Photo Editing Apps for the iPad

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Doesn’t matter if you take photos with your iPhone, iPad, point-n-shoot, DSLR, or even your iPad itself, making a good photo into a great photo is often all in the editing. In the last couple years I’ve been doing more and more photo editing on my iPad. Maybe because my Mac is getting a little sluggish or maybe it’s the whole tactile aspect of editing photos on a tablet, but not only enjoy photo editing on my iPad, it’s more efficient as well.

There are a slew of photo editing apps in the App Store, lots of mediocre ones, lots of bad ones, and a few good ones. I’ve had a chance to use many photo editing apps and while not long ago I would have said that you needed to spend a few bucks on a top-notch photo editing app, now…the game is completely different.

Below are a few of the more promising photo editing apps, I’ve used all of them (except for Photoshop Touch) and frankly any of them would be a great choice. I do have some favorites, though, but first, the list:

Snapseed, free

iPhoto, $5

FX Photo Studio HD, $3

Aviary, free

Photoshop Express, free

PhotoPad by ZAGG, free

Photoshop Touch, $10

I put the apps in the order I’d pick from. Yes, I go from free to paid to free and that isn’t an accident. Snapseed was a paid app, but now that Google has made it free, it has to be on the top of my list. Yes, I still like iPhoto better, but why spend $5 when $0 will get you an app that is every bit as good? In truth, my advice is to buy iPhoto, if for no other reason than the close integration with the Camera Roll, PhotoStream, and posting options. Then pick up Snapseed as well to round out your editing toolset. I’ve found the two different approaches to photo editing to be very complimentary and sometimes doing part of the job in one then finishing in the other yields more interesting (and better) results than either used alone.

You might be wondering why I put Aviary (a free app) below FX Photo Studio HD (a paid app), it comes down to app maturity and support. I think Aviary is a good choice, but I find some of the controls odd and if I’m looking for something that neither iPhoto nor Snapseed have, Photo Studio HD often does, but… One thing I don’t like about Photo Studio is the slew of in app purchase options. I think in app purchases are a great idea for a free app and if you can upgrade all at once with all the goodies that’s cool, but I think Photo Studio locks away too many of the goodies behind too many different purchase options. I’d much rather the basic app be $0.99 and then unlock all the filters, frames, and effects for another $4 than the approach they have here.

You might think Photoshop Express would be at the top of the list, but actually I found it to be an overly complicated photo editor. I’ve tried it in a pinch now and then, but I don’t like the interface. Since it is free you can try it and toss it without worry. For the high-end option, Photoshop Touch (remember I haven’t ponyed up for it) would be reserved for the imaging professional who has found all other drawing and editing programs wanting. For most of us, you’ll be happy with any of the other options on the list.

Photo from Flickr by Hugh Lee.