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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.

You are not limited to a single style, either. As you mouse down the style list, you can use the plus (+) button that appears on a selection to add that style's tiles to the tray. Each tile can be adjusted individually — a tiny button lets you toggle its preview — and tiles that add an effect you don't want can be individually removed. When you have a combination you like, save it as a new style that is added to the full list. It can be used on other images and shared.

In addition to film-like filter presets and 17 new historical cameras, the program also facilitates a classic image editing workflow. The Adjustments tab offers familiar crop and straighten tools, contrast, and saturation, however, other adjustment categories like Light, Color, Photographic, and Utility, offer more opportunities to apply basic edits. These adjustments operate interactively with smooth performance and real-time preview. You can input a variety of standard formats, plus Raw and PSD, and output to JPEG, TIFF, or PNG at the dimension and quality of your choice.

Interface changes
Although I found CameraBag 2.5 easy to use without having to consult the documentation, there are extensive image editing choices, and some controls and sliders aren't initially familiar or intuitive. It's worthwhile to have a look at the documentation. Unfortunately, most of Nevercenter's instructional videos aren't yet current with the new version.

Users of previous versions might miss the Favorites tab. Since there are so many styles, it might have been easier to simply group favorites together in one place along with new styles you create. Right now, I have to search for my own custom style among the many other built-in presets.

There's no way to paint effects on to a discrete part of the image — application of a filter or edit is an all or nothing affair. And, it would be nice if there were a tabbed interface that let you work with more than one image at a time. 

Bottom line
CameraBag 2.5
is a great app for photographers who want to add some quick filters and unique looks to their photos without a lot of fuss — but if you want to experiment, you can easily knock yourself out. The ability to combine and tweak styles, controls, borders, and edits is tested only by your patience and desire to make the photo look the way you want it to. A sharing component lets you share and download favorite styles from other users, and transfer styles to your mobile device.

The fact that you can start your workflow with basic adjustments and end it with a frame and watermark gives the program even more value. If you now have version 2, upgrade to version 2.5 now. It's free. If you're still using version 1, paying $20 for the new version is well worth it.

 

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