Snapheal 2.1 - Software Review

Last week, I wrote about FX Photo Studio Pro, a neat piece of software from the folks at MacPhun. Yesterday, they released a much anticipated update to Snapheal. The idea behind Snapheal is to provide a high-quality image editor and retouching tool, at a very reasonable price. Like other MacPhun products, the user experience is simple and clean. You simply launch the app, open a photo, and dive right in.

You might recognize the image from last week's posting. It's an in-camera panorama, and there was a person who moved during the exposure series. You can see the mixed-up version of their body in the lower right of the image. I used Snapheal to remove the distraction before further editing.

Using Snapheal is, well, a snap. To remove a distracting item from an image (in this case, the person who was moving during the panorama), simply paint a mask over the object(s) to be removed, select an erasure mode, and click erase.

The result is similar to using the healing brush in Photoshop CS 6.5. I say similar, because MacPhun have developed their own proprietary algorithms to intelligently replace the selected area with an approximation of what was behind the selected elements.

Once you've completed your retouching, you can perform other edits, such as cropping and rotating, and the usual image corrections to exposure, color, contrast, etc. In addition to overall corrections, it's easy to select specific areas of the image to adjust. The controls are identical to those in FX Studio Pro.

So, what does the final result look like?

I'd say that Snapheal does an excellent job of easily removing unwanted elements from an image. However, it is not infallible (but then again, neither is the Healing Brush in Photoshop). There are certain instances which can confound all of three of the algorithms provided. For example, I tried to remove the two people at the far right edge of the image, and the result was a fairly confused jumble of colors.

Like FX Photo Studio Pro, I really enjoyed using Snapheal. It's another great value and a lot of fun to use. Although not quite as intuitive as FX Photo Studio Pro, Snapheal passes my "no manual test". Everything just makes sense, and works pretty much as expected.

Again, there are, however, a couple of drawbacks. First is that it's Mac only, and I use both a Mac desktop and a PC laptop (and I do most of my work on the laptop these days because I'm so seldom in my home office). And second, it's not available as a plug-in for Photoshop, although it does work well as an external editor from Lightroom. Even with those two drawbacks, I'd certainly recommend it to a friend.

Snapheal 2.1 is available through Apple's iTunes App Store, and requires Mac OS X 10.7. For a limited time, the price is only U$9.99. The regular price is $19.99.

NOTE: MacPhun solicited my review of this software, and provided me with a copy of Snapheal 2.1 for the review.

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