A new update to the Darkroom app introduces a significant upgrade to its already great iPhone photo editor. It now includes AI-generated masks that can, for example, allow instant selection of a person’s hair, skin and teeth. Users can also select other scene elements, such as foreground and background, with just a tap. Many features are free to use, and a trial subscription unlocks even more. A hands-on test confirms the amazing new mask selections work as advertised, reliably isolating elements for quick and easy adjustments to perfect a photo.

RAW photography was once the domain of expensive DSLR cameras, high-end computer systems, and special software. Users needed these to take advantage of the superior quality possible with this format. However, that has changed dramatically in the last few years as smartphones began to gain the ability to capture and even edit RAW photos. In 2020, Apple pushed the improvements even further with its ProRAW format that retains the uncompressed image quality while still applying the AI-enhancements that give smartphone cameras the ability to compete with dedicated cameras.

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Darkroom has long been recognized as a great RAW photo editor, but the latest update makes it more useful than ever before. The new AI-powered masks create a three-dimensional map of the scene in a photo, allowing depth-based adjustments of color and exposure to correct and fine-tune in difficult lighting conditions. Even more remarkable is the AI-enhanced subject masking that automatically creates masks for hair, skin, glasses, teeth and a general mask around the subject. A ProRAW image or Portrait blur photo can be captured and quickly and easily refined directly on an iPhone with no need to transfer to a computer. If everything looks great, but the skin tone is off, a tap on the skin mask allows adjusting it separately from the rest of the image. Users can brighten hair highlights and sharpen details without affecting the face. It is a game-changing technology that improves upon the semi-automated masking of competing systems, and users can use these features for free. Additional options are available as a subscription or a one-time purchase, providing lifetime access. