My Mac has a handful of photo editor apps. Photoshop, Lightroom, the various MacPhun packages. There is no shortage of excellent Mac applications to improve, enhance, tweak, and produce stunning photos. What about iPhone? Timothy J. Seppala has a few but not enough:
There’s no shortage of photo-editing apps for mobile devices. But if you want to graduate beyond Instagram filters, the sheer number of listings on the App Store or Google Play can be overwhelming.
Indeed. I have a folder on my iPhone with a couple of dozen such photo tweaking apps; each a bit different, some unique, some free and more than a few with a price tag, all do a few things to photos that Apple’s own Photos app does not.
The Photos app on iOS got a big upgrade with iOS 11 and works well for basics like adjusting exposure, cropping and applying a quick filter, but doing anything more than that is tough.
It’s not so much tough as it is impossible. Photos on iPhone and Mac only does so much to a photo while Photoshop, Luminar, Aurora, and many others for the Mac can do far more. For a price that usually exceeds anything you’ll use on an iPhone to tweak a photo.
The differences between photo enhancement on Mac vs. iPhone are notable. The iPhone has higher PPI– pixels per inch, and the iPhone X’s display is as good as a mobile display can get, so photos have a visual vibrance not found on any Apple device.
The iPhone X’s display (and, frankly, iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, iPhone 8 and 8 Plus have LCD displays indistinguishable from perfect) is excellent, and the variety of photo enhancement apps cannot be match on the Mac.
What’s the problem?
When I take a photo on iPhone X that needs tweaks or enhancements, I enter into photo editor misery for two reasons, both of which are easily overcome by some iOS photo apps. The first is screen real estate.
You just can’t do this kind of thing on an iPhone screen.
If you haven’t used a 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display, then you don’t fully appreciate what high resolution screen real estate can do for a photo. Going backwards to edit a photo– even on a newer MacBook feels like, well, going backwards. 27-inches of high res cannot be equalled by 5-inches of OLED no matter how hard you try.
The second is the depth of tools on Mac applications. This is where the line is drawn. It’s not that professionals cannot use iPhone or iPad to enhance photos, but Mac apps from Photoshop to Aurora to Luminar and others have a depth of tools that put to shame the average Mac photo enhancement app. For a price.
The differences between platforms also become the differences between professional and consumer grade photographer. iPhone X is a very good camera and a good place to perform convenient, in-the-field photo enhancements. Mobile results, however, are not the same as what a professional photographer can do on a Mac.
Point and shoot is here to stay. Photos and movies from iPhone have improved at an amazing rate in recent years; often to the point where people cannot tell the difference between a DSLR and an iPhone. But there are differences and they are distinct. Just as there are differences between a sedan and a truck.
I carry both. I use both. But for serious work the iPhone stays in the pocket. This year.