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Top 10 Best Photography Photo Editing Apps for Apple iPad - Updated

2010-08-14 06:58
According to estimates by Gene Munster, chief Apple prognosticator at Piper Jaffray, Apple sold 300,000 iPads 3G first weekend. Estimates is based on calls to 48 stores. Apple stated that they sold 1 million iPads in the United States just 28 days after its launch and it reached 2 million in about 2 months since launch. In only 80 days, Apple claim it has sold 3 million units worldwide! In August 2010, the iPad has achieved a major milestone with over 20,000 native apps now being present at the App Store. The progress is relatively quick, as the 10,000 mark was hit in June, and the iPad itself only launched on April 3rd. For comparison, the App Store as a whole only achieved 20,000 titles in February 2009, some seven months after its opening.

With over 20,000 iPad apps now available, Apple has made the iPad one of the fastest growing application ecosystems in the company's history. The iPad app ecosystem is currently the third largest mobile apps platform behind iPhone and Android. You might be wondering what applications could make this tempting for professional photographers, enthusiasts and snapshooters?  There are currently a handful of photography-related apps available on the new iPad app store. Here are some of the best iPad apps that are available now. Check them out below:

Nevercenter's CameraBag

Price: $2.99
Rating: 3 stars
iTunes Store: 

(U.S. $2.99) is a popular  photographic cropping, framing, and filter tool  that has had life on both the Mac and PC platforms, as well as the iPhone. Now it's made it onto the iPad, where it will be highly welcomed by photographers.  The app comes with some preset filters like "Helga," which gives you a square format image with washed out highlights and some vignetting. "1962" provides dynamic black and white images, and "Magazine" delivers saturated tones to your photos. There are other presets as well, plus a button that generates a random variation of an existing preset. CameraBag preserves the resolution of your originals, and it's possible to scale them down if you'd rather have a smaller size for posting or sending photos via mail.

Finished images are saved back to the iPad library or can be emailed. Through a USB connection, you can import photos from iPhoto. With the , you'll be able to pull in photo files (even RAW format) from your digital camera, and then modify the images. Check out the CameraBag for iPad video and b e sure to visit the  for more examples of what the app can do.  Here is a user review by Starryeyedseven, giving a rating of 1/5:

"On my iPhone I have just about every filter and photography app, so, I'm experienced!  This app did not impress me at all. There are precious few filter effects, 7 or 8, and none of them were usable for my particular photo. Half of the filters cropped off the bottom making the photo unusable, and the other half created dark tones too dense, very hamhanded and unattractive."

ZAGG's PhotoPad
Price: Free
Rating: 2.5 stars
iTunes Store: 

 by ZAGG is a free premium photo-editing app designed specifically for the iPad. PhotoPad features a variety of filters and adjustments, including color levels, threshold levels, posterize, constrast, tint, saturation, sepia, chromaticity. You can also access your edit history to undo or redo any of the changes. Here are  PhotoPad features:

  • Drawing/sketching
  • Cropping
  • Threshold levels
  • Color Swap
  • Paint Bucket
  • Adjust: color, tint, contrast, saturation, chromaticity

Here is a user review by Ragle, giving a rating of 5/5:

"I have been VERY critical in my review of iPad apps and downloaded this one thinking it would be another run of the mill photo chopper. I was initially impressed with the tools and features, but found some things lacking (namely, an ability to rotate photos. iPad screenshots in landscape display improperly in portrait).  I emailed the developer and voiced my feedback. Within a COUPLE OF HOURS, the dev emailed me back, said the features I wanted were ALREADY in the next version waiting for approval by Apple. That version was released today and today, PhotoPad moved forward in my app list to my "front page". It does what I need it to for basic editing for the purpose of blog posts, Facebook, etc. It has a gorgeous "iPad-like" GUI. It's free. Download it. I upped my rating to 5 stars.  Oh, and the dev added me to his GoogleTalk contacts!!! WTH? Awesome."

Nightsparc's PixelMagic
Price: $3.99
Rating: 3 stars
iTunes Store: 

 is a professional photo editing application for the iPad which enables you to edit and manipulate your photo's using the large screen of your iPad.  You can make changes as simple as a little bit of red eye reduction to the complexities cropping, rotating, filters and more. A ccessing the picture editing options is all done via the toolbar placed along the bottom of the screen. Clicking any of the options brings up a pop-up menu of the available options. Applying any of the filters brings up an additional slider that you can drag back and fourth to see the desired affect applied to the whole image. 

