Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

App of the Week: Snapheal

Screenshot of Snapheal for Mac

Snapheal is another image editing tool, but one that focusses on re-touching of photos. If you have objects or people in your photos that you want to remove, or blemishes from a dirty camera lens, then Snapheal is a relatively easy way to remove them. It will accept a variety of image formats, including JPEG, TIFF, PNG and even RAW files.

In the example above, I took this photo of a Sumatran Tiger, and removed the leaves from in front of its face. Whilst not perfect, it did well to cope with the tiger’s markings in the background and, at least in my opinion, looks better than the original on the left. Snapheal offers three different erasing modes, with hints about which one should be most suitable, but you can easily try all three to see which one works best. The before/after mode, as shown in the screenshot, is very useful too.

As well as removing artefacts, you can also selectively adjust the exposure and contrast of parts of photos. This is useful in cases where you have a light foreground and a dark background, for example. You can also do this for the whole photo if you prefer, using basically the same controls as iPhoto.

Once you’re happy, photos can be exported to a variety of image formats (JPEG, JPEG2000, PNG and many others), sent to iPhoto, Aperture, Lightroom or Photoshop, or one of developer MacPhun’s other products. And photos can be easily shared on social media, with Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Tumblr supported, as well as good old email.

It can be a little slow at making changes, especially if you’re editing RAW images, with some operations taking around a minute on my four year old Mac Mini. Thankfully it shows a progress bar, rather than locking up, and it even displays various ‘awesome facts’ whilst you wait.

A more advanced version, Snapheal Pro, has more powerful re-touching tools and has plugins that can integrate with the likes of iPhoto and Photoshop. However, it is more than twice the price.

Whilst iPhoto is capable of basic photo re-touching, Snapheal is significantly more powerful and therefore better for more complex editing. The interface is much simpler than the likes of Photoshop and Pixelmator (with which Snapheal sadly doesn’t integrate in any way) and therefore the learning curve is much shallower, especially for people like me who rarely use such programs. It also has a friendly feel to it, making it more enjoyable to use, although professionals may find it somewhat limiting.

Snapheal costs £13, and is available for Mac OS X from the Mac App Store.

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