500px just introduced their RAW app. It uses the new iPhone raw image capabilities to make editing on the go easier and as intuitive as possible. The app gives you the capability to export to your social networks as well as your 500px profile, where you can sell the images and make 60% of the profit. It also has an Assignment section, which I believe will be used to give photographers paid projects depending on their location. Is editing raw images on mobile devices the future of post-production? By the looks of what Lightroom has done with their mobile apps in which you can edit your raw images by using a smaller proxy file, it might be the way the industry is moving.
On the 500px network, you'll find photographs and no video. When I first went through the network, I found myself reminiscing over why I became a photographer. I enjoy taking pictures, but what's the point if you can't share them with other photographers and be inspired by other photographers' work?
500px pushes their brand as being for the professional photographer. As a photographer, you can sell images, but also get property and model releases sorted before you even start shooting, all on one of their apps. With the new RAW app, they make it possible to edit RAW images with a really easy yet professional approach. You can now professionally edit an image taken on an iPhone or WiFi-capable DSLR or mirrorless camera.
What's exciting about 500px is that Andy Yang, the CEO, says they started rolling out a global photography on-demand service a year ago to preferred clients, which turned out to be very successful. And it doesn't look like the process of introducing new products is completed. According to Yang: "RAW is the first of a number of products rolling out in the coming months to support this service. It's a new way for photographers to secure paid work for doing what they love"
The RAW App
When opening the app, you can slide from left to right to different screens with different purposes, much like you would on Snapchat. The app opens on the camera. The first panel gives you access to release forms. The second panel gets you to the camera. The third panel shows the the gallery of images you've taken, and the fourth is an interesting one: Assignments.
The Model Release Section
500px has developed a standalone app for model and property releases, but they've integrated it into RAW, which gives you the idea that this app will be a one-stop place for photographers to edit and create.
It has a very minimal design. You can toggle settings on and off. When toggled on, you get exposure on the right, focusing on the left, and at the bottom of the app, you get a timer, a flash on-and-off switch, and the ability to toggle a grid for composition. The shutter is also programmed to use the top button, which is the only way I take photos with the iPhone.
Here you can import images from your photo library and edit it in an intuitive, user-friendly way. You can copy styles and paste it on a selection of other images too.
What 500px does very well is leverage the photography community to clients in need of images. They make it possible to sell images, but now, they bring us Assignments, which looks like they are planning on putting photographers on assignments based on their location. This can be great for travel photographers, documentary photographers, and photographers focusing on landscape photography, to name a few.
Editing in the app
TYou can crop like you can with any photo-editing app. The interesting part is in the "Light" section, where you can change exposure, contrast, highlights and shadows by dragging levers (white circles) appearing on the image up or down. One can also edit color, details, as well as hue, saturation, and lightness. You can then save the style to use on other images or share it with the community.
What I Liked
- The app works intuitively. Unlike most third-party apps, this one actually uses the volume-up button on the iPhone to shoot. I use the volume buttons when I shoot with the iPhone, so it's great to have this incorporated into the app.
- It doesn't go directly to the gallery page after you've shot, but keeps the camera active. This makes you use the app like you would when you go out for the day shooting.
- It gives you all the technical metadata of the image. It tells you the aperture, camera brand, focal length, dimensions, coordinates, aspect ratio, lens used, and more.
- You can copy styles you like on an image you've edited and paste them on another. And you can save a style and make it available for the network too, meaning you can also use other photographers' styles.
What I Didn't Like
- For a photographer who loves walking around the city, it's important to have an app load quickly. I am still using the iPhone 5s, but it did seem to take its time. I imagine it being much faster on the iPhone 6 and 7 ranges.
- Just like the VSCO app, it's counter-intuitive to provide an arrow at the bottom which communicates the instruction to share the image and only make it for one specific network. When you press this arrow button, it wants to post it to your 500px profile. I get it; it's their app. But what I can say is that people will share their images to whatever network they please, whether you've divided it up into your network and the rest or not.
- The screen is smaller than your desktop laptop, so it's not as easy to see the details, and you can't pinch to zoom and get in close while editing, but I'm sure they'll update that in the near future. I am sure this isn't as much of an issue on the 6s, 6s Plus, 7 or 7 Plus as the screen size is larger and has higher resolution.
- I had an issue of getting raw images into the app. I tried syncing from Adobe's Creative Cloud, Dropbox, and iCloud. I was able to export the image to the 500px app to publish, but not to the 500px RAW app. It seems the only way to do this is to physically connect the phone with the computer and do it this way. This will also need to change soon.
I don't use Lightroom, so I don't use the mobile app or Creative Cloud to edit my images while out on location. With this app, I can import via WiFi, edit the images to something I like, and export to show or share. I am not sure it's the perfect app for professional use where white balancing, consistent color rendition, and finer details are important, but it's surely a fun way to share your work before you get back to your desk to start your post-processing workflow.
Pease download the app, edit an image, and post it below, so we can see your take on the app's capabilities. I am looking forward to what 500px has in store in the time to come.
Lead image credit: My Next Adventure by Michael Matti