Head to Head to Head

When checking out images on my computer, I would end up trying out various filters in order to see which one would make the image stand out. I’m always about options, so that’s why I first put together a multi-app review to see which one worked for me.

I’m becoming a fan of the head to head application reviews (in this case, head to head to head). It’s what everyone tries to figure out and what everyone asks; which one is better. Obviously, it’s all about personal preference. When I first put together this type of review for image editing applications, it was difficult to decide which ones should be pitted against each other. As time marches on, more and more developers release applications that offer generally the same thing. The trick is to know how each one fits into your needs. For me, the idea this time, was to focus on apps that offered image filtering options and the decision was to check out FilterLab, InstaPhoto and the new Photo Studio beta. Who would submit to the stronger Sepia? Who could eviscerate with their Vintage? Who would leave the others black and blue with their Black and White? Take a look at the comparison.

Photo Studio (Beta)

Photo Studio

Rating in BlackBerry App World: 4/5

Cost: Free

The application is pretty bare bones when it comes to layout. The menu system at the bottom is in greyscale and translucent; enabling you to view the entire image full screen without missing any small detail. It also helps to eliminate distracting backgrounds. As you roll over the menu options, they come alive with colour.

The menu consists of the following options Effects (Filters), Frames, Change Colours, Brightness, Contrast, Hue, Saturation, Resize, Rotate, Crop and Red Eyes. Creating a change does take some time, so don’t expect an instantaneous response. Applying a slight brightness increase will take 10 seconds from executing the command until done, while changing colours only needs 3 to 5 seconds. When working with crop or reducing the red eye effect, Photo Studio will display with height and width of the selection window in pixels. Photo Studio doesn’t incorporate a preview image to see the changes before they are made, but with the way the app allows adjustments makes it easy to reverse them. For the most part, the adjustment menus consist of a button you drag along a bar with a numerical value displayed on the right. To go back to the original image, you need only to set the bar back to zero. A type of preview is available by looking at the button associated with a filter. There are roughly 62 different types of filters/effects to choose from. Each time you use one, it’s dropped to the front of the list, as though the app assumes it’s going to be your new favourite. To put a finishing touch on your latest masterpiece, you can choose from a dozen frames, ranging from a colourful floral display, to a simple black frame.

Photo Studio includes a second icon on your home screen: Camera +. It eliminates a couple of steps between capturing an image and editing it. Instead of going to the Editor Icon and selecting the camera (where the captured image is automatically transferred to Photo Studio), you Click on Camera + and take a picture. Camera Plus will then present 3 buttons of its own; delete or take another picture (just as you would with your native camera app) or transfer it to the Editor. If you are searching through existing images from your media folders, highlight an image and select ‘Edit with Photo Studio’ from the menu.

Photo Studio Sample

More information/Download Photo Studio



Rating in BlackBerry App World: 3.5/5

Cost: $0.99

FilterLab offers more of an attitude when it comes to the UI, with a stylized brick wall background. Through FilterLab, you can filter existing photos or launch the camera to take a new one. Once an image is captured, there is a five second delay experienced as the app is “preparing the image to be filtered”. The same is experienced if you choose an existing image by selecting “Send to FilterLab”.

16 different types of filters are available with this application, with names ranging from “The Shore” to “1984”. Some filters, like “Silver Screen”, not only apply a filter, but graphics as well. In this case, the original image is cropped automatically and put on a projector screen, appearing to be coming from the included projector.

Unfortunately, there isn’t an option to crop an image on your own. When applying a filter, there is only a 2-3 second delay before you are redirected to the results screen. Once saved, your filtered images will now appear on the main page of FilterLab. Using the touch screen or trackpad, you can easily scroll through them, though not as smoothly as you can from your media folder. An option in the settings menu allows you to resize the images, choose from; 240x240, 480x480 or 764x764.

FilterLab also comes packed with multiple sharing options. You can sign in and upload your images to Twitter (TwitPic) or Facebook, send off as an email attachment or send it off to one of your BlackBerry Messenger contacts. I would like to have seen an option to add captions to photos, as well.

FilterLab sample

More information/Download FilterLab



Rating in CrackBerry App Store: 4/5

Rating in BlackBerry App World: 4/5

Cost: $2.99

While FilterLab sports a brick wall background, InstaPhoto likes to wear leather. I’m not judging! The main screen lets you access your gallery of filtered images, view what was recently posted to Twitter or access the camera or image folders to start filtering. When selecting an existing image, the first thing you have to do is crop the image – you don’t have a choice (I don’t like having a lack of choice either). You can rotate the image however. What I do like is the fact that you can actually preview your image as you scroll through 26 various filter types - from Tilt-Shift to HUD. Some filters include additional graphics like the Mugshot, Periscope or Polaroid filters. This preview process varies between 10 to 30 seconds. Choose a filter and Instaphoto will take a few seconds to render the image. Once done, you are then prompted to upload your image to Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr, with an option to include a caption. I did find that the app would become unresponsive for a few minutes if I cancelled an image rendering in progress, but I chalk that up to the app getting upset with me and giving me the silent treatment.

InstaPhoto also has a QuickPost option, where you can set your favourite filter, and instantly post images taken to any of the above mentioned social networking sites. For ease of use, set your convenience key to the Quick Post option.

InstaPhoto sample

More information/Download InstaPhoto


It was difficult to determine a clear winner when it came to these three applications. While one app was a clear winner in more filter types, other apps gave more options as to what to do with them. If I had to choose, I would have to go with InstaPhoto. My reason behind this is the app gives me a combination of a moderate list of filters, sharing options and convenience key accessiblity. With that said, I do recommend you give each of these apps some consideration when looking for a great way to add some style to your images. Do you agree or disagree? Which app caught your fancy? Speak up!

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