I have way too many photo Apps for my iPad. If somebody tells me about a good one—I go download it and give it a shot right away, and that’s how I found some of my favorites, like Photogene, Filterstorm Pro, and Photosmith—all excellent apps—the best of breed. However, although it has only been out a few days, Nik Software’s new Snapseed is already my go-to photo app, and my hands down favorite, for five reasons:

(1) They nailed the iPad experience
The way Nik used the iPad’s touch controls is brilliant. I have to imagine when Apple themselves first saw this they said, “Yeah, this is the type of stuff we hoped developers would tap into.” It feels immersive, intuitive, and more like you’re crafting something, rather than just moving sliders. It sounds silly as I write this, but it feels very organic, like you’re creating the effects on the fly, and using it you feel more like an artist and less like a post-processor. A brilliant interface, and I imagine others will follow their lead.

(2) The quality of their effects are outstanding
A big buzz right now for iPad photo apps are one-click effects, but Nik’s presets are among the very best. Great looking one-click effects, but the ability to tweak those so easily so create your own custom effects takes it up a big notch.

(3) It’s much deeper than it looks
At first glance, it seems like there’s a few filters, a few adjustments, some frames and textures. However, don’t let the simple,  clean interface fool you—this App is like an onion, and you just keep peeling away layers to find more and more depth. I think that’s part of the strengh of the App—-you can just do your thing and keep the power tucked out of site, or dig in and really do some serious editing. The fact that Viveza-type controls are in Snapseed just blows my mind.

(4) The Fun Factor
This App is just plain fun. It’s probably the most fun I’ve had using an iPad photo app yet, and I found myself spending more time experimenting and playing with Snapseed than any other. Plus, it has all the online sharing features any cool photo app would have these days.

(5) The price is too right.
If this were a desktop App, it would cost over $100. Maybe more. And people would buy it. A lot of them. I would buy it as a Photoshop plug-in in a heartbeat, but it’s a standalone App for the iPad, and costs only $5 bucks. That is insane. Seriously.

Anyway, as you can see I’m pretty psyched about Snapseed, but I’m not alone—the buzz it is generating is amazing. For those of you that already have Snapseed, let me know what you think. For everybody else, here’s a link to it on the iTunes Store, and here’s where you can go and watch some videos about it over at Nik’s site.

About The Author

Scott is the President of KelbyOne, an online educational community for Photographers, Photoshop and Lightroom users. He's editor and publisher of Photoshop User Magazine, Conference Technical Chair for the Photoshop World Conference & Expo, and the author of a string of bestselling Photoshop, Lightroom, and photography books.


  1. Looks like another CAKB program from Nik. Just wish I had an iPad! (Scott, can you check your closet again?).


  2. Just downloaded this app, OMG m in love! I feel so much more confident traveling w/o a laptop with this app.

  3. Just smiling quietly … that first review on iTunes just happens to be mine ;-) Huge Nik fan and Snapseed sure doesn’t disappoint

  4. I’m a big fan of Nik Filters on my Mac and use them quite often. That said, I’m very happy to have my tools now on the iPad for doing a quick develop. Thumbs up for App’s like Snapseed.

  5. I’ve downloaded it and just love it, it’s fun and creative

  6. I snapped (bad pun) up Snapseed the day it came out and you’re right. It’s a lot of fun and power. First thing I did was take one of my shots and see if I could “improve” it. A couple finger movements later and I said “damn, I’ve got to go back to my original PSD and do the same tweeks to the “big picture”. Really handy way to experiment with changes to waht I think are finished images.

  7. I agree, Scott. I installed this puppy the moment NIK announced it on Facebook, figuring $5 isn’t that much to lose. Dude, this thing is everything you say it is. I’ll probably ditch most of my other photo apps…it is that good.

  8. I watched Nik’s webinar last week introducing Snapseed and Scott ain’t kidding. This app looks fantastic! For five bucks you can’t go wrong.

    If the five bucks is still a little too steep for you:
    1. Snag one of Scott’s camera gear giveaways mentioned above.
    2. Post your Kelby Kamera Kloset Klutter Kleanout item on eBay.
    3. Take the buck-fifty you make from the eBay sale and stick it under your mattress.
    4. Sell lemonade from the end of your driveway and in no time you’ll have the other $3.50 you need.
    5. Visit the App store and snag your copy of Snapseed.

    It doesn’t get any easier folks!

  9. Looks pretty cool I haven’t tried it yet. I’m not yet an edit my photos on the ipad guy. But this isn’t trying to stir the pot. Once iOS 5 comes out in the fall and our iPhones will just iCloud our photos to the iPad then this will be iAwesome!!

  10. The day it came out I grabbed it. I knew Nik would do it the right way. I feel as if I can take 7-8 apps off my iPad.

  11. I love using the app and created this over the weekend while at Ocracoke Island. http://500px.com/photo/858289

  12. I just wished it did raw :( that way I could leave my laptop at home when I travel. Hoping that and Flickr uploading is in a soon to be released update :)

  13. Oh no, another recommendation from Scott. Oh well, there goes another five bucks.

  14. I was going to write a review for this on my blog but Scott really nailed it. The app is very unassuming until you actually put your fingers on your screen and then it comes alive with all sorts of tweaks and options. I also have to agree that the U-Point technology that is so useful in Nik’s other plug-ins is simply fantastic on the iPad. If you haven’t yet checked out the video demonstrations you should go to the Nik Software website and see for yourself. It’s just an incredible value for the dollar.

