iOS Photo Editing Apps and Data

I love data almost as much as I love photography, so I want EXIF information to be retained. I’ve noticed recently, while browsing through my Lightroom catalog, that a lot of my iPhone photos are missing information. So I wanted to perform a highly technical and scientific test to see which iOS apps did the best job of preserving the integrity of my photos’ data.
Unfortunately, I lack the patience for highly technical and scientific tests, so this is what I ended up with. I’ve also recently cleaned up the apps on my phone, so I’m only testing the photo editing apps that I chose to retain.

(Photos and screenshots are at the end of the post.)

The (highly un-scientific) Test

Photo taken on the iPhone’s native camera app. Same photo loaded into and edited in each app, saved back to camera roll, then sent to Dropbox via CameraSync app. On the MacBook, photos were imported into Adobe Lightroom 4 via DropBox folder.

Reading EXIF data in Lightroom to see which details are modified/removed by the iOS photo editing apps.

  1. Original
    1. Date/Time: 5/7/2012 9:00am
    2. Location: Home
    3. Dimensions: 2448 x 3264
  2. Luminance (iPhone and iPad)
    1. Date and time preserved
    2. Location preserved
    3. Dimensions preserved
    4. Editing experience
      1. Presets
      2. Individual filters
      3. Cropping
      4. Multiple levels of undo, listed by edit point
      5. Sharing
        1. Facebook
        2. Tweet via LumiPics
        3. Save to Camera Roll
        4. Email
        5. Copy
  3. Snapseed (iPhone and iPad)
    1. Date and time preserved
    2. Location preserved
    3. Dimensions preserved
    4. Editing experience
      1. Filters
        1. Nice gesture control of filters and filter strengths
        2. Presets for each filter
      2. Sharing
        1. Save to Photo Library
        2. Email
        3. Flickr
        4. Facebook
        5. Twitter
        6. Instagram
        7. Open in…
          1. Opens in various apps that are installed on the iPhone
            1. FlickStackr
            2. Air Sharing
            3. Evernote
            4. Dropbox
            5. Camera+
            6. Box
  4. Camera+ (iPhone only)
    1. Date possibly preserved, time removed
    2. Location removed
    3. Dimensions preserved
    4. Editing experience
      1. Presets
        1. Lighting
        2. Effects
        3. Borders
        4. Cropping
      2. Lighting “Scenes”
        1. “Clarity” preset creates pretty cool images
      3. Sharing
        1. Email
        2. Message
        3. Create Web Link
        4. Social
          1. Facebook
          2. Twitter
          3. Flickr
  5. iPhoto for iOS (iPhone and iPad)
    1. Date and time preserved
    2. Location preserved
    3. Dimensions preserved
    4. Editing experience
      1. Filters
      2. Presets
      3. Cropping (non-destructive… It comes across in Lightroom as a “virtual” crop, so I can always re-crop later.)
      4. Sharing
        1. Journal
        2. Camera Roll
        3. iTunes
        4. Email
        5. Beam
        6. Print
        7. Twitter
        8. Flickr
        9. Facebook
        10. Slideshow


I’ve been a huge fan of Camera+ for a while now, but after realizing how much data it strips from photos, I’m inclined to stay away from it.

Snapseed and iPhoto for iOS are both great apps. Both have more sharing options than the others, but I generally save to my Camera Roll and share from there. Snapseed’s ability to share to other iOS apps is definitely a plus, though. The fact that iPhoto for iOS does non-destructive cropping is awesome.

Luminance is probably my favorite overall. If I’m actually going to post a photo from my phone, I don’t want to mess with a ton of filters with sliders, etc. I want a cool preset that lets me get a good effect and upload the photo in the shortest amount of time possible. Leave the perfectionist editing for when I’m editing on my computer.

Finally, photos and screenshots

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