every Mac user owns at least one image editor, which is an application considered essential these days. Of course, every new Mac ships with Apple’s iPhoto that is perfectly functional and useful application, but most users still like to dig into the Mac App Store to find a new image editor which brings some innovative and advanced features through a simplified interface. On the other hand, professional photographers and designers are not that much satisfied with the iPhoto either, and there’s a huge selection of professional image editors in the Mac App Store as well.

In this article we are bringing you a review of an image editor that can be  interesting for an average home users, photography enthusiasts and professional photographers as well. In case you searched for an image editor before, you surely did not missed Acorn – a long-time favorite image editor for many Mac users.  Two weeks ago, Acorn finally published its latest 4.0 version and it turns out to be a very useful upgrade.

Acorn 3

For those who never used Acorn, it is important to say that this application always brought simplified user interface, which is usually very flexible and packed with dozens of useful features, so you can easily adjust it to your needs and your photography knowledge. Acorn 4.0 brings some very useful interface changes, and well as some new features as well.

Acorn 4.0 in some ways resembles Photoshop, in terms of how you can organize tools and palettes, which could be completely free-floating on your desktop. A new change is that the main Tools palette is now presented though a vertical floating window. Central window will still show your image, while on the right you can set up multiple tool palettes, that you use the most often.

One of the biggest new changes is the Filter Layers palette which brings numerous non-destructive filters for your images. These filters are preloaded image effects, which could be fine-tuned by tweaking some of their parameters. Now you can combine several of these filters, thus creating unique set of tools and a very advanced image editing functionality. Acorn 4.0 makes these filters non-destructive, which means that you can “go back in image’s history” to remove a certain filter or to completely revert to the original photo.

Even though we first explained one of the new features found in Acorn, you should also know that this image editor still comes with all those well-known tools like text and shapes, basic enhancement tools, several selection tools, numerous brushes, and advanced export options. Acorn was always known as a full-featured image editor, and the newest version isn’t changing that.

Finally, a few words on how Acorn impacts your Mac’s performance. It is well-known that most semi- and fully-professional image editors completely draw processor and RAM power and that’s why Acorn 4.0 was completely rewritten. This is the most obvious with the new filters, where even older Macs can easily handle three of four filter layers at the time. Newer machines won’t have any problems even with the most complex tools.

Acorn 4.0 currently costs $30, which is its introductory price. Its regular price is $50, which is still a good deal, though it is a bit too much for an average home user.

Fotor Review

Fotor 1I strongly believe that everyone needs to have a simple photo editor on their computer. With Macs, this is even easier since when you buy a new one, you’ll automatically receive a free copy of iLife suite which includes well-known iPhoto. This application, besides being a photo editor, is also a comprehensive photo management solution which also includes built-in library and organization.

For some reason, iPhoto always struggled to win over users, even though it brought almost all the needed features for an average home user, and it also works well with the rest of Apple-designed apps. On the other hand, I can understand why many people like using those simple editors found throughout the Mac App Store, which are usually free or they cost only a few dollars. These small photo editors bring all the needed basic tools to edit a photo, but they often bring some advanced (and often limited) features, typically found in high-end photography software.

Since we really like reviewing photo editors, especially new arrivals to the Mac App Store, we’re showing you today an app called Fotor, which is completely free to download and use. Fotor might be the perfect solution for many amateur photographs, so continue reading to see why.

Once you open Fotor, you’ll probably see the familiar interface which consists of editing surface, along with a sidebar filled with tools. Interface is simple enough even for a complete newbies, and it tries not be overwhelming, so you can focus on a photo you’re editing.

The Fotor’s sidebar reveals several categories which are hiding dozens of tools, and those categories are Scenes, Crops, Adjust, Effects, Borders, and Tilt-Shift. So, let’s see what these can offer.

Fotor 2

Scenes seems to be an autocorrect tool which automatically applies color changes and sometimes new effects. You’ll find more than a dozen of autocorrect tools, which are extremely easy to use.

