Polarr Photo Editor
Surprisingly powerful, ultra-cheap photo editing
Polarr has an extension for using its tools
from within OS X’s Photos
£3.99 FROM Polarr, polarr.co needs OS X 10.10 or higher
Applications such as Photoshop and Affinity Photo offer users vast numbers of tools that often go unnoticed. Even the more streamlined Lightroom offers plenty of high-end features that many occasional hobbyists won’t use.
On first glance, Polarr looks a lot like a cut-down version of Lightroom. Gone are the library, web gallery and book creation; instead you get over 60 pre-baked filters and a set of more advanced tools. Photo editing standards such as curves, sliders for hue, saturation and luminance, and controls for contrast, vibrance and saturation all make an appearance. Anyone coming from Lightroom should feel familiar with the controls – Polarr even includes a Dehaze tool. You also get Lightroom staples such as the useful gradient filter, as well as a radial mask. For those shy of experience, a series of tutorials walk you through colour-correcting and perfecting images to get you started. The benefits for beginners continue with the Adjustments Guide, a set of samples showing your original image, plus what would happen to it if you used sliders such as Temp, Tint and so on. Tools across the top let you see your image compared to its original state, while unlimited undo steps encourage experimentation.
Attention to detail
It all works really well. Performance is excellent, with our chosen changes applied almost instantly. It pays to be attentive to detail, though: some of Polarr’s tools are prone to creating halos around certain photographic elements, while dehaze can be problematic. But all photo editors can produce dodgy-looking images if used cack-handedly.
Reaching the limits of Polarr will take some time, particularly if you’re looking for more horsepower for editing iPhone photos. But for the more ambitious, certain missing controls make their absence felt. DSLR users will miss a dust spot or healing tool. You can crop an image freely – without selecting an aspect ratio – but there’s no facility to enter a custom ratio. The missing tools won’t be a huge blow to hobbyists, but would-be pros might find themselves frustrated.
Images that are imported when you close the app are saved in Polarr’s cache, so you can begin working on a shot and return to it later. You can open multiple images at once but you can’t apply the same filter to them at the same time. You can, however, open multiple images, edit them, and export them as a batch. Polarr also comes with an extension for OS X’s Photos app, so you can edit directly from Photos without opening the main app.
For advanced users, Polarr’s feature limitations will likely mean it won’t quite fit the bill. But if you’re a Photos user looking for more power and flexibility in your editing, Polarr should certainly deliver.
Unlimited undo steps should make Polarr attractive to beginners and encourage fearless experimentation.