The effect is applied instantaneously and you can then either re-adjust the level of the filter or use the undo button to revert back to your prior setting. Some options can't be undone but as long as you haven't saved your changes you can easily reload the photo from your shelf with just a couple of taps.  There are 5 pre-set effects to choose from too which you can instantly apply to the whole picture. From Black and White and Sepia to Matte and Vignette, with these effects you can make instant changes. The crop option allows you to flip, rotate and crop your photo while the brush options allows you to apply details to large areas or specific parts of the photo with a significant range of options.  Here is a user review by antropica, giving a rating of 5/5:

"I love this PixelMagic photo editor. I find it more useful, intuitive and practical than Photoshop and it is so fun to use on my iPad. Very solid and well though out interface. So many features. I would have expected a tool this powerful to cost many times more than this. Grab it, but be warned..you won't be able to put it down."

Omer Shoor's Photogene
Price: $3.99
Rating: 4.5 stars
iTunes Store: 

  lets you crop and straighten photos, sharpen them, adjust levels and curves, apply filters, and create frames and selective blurs. You can then export them by mail, Facebook, Twitter, or iPhoto. You can also just save them to your iPad photo gallery.  Having a much bigger iPad screen to work on makes all the difference between this version and the iPhone version. 

The macros menu is were Photogene becomes a little more interesting. From a sliding side panel, you can choose from a range of different effects to apply to your photos. There are 15 effects in total. These include: Bleach, Web, Noir, Reflect, 20's Vintage, 40's Vintage, 70's Vintage, Cinema, Psychodelica, Vivid, Grayscale, Square, Stamp and Simple Frame. Each effect is different in its own right, and all effects are of high quality. As with the Macros tab, the Filters tab also provides a sliding side panel showcasing 8 different editing filters. These include: Sharpen, Pencil, Edge Blur, Black and White, Posterize, Sepia, Nightvision and Heatmap. If you accidentally quit the app during your edit session, the good news is that Photogene will restore that session, exactly where you left off, next time you open the app. Meaning you can edit something, and jump back to the homescreen without the worry of losing your progress.  Here is a user review by Peppppy, giving a rating of 5/5:

"This app is a must for anyone with the iPad. It easily and seamlessly links your imported photo's to this app and allows straightforward changes to be made that would rival top products options. This is not a replacement for the CS's, Aperture, or Nikon but it handles the major changes you'd want to make on the go. For those using iPad as a travel companion away from home it is a must - plug your camera in, upload the photo's then adjust and even comic them up with the options and send them off in a variety of ways thru email, facebook (linked), etc. I'm totally satisfied with this app. You will be too."

Here is the review by : "Photogene lets you augment photos, by adding different chat bubbles; you control the background color, text color, and font. You also have your choice of several different frames. Photogene supports several undos as well as a reset button that returns your photo to its original state, so you can experiment without fear of permanantly altering the image. But once you've got your photo looking the way you want, you can save it to the iPad's photo library, upload it to Twitter or Facebook, copy the image to the clipboard, or e-mail it to a friend.

As with the iPhone and iPod touch version of the app, Photogene for iPad has a wonderful interface that makes using this mobile image editor very easy and intuitive. I was definitely impressed with all the different ways Photogene gives you to tweak your photos, and the results can look really nice. The iPad may lack a camera, but it's a great device for viewing photos; with Photogene, it's also a great device for editing them."

Ubermind's Masque
Price: $5.99
Rating: 3.5 stars
iTunes Store: 

If you've picked up any iPhone apps for photography, you've probably heard of . They're the developer behind some of the most popular iPhone photo apps, including Best Camera and Perfectly Clear, and now they've released the first iPad photo editing app.  is a very cool and simple image editing and photo enhancement editor for the iPad. 

This iPad photo editing app uses the multi-touch functionality in ways not previously possible, especially in their multi-touch gradient tool.  You can use a single finger to select where the gradient begins and ends, but you can get more complex with more fingers. Pinching two fingers together contracts the gradient, using three controls the intensity and four fingers controls the size. Here're the main features:

  • Pro-grade filter effects
  • Never-before seen Multi-Touch gradient tool
  • Customizable brush and eraser
  • Easy, in-app Facebook and email sharing
  • Ability to save directly to your iPad's Photo Library
  • Optimized for both portrait and landscape photo

Here is a user review by TeQ, giving a rating of 5/5:

"It's like Photoshop meets finger painting. I'm a professional graphics designer and I can say that this tool makes editing photos so simple a child can do it yet so powerful that designers will use it. Very innovative concept and looking forward to using it daily."

Ghostbird's PhotoForge
Price: $4.99
Rating: 3 stars
iTunes Store: 

PhotoForge is a highly optimized editing and painting application designed for the iPad. It can be used for image manipulation, retouching, effects, and color correction, as well as a painters tool. It is indispensable for creating original artwork, or editing photos on your mobile device.