Crops, as you can image, can crop your image in freeform, or by setting up a fixed resolution and ratio. Right below is a category called Adjust, which allows you to fine-tune every single aspect of your image, like exposure, color temperature, sharpness, brightness, and much more.

Effects, Borders, and Tilt-Shift are pretty much self-explanatory, so in case you’ve got some experience with photo editors, you surely know what to expect. Still, we’ll say that all three of those are well designed, and they bring some very helpful and effective fine-tuning, which will make every user very happy.

Fotor 3

Once you’re finished editing an image, you can save it or share it online. Saving allows you export an image in formats like JPEG, PNG, BMP, and TIFF. Sharing features include Facebook and Twitter, and I was a bit surprised not to see Instagram, Flickr, Photobucket, or any other photo sharing service.

In general, this is an extraordinary photo editor which is packed with very effective tools and features. I do believe that many users will be perfectly happy with it, and that Fotor will become their number one choice amongst photo editors. It does have a few shortcomings, but they are not that noticeable.

Once again, Fotor is a completely free app, and could be downloaded from the Mac App Store.

Darktable Review

Darktable 2Ever since Mac App Store became opened for business, image editors took over those popularity charts, along with some games and productivity apps. There is a very wide range of available photo editors, which come in all shapes and sizes, and also in very different price ranges.

As we noted is some earlier articles, and this remained the same even today, bestselling photo editors are very simple, and they are usually designed to offer only one prominent editing feature. They all come with basic photo editing like cropping, rotation, adjusting brightness/hue/saturation, and similar basic tools. Besides that, those photo editors tend to offer one advanced tool like creating cartoon style effect, tilt-shift images, or panoramas. The truth is that you can do all of this, and so much more, by using more dedicated photo editor like Lightroom, Aperture, or Photoshop – to name a few. There’s also ever-present iPhoto, which I believe is seriously misunderstood by many users.

As you can see, digital photography is available to everyone, and it is sometimes difficult to find the best tool to help up with digital photo libraries. iPhoto is there, but many users are simply not fans of it, and other similar applications are very expensive. That’s why we are bringing a review of Darktable.

Darktable 3

Darktable is a photo library app, which is also a very capable photo editor. The best news is that it’s completely free, since this is an open source project.

In order to explain what Darktable offers, we’ll show you its capabilities through its four main features, called: lighttable, darktable, tethering, and mapping.

Lighttable is organizational aspect of this app, so this is where you can import and organize your digital photo library. Just with any other aspect of this app, interface is really dark and seems cluttered. I’ve used iPhoto, Aperture, and Lightroom for quite some time, so I am accustomed to different interface styles, and it still took me a while to find my way around Darktable. Options regarding import and organization are nicely designed, and they give you full control over your photos. You can tag them, add keywords, star ratings, label them with colors, and such. There’s no classic album-oriented organization, like in iPhoto for example, which I really missed.

Darktable 1

Darktable is where you can edit your photos. Editing features are really powerful, and I was surprised to see some professional-grade features like high pass filtering, hot pixel healing and some others, which are finely crafted. Editing options are placed in many tabs, so the interface is cluttered at first. Once you start using this app, you can reorganize those tabs and even choose your favorite features, which could be always easily accessible. Also, Darktable is very stable and fast, and doesn’t put too much effort on your computer’s processor.

Tethering is another very interesting addition, which could be found at professional-grade software. Finally, there’s mapping which means that Darktable is able to read and write GPS information written by your camera. It also allows you to write new GPS data.

Considering that this is an open-source and completely free application, I was very surprised how powerful and well-designed it is. It gives you whole package: organizing and editing, along with some additional features. I’ve got only one remark, and it refers to a bit cluttered interface which will surely be overwhelming for new users, and a bit confusing for experienced users at first.

CameraBag 2 for Mac Review

Just as the iPad and the iPhone arrived, and once the iOS App Store appeared, photo editing applications became extremely popular. These devices offer innovative and unique way to control and edit your photos, which was very appealing to users. Most of these applications are very simple to use, and they tend to target one specific type of potential users. For example, some of them bring ability to turn your pictures into sketches, others offer ability to create collages, and there are some which offer entry-level editing and preloaded photo effects.

