Apps: Aviary vs Photoshop Express

Recently I discovered quite by accident that Adobe have released an app version of Photoshop (‘Photoshop Express’) and got really quite excited, as I’m desperate to have my own copy of Photoshop, but currently can’t afford it (I know, a photographer without Photoshop – never going to make a living out of that then!). So I thought I’d give it a whirl.

Until now, I’ve used Aviary to edit all my photos, and frankly it makes me weep that you can only get it as an app or via Flickr to edit your photos once uploaded to the site. I think it is a gorgeous little editor, and although the ‘effects’ leave a lot to be desired in comparison to Instagram, the ‘adjust’ section (brightness, contrast, warmth and saturation) is perfect for photos which just need a tiny bit of cheering up, as so many of mine seem to. In fact, the warmth adjuster is probably the thing I use most out of either program – sometimes (most times) it’s all you need to take your photo from looking like it was taken on a camera phone from 2001 to looking technically proficient (which I am not).

One would assume that being based on Photoshop which is quite obviously the industry standard, Photoshop Express would be miles better than Aviary, so is it? Below is a triptych of photos of Whitby Abbey – the first is the original (showing my lack of technical knowledge – why is it so flat and dull!?), the second is edited with Aviary, and the third with Photoshop Express. Both were edited on my phone, so I didn’t see the results until I uploaded them to my laptop.

Whitby Abbey edits

Aviary
The photo definitely has more life and colour than the original. The dead grass in the foreground looks autumnal rather than dead, and the abbey looks like there’s a ray of sun shining on it. Bearing in mind the edits were done on an iPhone 4, the colours are a bit off – the stone of the abbey looks a bit of a strange pink colour, which is probably due to me overdoing the warmth and then saturation levels, although it looked respectable enough on my phone! But overall, it looks a lot better than it did before, and adequate for putting on Flickr or anywhere else.

Photoshop Express
Definitely much brighter than the original, although the colours are slightly cartoonish and overdone. I much prefer the simple warmth slider in Aviary than the dual ‘tint and temperature’ sliders in Photoshop Express, because neither seemed to do as good a job as just upping the warmth. I like the colour of the water and the (live, green) grass, and although the abbey stone has a slight greenish tinge to it, I prefer it to the slightly pink tone Aviary gave it. However, I think the dead grass looks a completely unnatural colour, and the sky (although it was an issue with the original photo) is a ridiculously unrealistic colour where it’s turned virtually aqua along the very centre of the image.

Overall, I think both apps have their uses. If I could merge the water, live grass and abbey from the second photo (Photoshop Express) with the sky and dead grass from the first (Aviary) image, I’d be a very happy bunny.

Having never seen a real live Photoshop program on a computer before, I don’t know how similar or dissimilar it is to the app, but I find the app a bit confusing when it comes to changing colours (‘tint and temperature’ and ‘hue and saturation’). However, the big plus for me is the exposure control, which can really help where Aviary can’t. And as for Aviary, I think even if I become the world’s biggest Photoshop Express fan, Aviary will always have a very special place in my heart. For simple edits to brighten photos and up the warmth a bit, it’s so simple to use that even I don’t have any problems – and I’m a total photo editing novice! And that really is the crux of the review for me – Aviary for when you need a quick adjustment, Photoshop Express for when you want to take a bit more time.

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