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Mark Myerson

Avid photographer of no note whatsoever, and professional Facebook loather.

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It would be fair to say that only one photography app can even claim to be king of them all – Instagram. Despite its daft requirement for images to be square, and its quirky filters – to give them a sympathetic description – it has revolutionized the way we share images, and has rapidly risen to be one of the most popular social networks in the world.

What makes these achievements even more remarkable is that this is a mobile-only platform, and for some time, it was an iOS exclusive too. Until Instagram’s surge in popularity, no other network creators had the bare-faced effrontery, let alone the skill and nous, to go mobile only. Facebook‘s recent $1bn acquisition of Instagram only highlights the brilliance of the people behind the app.

Whilst all this mobile stuff is very forward thinking, many of us have wished, over the years, for the ability to play with Instagram on a larger screen – on a computer, in other words. The current web-friendly version of Instagram’s website is the closest we’ve ever got to an official desktop environment, so it is little wonder that independent developers have stood up to fill the gap.

One such developer, FIPLAB, has created InstaReel for Instagram, a $2.99 native Mac Instagram browser. Without image uploading – the critical part of the Instagram experience – though, can InstaReel truly be better than just using your phone? Time to find out…

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At any time you care to look, the App Store’s Photography chart is filled with image editors. Editing, however, is only part of the digital processing workflow – nearly all of us organize, and make minor adjustments to, our images with an all-in-one library app such as Lightroom, Aperture, or Capture One, some time before any image editor gets a look-in. Yet for some reason, the range of apps available to perform this archiving role is very small, and the theme shared by all of them is a premium price-tag.

In spite of this lack of choice and the expense associated with purchasing a library app, the open source community hasn’t felt the need to develop its own alternative. Or at least that was the case until darktable arrived. Put together by a team of photographer-coders, darktable shares many features with its more expensive competitors – multiple image sorting options, tethered shooting and a suite of editing options – but is it in the same league?

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