Description: While we keep on hearing that our smartphones and tablets now have comparable performance to our laptops and desktops, there hasn’t really been any desktop-class photo editing for Android. For instance, photo editing on mobile is still very much a simple “wizard-like” process, filled with filters and quick fixes. It doesn’t have to be like that though, as there are apps out there that can help you get the best of your photos – even in RAW format. Photo Mate R2 is the sequel to the popular photo editing app that gave photographers the same sort of tools they’re used to. Photo Mate R2 is back with a new UI, hundreds of new features and far-reaching RAW support. It’s definitely the best Android app for those looking to get granular editing tools on the go, no matter where they are.
How it Works: First of all, you’ll need to download the app from the Play Store and remember, you’re going to need a fairly powerful tablet for this to work well, so something from the high-end from the last year or so. Once you’ve done that, you can go about getting your photos into Photo Mate R2. You can do this by importing files from the internal storage, from your SD card slot (if available), from a network and even from your Camera using USB. One of the first things you might want to do is to organize and rate your photos:
When editing an image, you’ll notice all of the options available to you on the right-hand side.
When you go into one of these tools, such as the new Gradient tool, you’ll see how granular these changes can get, which is great for perfectionists.
As you can see, you can make very fine adjustments to your images, which is pretty much unheard of when it comes to mobile apps. Each time you go into an editing tool, the UI will change a little, and give you the controls you want, maximizing available space on your Android device.
When you’ve made your edits, you have a number of different choices how you want to export them. Including a batch mode and sizes suitable for social networks, like Google+.
RAW support in Photo Mate R2 is great, it doesn’t make a big deal out of it, it just gets on with it. If all you’re looking for is a quick way to get RAW to JPG, the app will allow you to do that too but, with so many editing tools you might find yourself creating more than converting.
Opinion: RAW photography has always been a strange thing for me, mostly because I got into photography in my teens using film rangefinders. Now RAW a sort of challenge to me, it allows far more flexibility than JPEGs and it’s almost like developing your own shots in your darkroom. The problem is however, you need a fairly powerful laptop to lug around with you if you want to make changes on the go. Photo Mate R2 changes that and gives you a whole bunch of RAW editing tools on the go. You can edit different layers of an image, check your histogram and you can even keep these photos organized through ratings and metadata. For me though, the biggest thing about Photo Mate R2 is being able to edit images up close, with it right there in the palm of your hand. Editing photos sitting at your desk when you get back from your trip is great but, it gets real old, real quick. With Photo Mate R2, you can create that perfect shot with a new level of intimacy and ease.
- Speed (4/5) – This depends on your device and which version of Android you’re running but, Photo Mate R2 has had a big speed boost since the first version so you should be able to edit photos swiftly.
- Features (5/5) – Photo Mate R2 has a massive list of things it’s capable of. You can import photos from your camera using USB, create and edit layers, it uses RAW files, you can organize and rate these photos, it’s granular and has all the editing tools you would expect. Do I need to go on?
- Theme (4/5) – As big fans of stock Android, we’re glad to see the Holo theme used to its best here. Those used to programs like Lightroom and Aperture will like the dark look, too.
- Overall (4.5/5) – With some more friendly additions, Photo Mate R2 would be an app for all photographers but, things are a little involved and you need to invest some time to get the best results. However, this is possibly one of the best apps of its kind, after all, what else makes editing RAW files on the go this good?
- RAW files such as Canon CR2, Nikon NEF, Sony ARW, Pentax PEF, Samsung, Phase one and many more are all supported by Photo Mate R2
- Granular editing controls are featured across the board, making fine adjustments easy and precise. Just what you need to fix a poor exposure, or to tame highlights and shadows.
- Organizing images like you would in Lightroom is included, and you can sort by rating and metadata.
- You can import photos from your camera or external storage using USB, over a network and more.
- Newcomers might struggle to get the best out of the app.
- Cloud support would make storing and accessing all of your photos much easier.
Conclusion: Photo Mate R2 is a brilliant app and serious or enthusiast photographers all over the world should be using it, if they have an Android tablet. The app works with phones, too but it’s best left to bigger displays. With devices featuring 2560 x 1600 displays, it makes sense to edit photos like this on these brilliant displays and Photo Mate R2 finally allows us to edit RAW like never before on the go. Using XMP, non-destructive editing there’s no reason not to give it a go and see what it makes of your photos. While it might not replace Lightroom and such on the go, it might make reviewing and touching up photos on the go that much easier, as you can easily connect to your laptop using a network share, too. It might be expensive but, when compared to the cost of PhotoShop, Aperture and Lightroom PhotoMate R2 quickly starts to look like an absolute bargain.