After Apple introduced Mac App Store, large number of these popular photo editing applications which were previously iOS exclusive, were rewritten to be used on a large screen. Most of them offer the same or very similar interface, but simply because screen is much larger on Macs, made this application look brand new.

With the popularity of Instagram, many application appeared which offered similar photo effects filtering, which could change atmosphere of a photo in just one click. In this article we’ll review probably the most successful example of a photo editor which uses preloaded effects to edit a photo. It is called CameraBag 2, and is one of the runner ups for the 2012 App of the Year award.

CameraBag 2 offers unique way to edit photos, by introducing already well-known photo effects. The main difference between this application and hundreds of others who also use preloaded effects is in the way how CameraBag 2 piles up layers of effects and offers fine-tuning for each of these layers. This gives us unlimited number of effects, which all depends on your imagination and creativity.

Once you open a photo in CameraBag 2, you’ll notice a beautiful and streamlined interface. Whole window is focused on a photo you’re editing, so it is real pleasure to use this application on large iMac displays. There’s only a small vertical bar which features photo effects, which are organized in several categories. These categories, or groups of similar effects, could be found in a very thin vertical bar on the right side of the window.

When you decide to add an effect, you can simply hover over it and a small window will appear which will show you a preview of your photo. Simply click on an effect and it will be automatically applied. Every effect comes with some tweaking options, so you can fine-tune amount of color, or strengths of shadows, or graininess, and so much more. Now, you can apply another effect on top of existing one, which creates a completely different setting. You can now fine-tune the latest layer (effect) and you can also go back to any previous layer and change its settings as well.

CameraBag 2 comes with approximately 100 preloaded effects, which means that you can play with this application for a very long time.

 

Any Video Converter Review

Back at the times when I was a Windows user, I always had a problem with video converter applications. There are numerous occasions when you need to convert a video so you can send it to someone, or in case you’d like to watch in on your iPhone, iPad, PlayStation Portable and similar devices. Problem with most of video converters for Windows is that they are a synonym for malware, so in most cases you will end up with a worm or some type of spyware. Of course, you can always purchase a license for a professional software, but tends to be quite pricey, and frankly, you will only need it once in a while.

Once I switched to Mac OS X, which was also a long time ago, I didn’t have a problem with video converters, since most of this converting would happen in Apple designed iLife. Since I mostly convert videos to watch them on my iPad, all I need to do is to import them into iTunes and everything else will be completely automatic and in the background. Still, you will surely need a converter which could deal with some of the unusual video formats, and this is when you will need to find a suitable application. Luckily, you don’t have to worry about malware since you find one at the Mac App Store.

The application which we will review in this article is called Any Video Converter, which is created by AnvSoft. There is a free version, but in case you plan on using this application on a daily basis, you can purchase a license which will unlock a Pro version.

Any Video Converter is able to effortlessly convert formats like ASF, AVI, MPEG1/2/4, WMV, MOV, MP3 and 3GP, for example. You can also export it as any of the previously mentioned formats, and you can also fine-tune all of the settings associated with that particular video format.

This application doesn’t only convert videos, since you can also use it to convert audio files as well as to automatically download YouTube videos and transform them into viewable format. Just like with video files, you can fine-tune output settings, so you can make sure that you’ll get the best possible quality. In case you don’t want to mess around with these important settings and parameters, you can use one of the preloaded profiles by selecting a device you want to use to view those files. This is how you can select iPad, iPhone, PSP, Windows Phone or any other popular device, and Any Video Converter will automatically adjust resolution and all other settings.

Any Video Converter comes with an interface which is quite similar to any other video converters. This means that it can be a bit difficult for a complete newbie, but you will eventually find your way around. Still, this is a free application which does somewhat complication operation, so it’s important to keep that in mind.

Snapseed for Mac Review

Ever since the original iOS App Store appeared, photo editing applications became hugely popular and successful. First simple photo editors became available for iPhone, but this trend became mainstream once iPad was introduced. iPad is a perfect device for this type of applications, since it gives you very intuitive ways to control your image and apply effects, which is something that we haven’t witnessed before. Once Apple introduced Mac App Store, many of these applications were rewritten so they can work on Mac OS X, and many of them proved to be a huge success.

