Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Twitter filters walkthrough

Nowadays, market is filled with superb smartphone cameras and recent times show that smartphone cameras are more popular then normal cameras and this fact isn't going to change easily or in near future. Also, editing the photos and applying filters is a very popular trend these days. There are some phones with very high end and quality cameras but most phone cameras suffer from terrible lenses and hence low quality and pixelation. These make for the most promising targets for photo editing and filtering apps. Although  apps like Snapseed and Camera+ edit the photos for clarity and colors depending on the filters you choose but there is one app that has gained most traction in this segment and that is Instagram.

Instagram has a nice variety of filters to offer and they can make a photo look better or more appropriate to the users' demands. One of the reasons for it to become popular was its sharing feature.

Now, Twitter, one of the most famous social networks, launched its own set of filters baked right into its iOS and Android apps. A very important and key thing to note about Twitter's way of application Filters feature is that every user, filter fans and non-fans alike, see it. The editor pops up immediately after you decide to share a pic through twitter, either by clicking a pic through the app or using the phone's library. This is sure to make adoption of twitter's filters much more easy and faster because when a user sees the option, he is most likely going to fiddle with the option and come across a filter he likes.

As soon you click on the editor, you come across an enhance icon, filter and crop tools. The whole feature set is powered by Aviary SDK, which is a cross-platform photo editing and filtering app. It is a surprising move because everyone would have expected twitter to take a sweet amount of time and make an in-house system. This could be the result of a compressed timeline offered to Twitter by the competition it is facing from Instagram.

Now, lets look at the set of filters Twitter offers.

The Filters

First options is Auto-enhance. It works nicely and effectively for most of the times and to be true, there is nothing much to really talk about it. But once you pass through this you move on to a streak of 8 color filters.

First, lets set the subject in the view. The picture used to test has a nice range of colors and hence the choice. 
The picture used has been taken using a Nexus 10. Surely, iPhone or SGS3 camera would have provided much more fidelity but it is not the focus here. The reason for use of Nexus 10 was to show how the filters deal with lower quality photos which are the majority to be shared.


First filter is Vignette. Vignette is loss of clarity in the image towards the edges. It is an effect used to focus the viewer's attention to the center of the photograph. Also a bit of contrast tweaking takes place when this filter is applied. This is one of the most famous filters used by the photographers and casual shooters specially for the portraits because it helps focusing the attention to the subject.


Next up is a very popular and a very straightly named Black & White filter. It turns the image to a warm-toned black and white image with sort of flattened highlights. But because of the presence of warm tone its more likely to look brown rather black to most people.

Black & White

Next filter is named as Warm. As it may seem, it warms up the tone of the image but it applies a layer of vignette before it does so. Many instagram users are most likely to think of it as a counter-part to instagram's Rise with a Vignette filter. Warm colors are much more soothing to the eye of the viewer and hence a reason for its popularity.


Then we have Cool filter. This is a cool-toned filter and it highlights the blues in the picture. As warm is much more soothing to the eyes, and hence the soul, of the viewer this filter doesn't have much of a fan following but it is good for neon or night photos.


Next we have Vintage filter. It is like the Warm filter but to give it a worn out and old look, the photograph gets filled with mustard tone instead of an amber one. It flattens out the image in terms of contrast. It lightens the dark areas and takes a level off of the contrast of very high contrast regions. It can be good for those cameraphones which have a poor low light performance.


This is one of the most interesting of all the filters. Its named as Cinematic. It has boosted contrast and deeper blacks. It reduces the color saturation level of the photo quite a much to about 40% or so. Its enough to leave decent amounts of color after the application of filter but it gives the photo a muted, dramatic look and hence its name. Its not for everyone though. Because of the way it works, this filter amps up the grainy level and blows out the details in the photograph which is already a problem with pictures taken with smartphones. But sometimes cinematization is all you need to say a thousand words through a photograph.


Happy is up next. It taps into the happy=warm equation of the way people see a photo. It has significantly boosted dark tones and thus it eliminated the blacks in a picture altogether. It also has blown out details but it has lesser contrast then Warm filter.


Last one is called Gritty. It has Cinematic filter's low saturation and high grain presence in the image but it combines with what what appears to be rough kind of texture. It is warm and bright as opposed to Cinematic which is more on the cool side. It has got more open blacks and because of its warm tone it is more pleasant to look at then the results that we get after the application of Cinematic filter.


The list of filters runs out here. Lets look at the new crop tool as well. It lets you crop in a square from or a full frame.

Crop Tool

At the end, the effort is very quick and painless. Although an extra tap comes into the scene but crop and filter tools are a welcome change. It won't be wrong to say that this is a very nicely varied set of filters Twitter has offered although not as mature and detailed as what Instagram has to offer. It is yet to be seen whether it will gain the same kick as Instagram did but it is safe to say that Twitter won't be throwing Instagram off its throne. But it does provide Twitter users with an extra landing bay in the twitter app itself which is more likely to engage and tempt users to continue uploading photos that look great in galleries and expanded tweet-cards.
As with any social network and photo editing tool, the power to decide lies in the hands of the user.


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