Review: Unified Color HDR Expose 2

Felix Esser The Phoblographer HDR Expose 2 Screenshot 1

It’s been a while since HDR Expose 2 was first released, and we took a first look at the software a while back. HDR Expose 2 is a relatively affordable and easy to use HDR software which still leaves you a lot of options for fine tuning the HDR effect. Anything from a slight dynamic range improvement to over-the-top HDRs with insane colors and local contrast can be achieved with the software. In this review, we take a closer look at its functionality and assess what and who it is suited for.

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First Impressions: Helmut Film Scanning App (Beta)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer First Impressions Helmut (1 of 8)ISO 40001-125 sec at f - 1.0

Today, Helmut launched as a free download in the Android store in its Beta production phase. Helmut is a new app that is touted as being a great way to scan your old film images and has already won an award. To take the best advantage of this app, it is highly recommended that one uses a lightbox. However, there have been DIY hacks involving Macro lenses and flashes before. For this quick test, we used an iPad Mini and a MacBook Pro Retina display.

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First Impressions: Adobe Lightroom 5 Beta

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Adobe Lightroom 5 beta Radial Filter demo (5 of 9)

Today, Adobe is announcing the Lightroom 5 Beta–which is obviously hinting at a newer version of the highly loved program. The new version incorporates a bunch of changes but the biggest ones are the addition of a spot heal/clone brush (no longer just a tool), radial gradients, smart previews that will sync with an external hard drive when hooked up later, a new tool called upright which dramatically fixes perspectives, and much more.

We’ve been testing the program for a couple of days now, and here are our first impressions.

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Review: Adobe Premiere Elements 11

We’ve been testing Adobe Premiere Elements 11 for a couple of months now and it’s been an interesting and sometimes frustrating experience. The program in general, however, is really quite straight forward and we believe that it will make editing easier for all those that only need to do the very basics with a little bit of extra power. Premiere Elements has changed drastically from earlier versions, and I still believe that 8 may have been the best one. Unfortunately, it can’t  handle all of the more powerful codecs that today’s cameras can output.

Here’s a quick summation of our findings over the past couple of months.


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First Impressions: Spyder Print

You have all kinds of pretty pictures on your computer but what happens when you want to print them? Some opt for services like Snapfish or Costco. Otherwise hand off the file to a professional lab like BayPhoto and pay a little more for better service.

Others still endeavor to print their own images. For those so willing, color calibration is a key factor to WYSIWIG (what you see is what you get) results. I’ve struggled with it in the past and was thus excited to try a demo copy of the Spyder Print device.

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Quick First Impressions: Unified Color HDR Expose 2

I am currently reviewing HDR Expose 2 from Unified Color. Never having seriously done HDR photography, this is (almost) totally new to me (I had once briefly experimented with Photomatix before.) Since I am an HDR newbie, it will take me some time to 1) take a couple of actually useable bracketed exposures that can be converted into HDRs and 2) gain experience in using HDR Expose 2 and all of its features, of which many say nothing to me so far. However, I have already taken a quick look at the software and made a quick HDR conversion that I compared with a “faux-DR” conversion made in Lightroom. After the break, please find the original picture (the one that had the most neutral exposure of the series), the Lightroom conversion and the HDR Expose 2 conversion.


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Quick Review: Chris Martin’s Vintage Film Fades Lightroom Presets

A while ago, I tested out Chris Martin’s vintage film fade presets. Upon initially trying them out, I thought that they were two of the most versatile presets available out there in that they can work with any photo with any exposure or color setting to create some retro-grade gorgeousness.

After a while of testing the presets through various review products that have come in and out of my hands, I must say that Chris’s presets are simply genius; and they’ve busted me out of creative binds and blocks very many times.

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Review: Alien Skin Exposure 4

Before this year, the last frame of film I shot was probably 20 years ago, using my blue Mickey Mouse camera. Although as this year began, I found myself being drawn to old school, analog, film photography. I ended up challenging myself to shoot one roll of film, each week, for one year. I called this Project OneRollFifty2.

The more I shot film, the more I loved the look of it. Up until this point, I didn’t really know of any way to replicate these looks in digital photography. You could always take a shot into Photoshop, tweak a bunch of things, add textures, add noise, etc. and attempt to replicate film, but if would definitely be difficult to nail a certain film.

Then I heard about Alien Skin’s Exposure 4 software that mimics hundreds of different films and I had to give it a try. Alienskin says, “The result is a photo that looks like it was made by a human, not a computer”. Read on to see if they’re right.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog posting by Travis Lawton. You can find more of his work on his website at Travis Lawton Photography as well as his blog at The Lawtographer.

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Review: Perfectly Clear for Android

We’ve given our first impressions on Perfectly Clear for Android, put it up against its Lightroom counterpart, and also reviewed its iPad app. For the past two weeks we’ve been testing the app quite a bit. As what can arguably be called the Anti-Instagram due to the fact that it works to beautify your images, Perfectly Clear is also an app that shows potential of much more promise if a few kinks are ironed out.

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First Impressions: Vintage Film Fade Presets by Chris Martin

Photographer Chris Martin is extremely famous, and now he has released his own Lightroom and Photoshop Presets. We’ve talked about film simulation presets before in addition to reviewing CameraBag 2 and DXO Mark’s package, but Chris’s presets have to really be amongst the smartest I’ve ever played with providing you’ve mastered the dark art of metering and obtained a proper exposure beforehand.