Most of these applications offer basic and somewhat advanced photo editing capabilities, which makes them user-friendly and much more approachable than some other popular photo editing applications, like Photoshop. What’s different between these applications and Photoshop, is that these applications are aimed to be used by an average user who doesn’t have a knowledge of working in a complex application like Photoshop actually is.

In this article we are bringing you a review of one of the most interesting photo editing applications for Mac OS X, called Snapseed. You’re most likely somewhat familiar with this app, since it was first developed for iOS devices and it was a huge success for Nik software, a developer company who stands behind this creation.

Snapseed for Mac OS X offers familiar interface which is not much different than the one in iOS versions. In order to get started, all you need to do is to drag-and-drop a photo onto the open Snapseed window. This will open its main window where you will see a set of icons on the left side, which are symbols of different types of adjustments and effects that you can apply. Few icons on the top are basic adjustments like color enhancements, the ability to crop and straighten your image as well as to adjust some other details. The rest of them could be referred to as creative adjustments, and this is something that makes Snapseed unique.

These creative adjustments let you create Black & White photo, center focus of your image, add drama effect (change various color moods), insert a tilt-shift feature, and finally add some frames. There are also some other mood-enhancing features like Vintage and Grunge, all of which you can fine-tune up to their smallest bits. All of these features are applied the same way as with iOS edition, where you drag up-and-down or left-to-right to apply effect and then increase/decrease its intensity.

Snapseed is unique and so popular because it is not a classic photo editor. It easily gives your photos a certain shine or a mood which is hard to explain. And the best thing is that it’s so fun to use it, and you don’t have to have any previous knowledge.

Snapseed could be purchased through Mac App Store for $19.99.

Photoshop Elements Editor Review

PS Elements 1

PS Elements 1Photoshop is certainly one of the most important tools in digital publishing, web design, photography, and graphic design. Of course, there are numerous other professions which are using this tool on a daily basis. Since it’s considered a professional software, it’s priced quite high, especially if you’re buying bundled pack called Creative Suite which is also a necessity in today’s digital world.

During the last couple of years, Adobe – the creator of Photoshop and Creative Suite pack, tried to offer less expensive version of Photoshop, which is created for home users. Even though this version doesn’t offer tools as powerful as those in the original, these tools are more than enough for an average basic user who would like to edit photos and prepare them for print or online publishing. This version of Photoshop is called Photoshop Elements Editor and you can purchase it through Mac App Store for $79.99. This means that it’s still a little bit pricey, but remember that PS Elements is not created only to crop a photo or to color it, since this is still a powerful software and you’ll need to take some time to learn its features in order to get the most out of it.

At first, PS Elements is quite similar to original Photoshop, but it’s obvious that it’s more user-friendly. You’ll have a set of standard tools in the vertical toolbar on the left side, while right side is reserved for various tools which could be turned on or off through a Window command in the menu.

PS Elements 2One of the biggest changes, comparing it to the original PS is the set of tabs located on the right side, in this order: Edit, Create, and Share. This is where you’ll find a lot of great features, which are all put together. Edit tab will let you automatically adjust your photos in many different ways. There are also a lot of preloaded effects which you directly apply to you photos and you can also use features to fine-tune you image. All these editing features are located within Edit tab. Finally, there’s one more very helpful thing and that’s the Guided option which explains each of the editing feature. This is perfect for new users as well as for anyone who would like to fully utilize each of the tools PS Elements offers.

You can also create many different pre-formatted photo files like photo books, greeting cards, collages and more, by using Create tab. Finally, there’s also a Share tab which lets you easily share a photo through one of most popular online services like Flickr and Facebook, but you can use create online photo album, attach a photo to an email on burn you gallery to a DVD media.

In overall, this is certainly the best and the most comprehensive photo editing solution available, for an average consumer. It’s priced at $79.99, and it is well worth it.