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CameraBag 2.5 review: Mac app helps you take your best shot

Jackie Dove | Jan. 21, 2014
Nevercenter's CameraBag 2.5 is like having dozens of films and cameras from different eras sitting on the desk to choose at will. Versatile and historical, this Mac image editing and filtering desktop app offers an overwhelming number of options for both fixing and stylizing the look of your photos. Any single or combination of settings will have a profound effect on your image, and the app's flexibility lets you experiment endlessly and nondestructively with a few clicks.

Nevercenter's CameraBag 2.5 is like having dozens of films and cameras from different eras sitting on the desk to choose at will. Versatile and historical, this Mac image editing and filtering desktop app offers an overwhelming number of options for both fixing and stylizing the look of your photos. Any single or combination of settings will have a profound effect on your image, and the app's flexibility lets you experiment endlessly and nondestructively with a few clicks.

Film photographers were famous for using only a fraction of the shots they took. And while that may also be true today, digital photography has facilitated the capture of an astronomical number of frames, free for the price of your memory card and storage space. With the explosive popularity of effects filters (thanks to Instagram), ordinary shots gain more potential for interest and uniqueness. High quality filters like those in CameraBag 2.5 can enhance great shots and perhaps even salvage those which otherwise might have met their delete key demise.

New features
Users of the previous CameraBag 2 will encounter a number of interface tweaks and new features in this version. Version 2.5 has removed the Favorites tab and renamed the Styles tab to My Styles. A new ability to nest tiles — each of which represent the components of a style, and which can be adjusted individually — lets you easily combine effects for simultaneous editing and tweaking. It also assists in batch processing. A new watermark feature, which you can save as a custom style, lets you sign your work. Developers have added sharpen, blur, circular blur options, and more to the new version, giving the program even more basic photo editing prowess. You can now import custom image borders to apply from within the program. Any filter you create on your desktop can also be used with CameraBag's iOS apps for the iPhone and iPad.

Newcomers to the app will likely start from the top with the My Styles tab, which contains more than 150 preset image filters whose titles may or may not offer some clue as to their look. Names like 1967, Blueburn, Dusklight, Leaky Helga, and Stained Italiano may require some deciphering, but you can quickly cycle through each generously sized preview as you move your mouse down the list, as performance of this app is fluid and swift. The Quicklook button at the top of the menu bar opens up a breathtaking full screen rendition of each filter, camera, edit, or frame as it would look individually applied to your photo. There's even a Quicklooks tab that puts them all together.

Adjusting the filters
You don't have to take each filter as it comes. Within each style, a tray holding the style's component tiles, and on-screen sliders that control them, let you adjust the image to your liking. While styles function as a building block for effects, they can easily stand on their own without any tweaking at all, but it's likely you'll want to experiment with styles to bring out the best in your photo.

 

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