Review: Photoristic HD iPad editing app

When I first downloaded Photoristic HD to have a go at some editing on an iPad, I was expecting an all-round editing package that would be great for my parents to use to make adjustments to their photos on their iPad. They use a point-and-shoot, record everything in JPEG, my mother has a proclivity to take wonky photos, and my father doesn't understand the concept of 'getting closer' no matter how much I try to impress it upon him. They need a simple but comprehensive editing app. Photoristic HD combines general editing functions (white balance, exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, vibrance, saturation) with advanced colour adjustments and a barrel of filters. It can process images of upto 20 megapixel resolution, and saving and sharing is easy. It sounded promising. So much for my expectations. This was not an app that felt I could present to my parents to help them make their photos look better. It wouldn't meet their needs. But when I got past this disappointment, I realised that Photoristic HD offers something different for iPad editing and it might not be all that bad.


Photoristic is easy to use: you swipe left or right to adjust the values of whichever function you've selected, be it the like of contrast, shadows, or highlights underneath the balance tab, or one of the eight colours sitting beneath the hue, saturation, or luminance tabs. You can convert to black and white with the toggle of a button and you can apply one of a huge selection of filters—black and white options, selective colour choices, and colour filters—with two taps.

I'm not a frequent filter-fyer and I actually found many of Photoristic's too harsh or intense for my tastes. I wouldn't want to let my parents loose with these. All their photos would come out too brash, too sharp, too in-your-face. Photoristic does, however, let you save your own presets, which is moving well beyond the realm of my parents' use, but does present it in a different light.

The Polar Sun preset doesn't do it for me

This gives you the chance to combine its split tone function, colour controls, and the adjustments in the balance tab to create your own effects. Now that I've taken a step back, I wouldn't hesitate to name Photoristic's fine colour control and ability to save presets as its most valuable feature. No, it isn't an all-round editing package; it's something else. I was able to create my own cross-processed effects or add a bit of golden hour magic to a photo taken nowhen near sunset or sunrise. And I was able to save these as presets to apply to any photo I process through the app.


Having fun with split toning

There are buttons that allow you to sequentially undo your previous edits or compare your current version to your original image. When you're content with your handiwork you can save your image to your photo library or Dropbox, email it onwards, send it to print, or share it to Facebook or Twitter.

Should you get a bit stuck, the help button is towards the top left corner.

The most critical omission that prevents Photoristic from being a comprehensive editing package is a crop and rotate feature. With every photo that I put through the app I felt frustrated that I was unable to straighten it or slice off a few extraneous pixels. And my parents, with their skewed horizons and distant subjects, definitely need it. It's all very well being able to bring out the blue of a sky, tone down the red of someone's nail polish, or help negate a green cast, but crop and rotate is one of the basic functions that we rely on in an editing suite.

Standard edits are fine, but oh for the love of a crop function

I was so surprised by the omission that I emailed the developers to check that I hadn't missed it anywhere. They confirmed that there isn't a crop and rotate function yet, but it is expected in a future iteration.

When you realise that Photoristic isn't a basic editing app but instead offers more sophiscated controls to adjust colour and create your own filters for your photos, it takes on a different complexion. If you're looking for an iPad app to let you take control of your photos' colour effects and filters, then do consider downloading Photoristic. It's £2.99 in the UK and $4.99 in the US.

I shan't be showing my parents how to use it.

(All photos courtesy of my parents.)