Po­larr Photo Edi­tor

Sur­pris­ingly pow­er­ful, ul­tra-cheap photo edit­ing

Mac Format - - APPLE CHOICE - Re­viewed by DAVE STEVENS ON

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.

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