While there are a lot of apps that have tons of filters for your photos, very few let you create and control gradients, an important part of putting the finishing touches on your photos.
Shift ($0.99) does just that, and does it very well. The best part is the ability to create custom filters and effects. With the base settings, and adjustments for every parameter, you can get just the effect you like.
To start, the app gives you 37 textures for film grain, light leaks, dust and other effects. Those can be up or down scaled and rotated. There are 23 sample filters, and each one can be customized. The app also has 12 color overlays, which can then change the overall color cast of your image to match your mood. The feature I really like is the way gradients are handled. Gradients are often useful for emphasizing or changing the sky, sort of like a neutral density filter with color, and the app offers you two centers for each filter. You drag it to the position you want, and adjust the gradients individually. So you can adjust the sky, and the landscape below. It’s a nice simple way of handling what could be a complicated operation.
Filters and effects you create can be named and saved, so your creative work won’t be lost.
It’s quite easy to manipulate your photos with this app. To begin, you give the app access to your camera roll. There are simple sliders for saturation, contrast, temperature and brightness. You can specify the aspect ratio for your image if you want to change it. After then you jump into the pool of filters, blends, textures and graduated filters.
The choices are tasteful, and there are selections for black and white as well as an array of color choices. There are sophisticated blending modes, controlled by a slider, that you usually don’t find in filter programs. Choices are similar to the options in Photoshop, with things like additive and screen adjustments.
The Bottom Line
I had fun playing with Shift, and I was able to create some unique looks for my photos. Of course, everything you shoot won’t need the Shift treatment, but when the mood strikes you, you’ll have a powerful and inexpensive tool for photo editing.
Negatives? I find the app slow in loading a photo, and selecting an operation. When I tapped on a photo to import, it just sat there, and I thought the app had locked up. It did load the photo, but it seemed unresponsive when doing this on my iPhone 6.
I’ve put Shift in my main editing folder and expect to use it quite a bit. There are other apps that create endless filters, but Shift adds textures and gradients that are really, really useful. The price is reasonable enough, and I consider it a very low risk and useful purchase.
Shift is universal, so iPad operation is fine, and so is an iPod touch. The app requires iOS 7 or later, and other than the lag on loading seemed fine on iOS 9.