Adobe’s Lightroom app for iOS is actually pretty good, but you have to pay for a Creative Cloud subscription to use it.
What if you could have the power of an editing suite like Lightroom without all of the extra fuss? You want just one app for editing pictures on the go, but it needs to be easy to use and full featured.
Enter Darkroom, the hottest new photography app for iPhone.
Developed by ex-Apple and Facebook employees, Darkroom allows you to not only edit photos using desktop-class curve adjustments, but make your own filters.
That’s right: after you tune an image just perfectly, you can save your settings as a filter to use again later. The image you created becomes the preview of the filter along with a name you give it. In an Instagram and VSCO age where filters are simply cut and pasted, it’s nice to have some control over creating your own looks.
“We’ve turned static filters to jumping off points for editing”
“By putting the tools used to make filters in an app, we’ve turned static filters to jumping off points for editing,” said Darkroom engineer Majd Taby. “For the first time, you can capture the perfect tone, and you can create your own filters. The editing tools we offer are carefully chosen and powerful. Everything about Darkroom is designed to be fast and get out of your way.”
I can attest to Darkroom’s speed and helpful design. I’ve been beta testing it for the past few weeks, and it’s the best photo editor I’ve used on the iPhone.
Adjusting highlights, shadows, blacks, midtones, and whites with the RGB Curve tool is great for granular control over your edit. The app’s straighten and cropping tools are also excellent, rivaling even Instagram’s. The history view where you can go back and undo each edit is particularly helpful if you mess up along the way.
Apps like VSCO Cam and Litely are great if you want pre-made filters, but the sky really is the limit with Darkroom. It’s not for everyone, but for those who want a little more control over the editing process, it’s a joy to use.
There are still a couple big negatives (pardon the pun) that I hope get fixed in future updates. You can’t zoom in on photos to see specific areas, which is an annoying failure for an app that prioritizes editing about all else. Images looked compressed when you add them from the Camera Roll, and I was always second guessing if what I had taken was in focus or not.
An iPad version needs to happen. There’s no landscape view either, but since VSCO has yet to support landscape as well, there must be some kind of technical reason for that omission.
Darkroom is free to download, and a $2.99 in-app purchase unlocks the Curves tool.