Polarr Review: Online Photo Editor For Desktop and Mobile Editing

Brandon LazovicJanuary 21, 2021

Looking for a new photo editor that’s comparable to industry standard tools, like Lightroom? Polarr makes a compelling argument with its online photo editor, offering similar functionality in both its free version and monthly subscription service. 

Read our latest review of Polarr, where we’ll cover what the app is and all the features you can use to edit your photos with this tool. 

What Is Polarr? 

Polarr is a photo editing application available on both desktop and mobile for Windows 10. This tool is similar in scope to other photo editors such as Adobe Lightroom or Skylum Luminar.

Is The Polarr App Free? 

Polarr does offer a free version of its application, which has a few feature restrictions, as well as its Polarr Pro subscription to unlock all available tools and features within the app. 

How Much Does Polarr Pro Cost? 

At this time of writing, Polarr Pro costs $19.99 per month in the Windows app store - we’ll cover the additional features unlocked with Polarr Pro later in our review. 

Can Polarr Edit Raw Photos? 

Right now Polarr doesn’t offer full RAW editing. The app does offer the ability to convert RAW files to JPEGs to make your edits, but it’s a shame for most professionals or enthusiasts who shoot in RAW. 

Who Is Polarr Designed For? 

You should check out Polarr if you fall in one of the following buckets: 

  • Looking for a free / affordable option to Photoshop or other expensive editors
  • Looking to easily add special effects or retouch images with limited editing experience
  • Quickly auto-enhance your images 
  • Perform more complex edits using the Polarr Pro subscription
  • Jump into a photo editor with an easy interface / low learning curve
  • Learn how to perform photo editing, leveraging Polarr’s expansive online tutorial library
  • Limited spec requirements for your devices to run the app

Pros And Cons Of Polarr

Below we’ll cover the pros and cons of the Polarr app: 

Pros

  • Several lighting and color adjustment options
  • Ability to set / resize images
  • Easy and intuitive interface
  • Raw image import - automatic JPEG conversion

Cons

  • Best served for single users - no organization / sharing options
  • Price point is higher than industry standards like Adobe Lightroom
  • Monthly subscription service for Polarr Pro

Photo Editing With Polarr

Now that we’ve covered the basics, read below for our experience with Polarr.

Managing Your Photos

Importing your photos is simple - the app will automatically convert any RAW images into JPEG format for editing, allowing you to open folders or connect photo files directly within the app. 

Unfortunately the organization features within this app are lacking in that you aren’t able to tag or reject images that you’ve imported. 

However, Polarr will show you common meta tags for your photos, including f-stop, shutter speed, ISO, focal length, and geotagging. 

Auto Enhance Feature

In editing programs, using the "auto" or "auto enhance" buttons can be useful for getting a better starting point to work from. With Polarr, the Dehaze slider is aggressive, which helps to obstruct shadows, although you can change the highlights, blacks and contrast sliders. For smooth, hazy pictures, Auto-enhance works well and can produce eye-catching effects in a single click.

Tone and Color Adjustments

Similar to Lightroom, Polarr provides color and tonal controls. For white balance, it has Temperature and Tint sliders, but no auto-white-balance option. It also has a Vibrance slider to help with color improvements. 

Polarr includes highlights, shadows, white and black sliders while changing color, which you adjust to reach a complete tonal spectrum when displaying the histogram (s).. In either side of mid-tones, whites and blacks customize large sections. Only the brightest / darkest areas of the picture are changed when adjusting the highlights and shadows.

Curves

The curves in Polarr can be useful for introducing some basic color to the images you’re editing, but the changes are modest compared to other photo editing softwares. Polarr offers a RGB curve for tweaking the contrast within your images that’s simple to use. 

Sharpening

For sharpening effects, Polarr provides a clarity slider that sharpens mid-tones and usually adds punch to images and a very simple sharpening slider with no control of the radius. Again, the sharpening tool is simple, but somewhat lacking. 

More Features and Tools

Outside of the main features mentioned above, here are several other tools included within Polarr: 

  • Crop tool
  • Spot removing tool (heal and clone modes)
  • Distortion correction
  • Text tool
  • Film filters
  • Photo effects (grain, diffuse, pixelate, fringing)

Features Offered In Polarr Pro

Now that we’ve  covered what’s offered in the free version, below are more options available when you subscribe to Polarr Pro:  

Masks

Polarr Pro's key benefit is the use of masks for regional modifications. They have masking tools for radial, gradient, color, brush, depth and luminance. These are techniques for selecting particular sections of the image for editing that work rather well within the app. 

If you would like to manually pick an area for easier access, you can use the brush tool. This provides an optional "Edge Aware" assist that helps prevent contrasting edges while you are painting areas for selection, if used carefully. For masks, there are also brush size, contrast, stiffness, flow, feathering, delete, display mask and invert options.

Overlays

You can also add overlay effects within Polarr, whether you’re using your own background overlay or one of the Polarr presets (clouds, sky, backdrops, etc…) 

Noise Reduction

Polarr Pro offers color and luminance Denoise sliders if you’re looking to sharpen or reduce noise within your photos. Note: these edits don’t currently combine with masks. 

Exporting Photos

Polarr lets you save your file, upload it, or batch export it when you're finished with your edits. Sadly, the app does not make use of Windows 10's sharing sidebar, meaning that images can’t be shared easily via email or social media. 

In-app export allows you to save in either .JPEG or .PNG format, and you can select the percentage of pixel size and image quality - this option is available in other photo apps, such as Adobe Photoshop Express or Microsoft Photos. 

Final Impressions

Polarr is an excellent free photo app, for those that don’t want to spring for more costly applications such as Photoshop Elements or Lightroom. 

Polarr allows you near-Lightroom power over photographs in certain respects, but it is lacking in organizational resources and its restricted collaboration features preclude it from earning a better ranking. 

While the free version is robust, the monthly subscription of $19.99 per month offers similar functionality as other industry standard tools like Adobe Lightroom or Skylum Luminar. 

Our Rating: 4/5

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