Snapseed: Post-Processing Differently for my Black and White Photographs

 So here is the answer to the questioned I posted a few days back, I got myself Snapseed, and have been trying this new software (new to me) and I am really liking the processing handling of black and white files. It does the monochrome images very differently, with added quick shortcut processing that adds interesting effects (something mobile phone users have come to love), called filters. I have come to personally love the "Drama" effects, as well as the default black and white processing, which includes flexibility of using color filters (I use yellow and orange filters from time to time to create the skin tone "pop"). The reason I am so drawn to the "Drama" effects was the quick ability to produce a little bit of "HDR" look, without having completely destroyed the image with the overcooked impression, with the option to control how much "strength" applied for the processing. One can judge how much processing and apply individually on image to image basis, and I really love how the details and separate tones just jumped out with this quick "drama" filter. It strongly reminded me of Olympus' default art filter, the "Dramatic Tone", which I loved very much, but my only complain with it was lack of control to tone down the super-processed, over saturated, black-ish look. This issue was solved with Snapseed. 

This morning, Kelvin brought along his new gear, Fujifilm X-E1, together with the amazing 35mm F1.4 lens for our street shooting. I had my Sony A350 with the 35mm F1.8, and we attacked the Pudu Market. I think I should start calling my market hunts as "Market Shooting" instead of street shooting, it would sound more appropriate, would you agree? Kelvin was giving his new, amazing X-E1 its first trial run, as I was anticipating what would come out from the oven baking of Snapseed from the files I got this morning !! Giving a new post-processing software a run can be just as fun as acquiring new gear. Ok, Ok, maybe not exactly the same, but the poor self of me who cannot afford buying new gear all the time would like to believe it is the same !! Do cut me some slack hey !!

All images were taken with Sony Alpha A350 and Sony DT 35mm F1.8 lens. 
All black and white images processed with Snapseed

Oxygen in the Market

The dripping water


Morning Light

Young Helper

A Break

I did encounter some compatibility issues with the Snapseed, PC desktop version. Perhaps the Snapseed was optimized for used with tablets and mobile phones. When I loaded RAW files from Sony cameras on Snapseed directly (with downloaded plug-ins from Sony directly), the conversion done from RAW to JPEG, being processed with Snapseed, was not satisfactory. The files do not look clean at all, with strong pixelation issues, being viewed at 100%. I have no such issues when using Sony's original default RAW development software, or using Photoshop CS4. Therefore, not being able to work with original RAW file was quite a huge disappointment to me. I had to process the files to JPEG by other means, then input into the Snapseed for further processing, which was redundant and unnecessarily time consuming. 

So I thought this problem was unique to Sony, hence I loaded my Olympus RAW files, and to my surprise, the Snapseed was struggling with the Olympus RAW images !! It just lagged very badly, something that I did not expect. The files from Olympus came out perfectly fine, but the extremely painful slowness was unbearable. 

Having the above two issues, not being able to optimize RAW files from my old Sony (maybe its too old after all), and working with Olympus files very slowly, Snapseed may not be something I can recommend strongly. 

However, I do really, really love the way it handles black and white files. I can see why everyone is falling in love with the Silver Efex Pro software, also created by the same developer. They just made processing black and white images so fun, and added the extra glow and pop such an easy chore to do. Just by a clicks of a few buttons, a slide of few bars, the images come to live so effortlessly. 



Over my head



Oh and I did say Kelvin got himself a Fuji X-E1, and he is loving it. I gave it a quick try, and I do think it is an interesting update over the predecessor X-Pro 1. Focusing was much better, noticeably quicker and surely working more accurately this time, something very crucial when handling the 35mm F1.4 lens. X-Pro 1's focusing was just miserably slow and I would say unreliable. It is great to see Fuji made such improvements in AF, after waves and waves of complains from fans and non-fans alike. Nonetheless, if you put the X-E1 side by side with any new cameras this generation, say either a Sony NEX-6 or Olympus E-PL5, the focusing of the X-E1 still struggles to keep up. The gap is still huge. I sure hope Fuji pays more attention to Autofocus. It is one of the most crucial thing in modern digital cameras, that should not be over-looked. I would say if X-Pro 1 did not have the focusing issues in the first place, it would have been the best selling camera of the year. 

