Photo App Review: PhotoToaster
Price: $2.99, introductory priced at $0.99 for a limited time
Bottom Line: A simple, fast, easy to use photo editor, but it’s layered in its complexity. A well-designed photo app for a wide range of iPhoneographers.
PhotoToaster by East Coast Pixels, Inc. is a new iPhone photo app that merges one-click processing with useful image editing tools and the power of being able to customize all aspects of filter presets. On top of that, it’s wrapped up in a fun user interface that’s really easy to use.
PhotoToaster is a fast, new photo editor with a lot features and filters. It’s got plenty of easy, one-click adjustments and filters, all clearly labeled. But it’s also got a fairly comprehensive toolset for users who want to custom tweak some presets or just go in for precise image editing control.
PhotoToaster is one the surface a simple, easy to use app, but it’s layered in its complexity. It starts with dozens of preset effects and adjustments. I like how they are first organized by effects or adjustment, and then further broken down in each main category.
There are four categories — lighting, effects (which is more of an image editor than effects sliders), vignette and borders. Each control features several presets that are relevant to the control at hand. The lighting control has several presetrs to compensate for various bad lighting situations. The FX control auto sharpens and has several black & white, monochrome and color enhancements. The vignette control features several vignette styles that are great as is or can be used as a starting point.
In addition to the several presets, each tool has control overrides for custom precise color adjustments. Between the lighting and effects sliders, you’ll be able to make nearly any color and exposure adjustments. Controls are slider-based to keep it easy. This requires you to eyeball your corrections onscreen. I’d love to see a histogram-based levels-style adjustments along the lines of Photogene’s.
I really like the vignette tool. It adjusts logically — that is, it behaves the way I expected it to when I adjusted the sliders. Starting from one of the presets was easy and quickly gave me the vignette I want. It’s got a great blure — one of the best I’ve used. It’s got a nice, very smooth gradation without the hard drop off that many vignette tools seem to have.
Like what you’ve created? Saving a preset to use again is as easy as pressing the “Add New…” in the global effects tab.
In addition to the adjustment presets, there are a ton of global effects presets which combine features from all of the tool effects. They are neatly organized into four categories in this release — Basic, Deluxe, Supreme and user-created. Each category has several preset effects and each one can be tweaked by going back into the individual tools. If you have a large arsenal of iPhone photo apps, there isn’t anything here that you don’t already have. What separates PhotoToaster’s filters from the rest, though, it how easy it is to create and add your own presets. It’s mostly slider-based and few Photoshop skills are needed.
PhotoToaster supports greater than the 5 MP resolution of the iPhone 4. UPDATED 06.19.11 @ 19:40: I got it to save up to 2896×2896 pixels — pretty cool! While I can’t vouch for this, I’m told it only supports up to 1200×1200 px on an iPhone 3G. Effects render live onscreen and everything about PhotoToaster is fast and feels snappy.
The UI is one of the best in its class. It’s an easily maneuverable design wrapped in an retro analog shell. There’s a good help system available in-app. If you make a mistake, everything is undoable and redoable. The app talks to Facebook and allows you not only to save directly to Facebook, but import any image from your photo library or that you’re tagged in. Given the popularity of Facebook, the import feature is a great tool and one which very few apps have added yet.
PhotoToaster isn’t perfect. The app strips out most EXIF data including geotagging. The Crop tool is way too basic. There are only two aspect ratios and no way to rotate or straighten an image. It’s probably the weakest tool in the set. Without the ability to rotate images at the very least (a pretty common task), you’ll need a separate, more functional cropping app.
Given the variety of the filter presets, the frames are simple and tasteful for the most part, but also pretty plain and basic. Other than a few ragged-edge frames, there’s nothing really fun here — no textured borders, film edges or faux-photo print frames. And as much as I dislike texture apps, I’d really love to see a Textures tool added to PhotoToaster. Several well-chosen textures to give images the look of analog film would really put this app over the top.
While PhotoToaster isn’t the most powerful image editor available, it still has the potential to replace at least one or two other apps on your iPhone. With a few tweaks, PhotoToaster could easily be the only image editor that many iPhoneographers need. It’s easy enough for all skill levels, but powerful enough to really customize how you work with it. Even with it’s shortcomings in this 1.0 release, PhotoToaster is a great app. It’s a strong 3-1/2 stars and a just a few improvements away from at least a four-star app.
Overall, a lot of thought went into the design of PhotoToaster and a lot of attention was paid to details. PhotoToaster is a well-constructed app.
The developers say that PhotoToaster will eventually sell for $2.99. Right now, it’s introductory-priced at $0.99. Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.0 or later.