Birth of The Cool, Again.
Adobe recently launched their Photoshop Express Beta [Px]. It's a Flash-based photo manipulation and online photo album application – and it definitely has the "wow" factor and several "cool tool" aspects to it. The best thing is, it's FREE, and you get 2Gb of free storage!
The interface is logical and intuitive and looks a lot like Lightroom, and in terms of interaction, things generally work the way you anticipate them to. Overall, it's a very impressive tool, but it certainly isn't "Photoshop on the web" as many rumors had purported. The rumors set our expectations way too high, even though we all knew it wouldn't be the case. In general, the user experience is reasonable-to-good but it falls short on a few points. Oh, and it's got that "Web 2.0" cool too...
Chicken or egg(s)?
I've used a good handful of the web-based photo tweaking tools that are out there, and things are definitely getting better with the latest stuff I've seen. I think that Picnik has been the best (and the only full featured one for a time) in my opinion, but now Express poses a bit of competition. I'm a HUGE fan of Picnik [http://picnik.com] and its extensive array of features make a lot of sense for most of the basic photo manipulation stuff I need and use regularly. I plan to do a posting on Picnik soon for comparison. Obviously, the thing that makes Picnik so awesome and one of the things that sets it apart from all of the other tools, is that it works seamlessly in conjunction with Flickr (and MySpace, FaceBook, PhotoBucket, and Picassa) or you can upload photos directly from your computer. This is one of the best things about Picnik.
The first thing I noticed about Express [Px] is that it won't save my login credentials so I have to type 'em in every time I log in (Firefox 2.x) and this just really gets to me. Unfortunately, this is more common than it should be. It's a Flash/Flex or Firefox thing I think, and Blogger used to do that too but it's since been fixed (EntreCard still doesn't work correctly, and this limits my drops because of the sheer "frustration factor").
This kinda bugs me because I have to add my photos to yet another service. Bummer. One thing that sets Express apart from other online photo editing tools is the capability to make a Photo Album from photos you've uploaded to your account, and then it's really easy to share them.
Example [Px] Albums:
Screen shots & Features...
Photoshop Express got some very cool editing features, and a bit of the "goofiness" as well. Simple stuff like rotate appear when you rollover an image, and you're brought into editing mode to do other tweaks.
Some of the obvious features are: crop, auto-correct, red-eye removal, exposure, touch-up, and saturation. You can tune the white balance, highlight, sharpen or add soft focus.
You can also use effects like "pop-color", hue, tint, black & white, or have some fun with "sketch" (this is very rudimentary compared to some Photoshop actions), or "distort" which is kinda goofy and I haven't found a real use for it just yet. It reminds me of the old Macromedia tool (I think it was "Goo", but I can't remember the name at the moment).
Overall, Adobe Photoshop Express is a very cool online tool, but there's room for improvement. It's definitely one to add to your arsenal, and I'm interested to see what they have planned next.
Give Photoshop Express [Px] a shot, and share an album or two and let us know what you think...