  15. Scott
    Sent you an email about snapseed this weekend. This may be the one we have been waiting for.

  16. This app is nice. Many cool filters and such. However, where is the Sharpening adjustment? I would really like to see that added to the Selective Adjust so I can drop a Sharpening adjustment on my daughter’s eyes.

  17. Great app from what i have seen and read; however, i wonder is an android version being considered? Its sad when a wonderful app is created and greatly received but comes out in only one OS flavor. Yes i want this app and willing to pay for it…but yikes I gots to wait!

  18. I’d be curious to know how people are using the iPad in their workflow. Having bought a few apps and loaded some photos there, it just doesn’t seem to really improve anything for me.

  19. I’m confused. Are people actually using these apps on their to edit and sell their photos instead of Photoshop/Lightroom? Or are these just supposed to be toys?

  20. Great review Scott. As a daily blogger of iPhoneography I too believe that Nik did so many thing right! I loved the iPad connection to the photograph. Having Photoshop and Nik both developing apps for iPhoneographers is making the syncs and those unaware of the possibilities take notice.

  21. I saw this over on Matt’s blog over the weekend, so I checked it out. When I saw it was only $5, I figured there couldn’t be much to it. I went to Nik’s website and read up on it. Wow. I couldn’t believe what they were saying it could do…and only for $5. I had to try it myself. I figured, what the heck, it’s only $5. Again…WOW. It does what they say it will do. Amazing. I still can’t believe it’s only $5. It’s simple to use and fun. Right now, the only “gotcha” I see is that it only works w/ jpg files. Otherwise, it’s simply amazing. $5. Geez…..

  22. The moment I get my iPad 2, this will be the first app I’ll buy :) Looks awsome for editing photos I took with my iPhone that will get pushed to the iPad using iCloud :D

    And maybe for some vacation snapshots I take with my dSLR. Serious editing will still be done in Photoshop on my Mac.

  23. Is this app still fun if you only have an iPad 1 without the camera? I mean, you would then have to sync your photos to the iPad to edit them with Snapseed and if you’re already using the photos on your computer, why not just edit them with your usual tools and on the color-calibrated screen?

    (I reserve the right to be missing the point completely – but I also reserve the right to be corrected if that’s the case :) )

    • From where I sit they are two different animals. The ipad and assorted applications, Snapseed being one, can have a totally different effect on an image. Mostly the ability to manage an image from anywhere you might be is the draw for me – no computer necessary. As for no camera one can easily transfer one or more images via computer, internet or bluetooth. Granted this is all a matter of taste but worth looking into – well worth the price of admission. And this coming from a person who uses high res medium format –

  24. Great Review Scott. As a daily iPhoneography blogger I am excited that Photoshop and now Nik have joined the app world. I am very passionate about motivating and inspiring others to the photographic possibilities of the iPhone and apps. The apps are powerful, addictive and portable tools each iPhone user has with them at all times.

  25. Hey Scott. Dunno if you saw this yet. I just got it in my inbox today. Datacolor has come out with, drum roll please…. an iPad calibration tool. I was wondering when they would get around to that since the iPad does not appear to use sRGB. Here’s the link for anyone who cares.


  26. The bar has certainly been raised with this gem of an App from Nik software. Things are starting to look very interesting for the future…first Photosmith now this; the mind boggles what we’ll be doing in a few years.


  27. I just purchased an iPad2 today – haven’t opened the box on it yet, but looking forward to playing around…er, using it productively. Thanks for letting us know about these apps!

  28. It might be a nice app but until it supports RAW it just can’t be that good.

  29. It might be a nice app but until it supports RAW it just can’t be that good.

  30. This may be a great app..but nowhere does it say and no-one seems to have had the problem…it only works on jpeg or tiff files. It does not work with RAW files. How can it be so highly rated without anyone mentioning this?
    NIk website has no FAQs on Snapspeed..only found this out be emailing them!!
    Does no-one use RAW? Do you all use JPEGS?

  31. Hi Scott.

    I’ve been using Snapseed for just over a week and am really impressed in the quality of the exported image. The editing on other Apps when exported always seems a little crude if you know what I mean but Snapseed definitely raises the bar.

    Makes for an interesting future i.e. do you think we’ll be editing client images on our iPads in a few years time??? Food for thought I guess ;)


  32. F%@$#ing awsome app! love it! love it!
    At last an app for what the ipad was born for..
    keep em coming Snapseed… your gonna be a name to watch on the apps scene!

  33. Perfect timing! I held off buying the first gen iPad, ’cause I knew a better one was sure to follow. I’ll be buying the iPad 2 soon – now I’ll have a fabulous app to show off my photos, thanks to Scott and all the positive, upbeat reviews by the rest of you.

    As always, thanks Scott for the superb tips :-)

    Frederic in Montréal

  34. One more app I would recommend is Photo Album- Photobook for iPad. It is full-fledged photo
    organization tool. It automatically creates albums, based on GPS Location data,
    Ratings, Tags, EXIF Data, and Date etc. I highly recommend this app to anyone
    trying to get their photos organized. For more information visit:



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