I consider myself an early adopter of Photosmith. Not that I had access to a beta version or anything like that. No, it is just because I have been blogging about this iPad app for quite a while. It actually was one of the two main reasons why I switched from Aperture to Lightroom about a year ago.
I have been following the Photosmith blog announcing the arrival of version 2.0. So, when the application was finally available on the AppStore for upgrade, I quickly downloaded it and put it to test.
And I was not disappointed.
First off, kudos to the developers for making this a free upgrade. They could have easily defaulted on this by calling the app “Photosmith Pro” for example. Honorable of them.
To start with, I will confess to liking rich user interfaces. I do not mind complex UIs – I did not say complicated UIs. When, I was looking at switching from Aperture to Lightroom, a lot was being said about LR’s interface not being as clean as the one of Aperture. Me, I kind of like Lightroom’s interface.
This is all to say that I like the Photosmith UI. It shows that the developers have put a lot of thought into it.
For example, I like how the interface follows my mobile workflow: import, catalog, tag and share. And when gestures are required, they feel natural and, more importantly, responsive (granted that I work on a New iPad with 64GB).
Also, the interface provides plenty of what I call “just in time help”. This help is in the form of additional text within the dialog box or sometimes even a link to their web site. Some may argue that this replaces a good design. I say, when you access less often used commands, the more assistance the better.
From the UI perspective, not everything is perfect.
For example, say you selected a few pictures but no longer wish to keep that selection. You have to uncheck a small check box at the top left of the grid. It actually works as a three way toggle: selected, not selected and partially selected. This last state is shown with a check box that is slightly smaller and darker than the “full” selection check box – not too obvious.
From a performance point of view, import is also much faster and does not crash like with version 1. Maybe it is faster simply because of the New iPad :). Nevertheless, I will no longer worry about to being able to import a large batch of pictures.
The iPad API limits what an application can do. One of these limitations is the inability to delete pictures from a third party app. The folks at Photosmith came up with an interesting work around by creating a Rejected collection.
That works well, except that I did not yet catch how to delete the rejected pictures from the iPad. I thought that the app would have created a Rejected Photo App album, but it does not appear to be so. I will have to read on this. Maybe a little more “just in time help” like I was talking about would help here.
You can import from an iPad album (which itself can be created by importing pictures with the the Camera Connector Kit) or from a wireless Eye-Fi card. The Eye-Fi support is huge for mobile photographers. Great addition. I still have to test this.
Photosmith has a kind-of smart album that shows pics from the last import session. I say “kind-of” because, smart albums are not yet supported. At first I could not figure out how to select all pics from the last import. Now that I figured out the triple state check mark I spoke about before, I no longer am looking at how to select all picture from the last import – a “challenge” of mine at first.
In summary Photosmith answers my needs for a mobile photographer workflow. It imports my pictures, allows me to rate reject some,rate the others ans tag them with keywords before syncing it all with Lightroom once I am back at my desk.
No other app does this For the iPad. Great stuff. Seriously.