PhotoForge is a great photographers tool, providing digital darkroom capabilities that are second to none. It is also a tool for creating incredible works of art and illustrations. PhotoForge allows you to put together an image, combining filters, brushes, and effects. They may be hand-painted, or a composite of photographic images mixed with painting. The filters and effects can be layered to produce even more dynamic results. Here're the tools available:

  • Crop tool: Crop, rotate, and flip.
  • Brush tool: Experiment with 8 different brush strokes. Choose from unlimited sizes, colors, and transparency options.
  • Smudge tool: Smears the pixels along the direction of the brush stroke. 
  • Clone Stamp tool: Sample pixels at one location in an image, and paint them in a different location.
  • Eraser tool: Erase away portions of brush strokes, filters or effects applied to the image. For example, this tool will allow you to colorize black and white filtered images, among countless other uses.
  • Magnify tool: Zoom in, out, and pan.
  • Eye Dropper tool: Selects the color of individual pixels in an image.
  • Fill tool: Fill the visible area of the image with color.

Here is a user review by jalvani, giving a rating of 3/5:

"I've been been testing a whole bunch of post-production apps in the app store, since deciding I want to use my iPad for as much editing as possible. Up until this point, I've been using several apps per photo. PhotoForge's promise of a multitude of tools seemed very appealing, since using a single app would eliminate having multiple copies of the same photo saved as I move through my workflow.  And, in that regard, PhotoForge didn't disappoint. It has plenty of tools. However, I was disappointed in the interface for many of them. I prefer CropSuey's interface for cropping, and Filterstorm's interface for adjusting curves. The filters in Filterstorm and CameraBag are more appealing.  I hope this app matures well, but for the moment I'm sticking with the tools I've become accustomed to."

PocketPixels's Color Splash
Price: $1.99
Rating: 4 stars
iTunes Store: 

ColorSplash lets you quickly and easily give photos a dramatic look by converting them to black and white, while keeping your chosen details in color. You can u se your finger as a brush to paint sections of your image black and white, or to bring back the original color. Zooming in and out using the two-finger pinching gesture allows you to work on details with pixel-accuracy.  Here're the main features:

  • A short tutorial video clearly explains how to use the app and all its features.
  • Share your edited images with friends via email or by uploading them to Facebook
  • Save multiple sessions to resume your work later.
  • Undo any number of accidental brush strokes.
  • Adjust brush properties such as brush size, softness and opacity.
  • An alternative view mode highlights the regions that will remain in color with a red tint. This makes it easier to see and adjust the boundaries between color and black & white regions

Here is a user review by Nyih, giving a rating of 5/5:

"I wanted an app that will let me do this; I don't have to repaint the specific region with pixel by pixel, only pick regions that I want to be in color."

TaiShimizu's FilterStorm
Price: $1.99
Rating: 3 stars
iTunes Store: 

Using a uniquely crafted touch interface, Filterstorm allows for more intuitive editing than its desktop counterparts.  Filterstorm contains a suite of powerful tools including curves manipulation, color correction abilities, noise reduction, unsharp masking, and black and white conversion fine-tuning. It also includes the ability to apply any of the available filters by brush, or to a color range, as well as to the entire image.

On the left side of Filterstorm's toolbar, is a three way switch which controls the editing modes of Filterstorm: Full Image, Brush, and Color Range. Each of these modes allows you to apply your filters in its own unique manner and in conjuction serve to get you the perfect picture.  Whatever mode you pick, you have a number of the most important photo editing abilities at your fingertips. Of course, Filterstorm includes a curves tool, and it goes beyond that of popular photo editors by giving you not just RGB adjustments, but curves for luminance as well. If your exposure is close to perfection and editing the curves is overkill, brightness and contrast sliders are also available for simpler editing.  Here're the main features:

  • Ability to apply adjustments to entire image, by brush, or color range
  • Curves: Luminance, RGB, Red, Green, Blue, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow
  • Adjust brush size, softness, and opacity
  • Brightness
  • Contrast
  • Color Balance
  • Saturation
  • Black and white fine-tuning
  • 10-step Visual History, saved between sessions
  • Cropping, with the ability to specify aspect ratio
  • Scaling
  • Rotation (90° increments only)
  • Vignetting
  • Sharpen
  • Tone Map (Simulated HDR)
  • Box Blur (Simulated Boke)
  • Noise Reduction
  • Clone Tool

Here is a user review by Trowa Barton, giving a rating of 5/5:

"Ok first off I don't understand how pol can be giving this program bad reviews.... Ok so it's a little slow while processing changes... Umm have you ever ran programs like photoshop or lightroom even those programs ran on an optimal system can be a little laggy. So I can more than deal with a little lag on my iPad... And as for people saying you can't count on cropping! Your crazy it's so easy to do and no problems at all it just worked. All and all this is an amazing program and a step in the right direction for where I want to see apps going for the iPad! Plus it's a free app hello what more can you ask for!"

