Oh No! Not Another Photo Editor!
We all like something for free don’t we? Here’s a photo editor with a difference in that it runs inside Firefox or Chrome browsers as well as having versions that run on Android and iOS. Already I can here groans from those that think that running over the web means that it is going to be really slow. Trust me when I say that it is remarkably quick! I have been running it on both a Linux laptop (64bit) and a Windows 7 64bit machine and so far, it functions flawlessly.
Who is this Aimed AT?
My impression is that this is aimed at the hobbyist who may be unwilling or unable to pay out for some of the more heavyweight photo editing software such as Adobe Lightroom®. Those who are familiar with Lightroom will immediately feel at home with this application. Some of the terminology is slightly different but only slightly. It is worth mentioning at this point that although there is no manual per se, it is very intuitive and there is a very useful list of explanations for all the terminology that such software is invariably steeped in. This is available by hitting the Link at the top right marked ‘Information’.
In a nutshell, this is an editor for JPEG PNG and Raw images. I have only used RAW images from Panasonic cameras but there is extensive coverage of other flavours of RAW files claimed. The application is also claimed to support images up to 30 megapixels. It can only export to JPEG.
If you are expecting this software to be like a free version of Lightroom, you will be disappointed but it does do a good job of emulating the Develop Module which I would suspect is what most users will be wanting to concentrate upon.
On the left of the screen, there are options to import and export images. This can be from the file system or a variety of online storage facilities such as Dropbox, Flickr, Box, Facebook etc. Beneath the Input/Export options are two dropdowns.
The first dropdown is called ‘Looks’ and equates roughly to ‘Presets’ in Lightroom. There is an option to add your own preset, however, these are not transferable between platforms.
Next is a dropdown for ‘History’ from which you can navigate back to any point in your edit.
Above your image in the centre of the screen is some basic information about the image. This is followed by options to zoom in and out; zoom to 100%; Zoom to fit screen as well as options to rotate the image left or right and enter fullscreen mode.
To the right of the screen ia histogram which the more experienced will find useful. This is followed by a crop and straighten tool which provides further options to crop to a variety of ratios. Eg 16:9, 4:3 1:1 etc. There is also an option to reset this. This is followed by a Radial Filter and a Graduated Filter button. Completing this section is an Undo and Redo button followed by a button to show the original unedited image whilst the button is pressed.
Then we come to the meat of the application! This is contained in a series of dropdowns each of which have a button to switch the effects off and on. They are as follows:
This contains the following options in the form of sliders; Temperature, Tint; Exposre, Gamma and Contrast; Highlights, Shadows, Whites and Blacks; Clarrity, Vibrance and Saturation.
This provides options to change the Master curve or the Red, Blue or Green channels separately.
The Hue, Saturation and Luminance for all colours can be adjusted separately.
This contains sliders for Highlight Hue and Saturation as well as Shadow Hue and Saturation.
You will find sliders here to control Sharpness and Denoise.
The sliders here allow the user to correct Distortion and ‘Fringing’.
This panel is broken down into three sections. The first has sliders to control the amount and size of Grain. The second controls relate to Vignette with sliders for the amount, feather and highlights. The last section has a slider to control chromatic shift.
It would be easy to real off a list of things that I would like to see added to the application but considering that it is free at the moment, I think that it is pretty complete. If asked, would say that I would like to see a cloning and heal tool along with an option to apply watermarks and maybe a means of red eye correction.
The option to batch export images would be useful.
In conclusion, I would say that Polarr is a very capable photo editor and does not exhibit any sluggishness that I expected from a web application. I can see it being very useful to anyone wishing to make quick adjustments to an image before posting on a Blog or Facebook. It could certainly spell the end of crooked horizons! I feel that both beginners and keen hobbyists could find this application of value.
At the moment, the application is free. Will it remain so? I don’t know. Will there be a ‘Pro’ version? I suspect so.
If you are not committed to commercial editing software, this is worthy of investigation.
Polarr is available from their website at: http://polarr.co