How do you guys process your black and white files? Anyone using the X-E1?  Do share some thoughts !!


  1. Hey Robin!

    I love those w&b pictures. It's much deeper in the dark part of the images than what you used to do. And I like the new result much more :-) Also the sepia tone goes perfectly. Congratulations.

    I use Lightroom to process the images.

    Cheers from Switzerland.

    1. Hey Stephanie,
      Thanks for the kind words ! Still experimenting here, plenty more to explore !

  2. Hi Robin,

    Love your blog. Keep doing what you've been doing to get here and forget about all the negative people.

    Have been a X100 user and just got my X-E1 actually. Am really happy with it. Files are extremely sharp and the 35/1.4 is awesome. Got mine with the kit lens which provides some useful reach and is pretty good as well. Focusing is acceptable except in low-light when it still hunts a little. However, manual focusing is much improved and pretty usable. High ISO is awesome and the OIS on the 18-55 also works very well. Focusing is very quiet and smooth on the 18-55 compared with the 35.

    As for why the X-E1 and not the X-Pro1? I shoot mainly with the EVF so the X-E1's higher res EVF only was just what I wanted. Also the built in flash was a big plus point for me as I don't want to be lugging around a separate flash. On that note, the EVF works very well. High enough resolution to make detailed manual focusing possible.

    What could be improved? No minimum shutter speed for Auto-ISO. The camera seems to believe everything can be taken at 1/30 in lower light! The feel of holding the X-E1 is also not as nice as the X100 but maybe something I need to get used to.

    Just thought I'd share some of my thoughts on the X-E1...

    Keep it up!


    1. Hey Seech,
      Thanks for the kind words and support, very appreciate it.

      Thanks also for sharing your thoughts on the X-E1. I was surprised to find you mentioning the X-100 is actually better in handling, surely I would have expected the X-E1 to feel better in hand ! Also no control over the minimum ISO auto can be troublesome, they can include a firmware update to allow a setting to change that surely. It is a matter of programming.

  3. I think these B&W photo look so much better than your usual one, you should keep on this setting.

  4. I use snapseed on ipad to edit my photos on the fly when i'm travelling or just a quick casual post on the web. I love what i can do with it, even on the humble ipad. This set of B&W is so far the best i have seen on your blog. :) Keep them coming.
    btw, i cancelled my trip to KL this december. will let you know again re the beer can 70-210. Otherwise, i'll ship it to you next month. cheers!

    1. Hey calex,
      No rush !! We will surely catch up, unless the world decided to end on 21/12/12 !

  5. Hi! I'm highly interested in purchasing the software. But in what form the software is purchased? Is it a download version or ships as a DVD? Thanks!

    1. You may download it off their website, the demo version. Then the trial is valid for 14 days. You may purchase the software and then key in the registration key to unlock the software. For everything else I think the website has a faq section that should be able to answer your questions.

    2. Thanks! I hope it runs my Sony RAW smoothly. From your post, it doesn't sound RAW-friendly. :)

    3. I am using an old Sony, A350, perhaps it is not back-compatible with a dinosaur camera. Nonetheless, if you really do need to verify, perhaps you may ask the support through email? I am sure someone on their end will be willing to help you.

    4. I once did an experiment. Converting a RAW into TIFF through Sony Image Converter, so as to keep the in-camera colour profile. Then I applied same tweak to the same RAW, TIFF and JPEG. Surprisingly, the JPEG has better noise suppression than the TIFF (which in my understanding, contains more information and data?).

      Wondering how will Snapseed perform in the RAW and JPEG processing. :)

  6. Robin,

    Don't know if it helps, but I found a way to use Snapseed as an external editor in Lightroom. Instructions for Mac and Windows:

    As I said, I don't know how this compares with your other workflow, but it is quick and it must use Lightroom's latest RAW converter for my E-PL5.

    JJ Semple

    PS. Agree with you about auto-focus, that modern digital cameras should be up to Olympus or Nikon V1 standards as their default positions. If they also offer features like Peaking for better manual focus, that's great, but quick and reliable AF should be the norm.

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