Steve Sprang's Brushes
Price: $7.99
Rating: 4 stars
iTunes Store: 

Brushes is a popular painting application designed from scratch for the iPhone and iPod touch. Paintings produced with Brushes have appeared on the cover of The New Yorker on numerous occasions. It has now been redesigned to take full advantage of the larger screen offered by the iPad. Featuring an advanced color picker, high quality brushes, layers, extreme zooming, and a simple yet deep interface, it is a powerful tool for creating original artwork on your mobile device. You can also join the Brushes Flickr group:  http://flickr.com/groups/brushes/

  • High-quality brushes (with an erase mode)
  • Up to 6 Layers (768x1024): reorder, merge, and adjust transparency
  • Layer Blend Modes: Normal, Multiply, Screen, Overlay, and Color
  • Desktop-class color picker (including swatches)
  • Extremely responsive zooming from 50% to 3200%
  • Eyedropper tool
  • Generous level of undo and redo
  • In-app replay of your paintings
  • Import photos (scale, rotate, translate)
  • High resolution export with Brushes Viewer on Mac OS X (http://brushesapp.com/viewer)
  • Upload your paintings directly to Flickr

Here is a user review by Banar, giving a rating of 2/5:

" I love to draw, paint and of course publish my art.  Hmmmm, I would say this program is awesome if I didn't own ArtStudio. I love ArtStudio and use it for some time now. I assumed that if I buy Brushes which costs couple times more I can expect much more from it than from ArtStudio but now I know I was wrong. I don't really understand how one program can cost couple times less and offer more functions, options and of course provide better user experience. I guess the price is not always the best decision maker. ArtStudio should increase or Brushes should decrease its price. If you're looking for program to draw on your iPhone or iPad go with ArtStudio ($0.99) or Sketchbook ($7.99). Sketchbook has great brush variety and many more features as well."

Adobe's Photoshop Express

Price: Free
Rating: 3.5 stars
iTunes Store: 

Adobe Photoshop Express for iPad and iPhone (formerly known as Photoshop.com Mobile) brings quick and easy photo editing organizing and sharing technology to the iPad with functions such as Crop, Rotate and Flip, as well as effects like Vibrant, Pop, Border and Vignette. It comes with one touch, adjustments to exposure, saturation, tint and black & white.

The app lets you use simple gestures to quickly edit and share photos from your mobile device. You can create a free Photoshop.com account to upload and store 2GB of photos and videos online. Add artistic filters like Soft Focus or Sketch. And never fear: You can undo and redo changes until you get just the look you wan--a copy of your original file is always saved.

Top editing features:
  • Basics: Crop, Straighten, Rotate, and Flip
  • Color: Exposure, Saturation, Tint, Black and White, and Contrast
  • Filters: Sketch, Soft Focus, and Sharpen
  • Effects: Vibrant, Pop, Border, Vignette Blur, Warm Vintage, Rainbow, White Glow, and Soft Black and White
  • Borders: Rectangle, Rounded, Oval, Soft Edge, Vignette, Rough Edge, Halftone, and Film Emulsion

Here is a user review by Stem $ell, giving a rating of 5/5:

"Fantastic ease of use--which is feature numero uno with me--with the latest update now including 90% of what I need on a daily basis... the other 10% of the time I use Juxtaposer (a fun and really well designed compositing program), Photo fx (a bazillion filters n' other cool effects, but way more difficult to use for 'the basics' than Photoshop.com), Face Melter (self explanatory, but way easier to use than similar effects in my desktop version of Photoshop CS3), TiltShiftGen (great for those interesting Lensaby effects with adjustable areas of focus both in size and shape with targeted vignetting), ComicTouch (for adding my allegedly humorous captions), Frame Muse (excellent frame choices, fun--but more of a novelty), and Ransom Letters (for more interesting captioning choices). I also take most pictures with ProCamera (which includes image stabilization via the built-in accellerometers and also a less lossy zoom function--not sure how they pulled that off but it seems to work!), or with TrueHDR (which works amazingly well to produce high dynamic range photos employing two exposures (one too 'dark' and the other overexposed) and then combining the two into a dramatic photo with an incredibly effective 'auto-align' function). 3 megapixel cell-phone captures never looked so good!"

Updated 8/14/2010 - Added Adobe Photoshop Express.
Updated 7/20/2010 - Added Photogene review by MacWorld.
Updated 7/3/2010 - Added Brushes App at $7.99.
Updated 6/16/2010 - Added Reviews & Ratings.
Updated 6/09/2010 - Added Ghostbird PhotoForge App at $4.99, PocketPixels Color Splash App at $1.99 and TaiShimizu FilterStorm App at $1.99

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