Android App Review – Photo Enhance Pro HD

Applications or ‘apps’ are the things that make smartphones and tablets more fun and more useful.  In an earlier article, I looked at the camera in the new Samsung Galaxy S II LTE.  In this article, I’m going to walk you through an app to go along with the camera – Photo Enhance Pro HD.  This is a paid app but there is a slightly stripped down free version as well.  The phone comes with a stock photo editor app but often third party apps have enhanced functionality or more features.

Launching Photo Enhance Pro HD you’re presented with the screen below that lets you access your gallery of images.  In my case, I have the standard preloaded gallery and a third party gallery installed so it shows both.

Photo Enhance Pro HD Launch Screen (click for larger version)

Opening an image, you press the Menu button on the bezel of the phone to start working.  The screen grab below shows you what options are available.

Photo Enhance Pro HD Options (click for larger version)

Enhancement is what the app developer refers to as tonemapping.  It operates as a shadow recovery tool, brightening shadow areas but not touching highlights.

Photo Enhance Pro HD Enhancement Menu (click for larger version)

Crop brings up a crop box that you can adjust at two corners and move around within the image.  It doesn’t allow you to rotate the crop box (would be a nice feature) and you can’t move both anchor points simultaneously (would also be a nice feature).  Clicking the checkmark processes the crop.

Photo Enhance Pro HD Crop (click for larger version)

There is no specific ‘undo’ function (would be nice to have).  In order to ‘undo’ a crop or any other edit, you click Menu>Open and reopen the image from the gallery.  The app only saves when you choose and doesn’t overwrite the original image so you can always go back to that original.  To save an image, touch Menu>More>Save.

Clicking Menu>More>Settings opens up a screen that allows you to customise the app a bit.  For a new user, the ‘Pop-up Tips’ might be a good idea.  Saturate shadows also seems to work better turned on in the images I worked with.

Photo Enhance Pro HD Settings (click for larger version)

Back to the main screen, clicking Menu>Adjust opens up the editing tools.  You have four tools to work with:  Exposure or Brightness; Contrast; Saturation; and White Balance.

Photo Enhance Pro HD Adjust Tools (click for larger version)

The inclusion of the white balance tool is nice.  We’ll see a little further on how well it works.  Again, touching the checkmark applies the chosen adjustments.  The sliders appear to be more sensitive in terms of adjustment steps than the stock editing app.  Because the sliders and track points are small, grabbing the track point to move the slider can be a bit difficult.  It also seems – at least in my case – that you have to touch on the upper part of the track point.  I don’t know if the configuration of the sliders/track points or where they need to be touched to activate can be easily changed but this might be worth looking into.  Perhaps a double touch, one to activate the specific adjustment which would make the slider larger and then a second to move the track point could work.

Once you’ve applied any edit to the image, touching the screen will show the original.  You can touch/release to toggle the original and edited version.  Remember, these edits are not locked in till you actually save the image so you can go back and make more adjustments.

That’s an overview of navigating the app.  How well does it work?  I worked through a few images.  Before and after examples are below.

In this first pair, the original is on the left and the edited version is on the right.  I applied Enhancement at the High Impact setting, boosted saturation, reduced contrast and applied a cooler white balance.

Photo Enhance Pro HD - Original Left, Edited Right (click for larger version)

The edited result is definitely better.  The colours in the plate are more accurate.  The white of the plate is perhaps a bit magenta but it’s definitely better than the original.  There’s a bit more shadow detail in the edited version as well.

Photo Enhance Pro HD - Original Left, Edited Right (click for larger version)

On this second set, I applied Enhancement at the High Impact Setting, boosted saturation, reduced contrast and warmed the white balance.  Again, it’s better than the original.  The warmth in most of the image is fine.  The water is a bit off.  Shadows have been opened up nicely and as you can see in the 100% crop below there hasn’t been a marked increase in the appearance of noise from opening those shadows.

Photo Enhance Pro HD - Shadow Noise Detail (click for larger version)

Keeping in mind that you’re working on JPEG images, the results with this editing app are pretty good.  It gives you the basics in terms of editing tools.  The Enhancement feature is nice.  I’d advise staying away from the Maximum setting as that can make things pretty ugly pretty fast.  There are a few tweaks that would make it a bit better as noted above and the introduction of a Sharpening feature of some sort would also be a nice addition.

Have you tried it?  If so, what do you think?  What other Android apps for photography have you used?  Feedback always welcomed.

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