Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Chrome OS Photo Apps - Part-2


Raw Processed With Polarr
In Part-1, I did a brief introduction to the Chromebook and it's ingenious Linux based Chrome OS. In my opinion, for general everyday computing that doesn't require any heavy lifting, this is by far the easiest to use personal computing device on the market. It is also the least expensive complete package - the Chromebook being equipped with an 11" screen, comprehensive keyboard, and touch-pad / key combo. The Chrome OS requires so little horsepower to keep itself running, it's very quick, lightweight and cool running. There is an overall lack of frustration factor when compared to ANYTHING else out there, and that includes Google's own Android system for mobile devices, and especially includes anything put out by Microsoft.

As a Photography Blogger, it must be my task to try out a few of the Chrome OS Photo Apps. I'm starting off with one called Polarr, which is a Raw file "developer" or converter, not unlike Lightroom, RawTherapee, or Photivo. It contains all of the essential raw file workings, along with a good array of one-touch filters. Raw file converters are one of those things that usually require a lot of computing power - this is especially true of my favourite - DxO Optics Pro, and I'll admit from the outset that Polarr is nothing like DxO. But it's not bad. It does it's thing surprisingly quickly too, and unlike most other Chrome Apps, it opens in it's own window, not a new browser tab. The Chrome OS Web Store doesn't have a lot of other raw converters available. There is one particularly bad one called "Raw.Pics.io" which only does one adjustment - Exposure Value (EV), and when it's applied, it results in something that looks like a very bad JPEG. It might be useful if all you have are raw files and you're in an extreme hurry - you could simply open the raw, do nothing else, then save it as a .jpg. But Polarr is certainly a keeper, with it's nice array of one-click Instagram-like Filters that are applied in raw, not jpg, which allows all picture data to be retained for working on the same file over again later.

Another must have is the now well known Pixlr Editor. For all intents, it looks and behaves just like PS Elements, and is meant for working on many common file types, with the exception of raw files. Just like PSE, it is a lot like GIMP with less features. This is the App to use for making significant adjustments (including "auto-levels"), rotate and crop, layers, re-touching, etc, again very much like Elements and GIMP.

Then within the Web Store, there are seemingly hundreds of other Instagram-like Filter Apps. I personally don't like these much, because in spite of some of them being touted as "Vintage", or "Retro", there was never any old school photographic films that looked like any of these Filters. But i will spend some time trying out some of them.

I really prefer my digital photographs to look like photographs - and I especially like film emulations. I'm not sure if any film emulation apps exist yet in the Google-sphere, whether in Chrome OS or Android. it is now possible to port Android Apps to Chrome, but this is for developers, not ordinary end-users.

One last thing I'd like to mention before I get into using and reviewing a bunch more Chrome oS Photo Apps - that is - the Chrome OS universe is rapidly growing with the advent of new, super small computer hardware, like the Intel Stick, Chromebit, and for the more ambitious, Raspberry Pi-2.

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