From what i can tell so far, it basically takes your photos, analyzes the histogram, and does what it needs to to make it look like film that was pushed quite a bit. It gives you two different presets: color faded and black and white faded. Here are some samples; but we’ve got a full review in the works.


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Quick Review: ASMP Model Release App

Recently, I received an email from a reader asking about Model Releases. So when do you use them? Generally, if it s a shoot where another company is paying you to do the work, if you’re in a private setting, or if you’re shooting in public but for commercial reasons. If not, then don’t worry about it.

Thankfully, ASMP recently created an iPhone and iPad app for just the situation. They have converted its standard Model and property release into an easy to use app form. The releases use standard release language, relevant to most still and motion projects that photographers might license. With the app, models (and parents or guardians of minors who are subjects of a photo), property owners and witnesses can sign the release using a finger or stylus on the touch screen just like they’re using paper.

A signed release indicates they have given consent to be photographed and given permission to the photographer to use the image. Each release includes fields which can be customized for entering information on the model or property. Here’s a quick tour of the app.

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First Impressions: Perfectly Clear for Android

Perfectly Clear for Android was announced about a week ago from this posting. We’ve previously reviewed the Lightroom Plug-In, and when the Android version was announced, I thought to myself, “This is probably the perfect platform for it.” Why? Well, no phone shoots RAW, and one has to understand that an app can only take your photos so far but it will possibly dramatically improve those from a phone.

In many ways, one can describe Perfectly Clear as the Anti-Instagram: no vintage filters to warm your heart up but instead highly processed algorithms to help give you better photos.


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Review: Tiffen Photo fx For iPhone

I consider myself quite the iPhone photo enthusiast with folders of apps and lenses. Amongst the large quantity of apps that I already own, this app, surprisingly, wasn’t one of them. I have spent a bit of time with Photo FX and I will share my opinion on its editing abilities. Continue reading…

Video Review: Tiffen Photo fx 5 Ultra For iPad

Tiffen Photo fx 5 Ultra is a very sophisticated photo editing app for the iPad. Bigger sibling to the Photo fx 5 app for the iPhone, Photo fx 5 Ultra comes with a plethora of image manipulating algorithms which mostly imitate photographic filters like grad filters, diffusion filters etc. (Tiffen being mainly a filter manufacturer.) However, Photo fx Ultra also sports some basic editing tools that let you crop and rotate your pictures as well as tune colors, contrats, levels etc. In this video review, we take a closer look at the manifold options Photo fx Ultra has to offer.

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Review: DxO Optics Pro

DxO Optics Pro Layout

DxO Optics Pro Layout

Now that everyone and their mother has a digital camera capable of taking hundreds and even thousands of pictures in one sitting, the next logical step is a way to store and organize those images. And because of this, photo management software was born. If you asked most photographers, “What are the different photo management software packages out there?”, I bet 97% of them would only be able to tell you one answer; Adobe Lightroom.

While Lightroom does have a pretty large stake in this arena, there are a few companies out there trying to eat some of Adobe’s piece of the pie. One such company is DxO Image Science with their product, DxO Optics Pro which is currently at version 7.5. So how does it compete with the big boy on the block? Read on to see what we think.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog posting by Travis Lawton. You can find more of his work on his website at Travis Lawton Photography as well as his blog at The Lawtographer.

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Review: DxO FilmPack 3

DxO FilmPack 3 is the latest iteration of DxO’s film emulating software that processes digital images to look like they were taken with a particular brand of photographic film. The software comes as a stand-alone version as well as a plug-in for Lightroom and Photoshop, and is able to emulate a couple dozen different color slide, color negative and black-and-white films. In this review, we take a look at what the software has to offer, and compare it to similar products from other developers.

If you’re interested in a quick and easy solution to give your pictures a unique look, without the need of extensive knowledge in post-processing, then read on after the jump.

If you think this stuff is only for hipsters and show-offs, then please skip this article and go directly ahead to Is The Film Revival Just Another Fad?

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App Review: Instagram for Android Mobile Devices

When it was launched for Android devices, Instagram grew immensely. Though the app didn’t have all the functionality of the iPhone app out of the box, it did indeed receive updates to make it more on par with its iOS version. The app is still very popular on the Google play store and can keep a photographer creative and spontaneous.

There is a very good reason why Facebook paid a hefty sum of money for Instagram

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Review: Adobe Lightroom 4

Adobe’s Lightroom series of products have often been championed as the best software out there for photographers to use for most jobs. Indeed, most of the staff uses Lightroom. When the Beta came out, I sat there at a cross-roads. I’ve used Capture One Pro before, and loved it. The color rendering engine blew my mind away. It still does in many ways. But Lightroom has the advantage of quicker updates for various RAW files types from newer cameras.

Then Adobe provided a review copy of Lightroom 4 for me for evaluation; and I started to compare the two much more.

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Sometimes Us Editors Mess Up Too: The Team from SnapHeal Schools Us On Fixing an Image

Sometimes we as editors make mistakes. We recently reviewed Snapheal, the software that essentially makes content awareness editing super simple and works rather well. In our review, we weren’t quite able to get it to work with one image. However, we sent the image to the team over there for them to try; and they got it.

We apologize for the error, and I thought it really deserved its own full post. Snapheal is available in the Mac App Store; and is available only for those that bow down to our overlord Tim Cook.