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Making digital photos look old-fashioned is all the rage on mobile devices. Apps like Instagram and Camera+ are like virtual time machines, leaving you with retro images from your modern cameraphone. If you’re also looking to go vintage with pictures on your Mac, PhotoStyler is a fun, powerful, and easy-to-use way to get that old-school look without paying a fortune on eBay for antique photo gear.
PhotoStyler takes advantage of core Apple technologies in Mac OS X, tapping into the Mac’s GPU for quick processing of any image file format, including RAW. The interface is clean and uncluttered—novice users can quickly process images to share with friends. At the same time, PhotoStyler also appeals to power users who want to start from scratch without getting bogged down with too many options.
A before-and-after mode helps keep track of just how far your image has come.
Drop an image onto the spartan user interface and you’re presented with 120 thumbnails, each representing a different preset with its own look and feel. The sidebar offers the option to sort by Rating, Date, or Name with tags for viewing specific categories such as Polaroid, Vintage, or Lomo. Images can also be loaded using the standard Mac OS X file browser, with direct access to the iPhoto or Aperture library via the Media sidebar.
Preview a selected preset by pressing the Space bar or clicking the toolbar icon. Double-click to edit image layers, which can be turned on or off, rearranged, and individually adjusted; additional layers can be added with a click. Editing happens in a single window, and a Photo Navigator panel keeps the big picture while zoomed in. Adjustments can be saved as a new preset, and images can be exported in six different formats (including TIFF, PNG, and JPEG), saved as a layered file for further editing in PhotoStyler, or shared to Facebook, Flickr, or iPhoto.
PhotoStyler performs its magic lightning-fast, with image masking tools that rival pro apps and a convenient batch mode for cropping, resizing, shadowing, or rotating photos in bulk. We’d like to see OS X Lion–specific support such as a full-screen mode, additional sharing options, and the ability to use PhotoStyler as a plug-in with Aperture, but otherwise the app delivers—with style.
The bottom line. PhotoStyler is a worthwhile investment for vintage photo junkies, going well beyond the modest editing abilities of popular iOS apps. 30 bucks may feel steep for iOS users accustomed to free apps, but the ability to quickly go retro from the desktop makes it well worth it.
Mac OS 10.6 or later
Super-fast image processing with a wide variety of options. Uncluttered user interface doesn’t get in the way of creativity. Styled images can be saved complete with layers for later editing.
Mac App Store version lags behind version available from developer’s website. Previewing multiple images results in a blank window. Limited sharing and clunky import from iPhoto or Aperture.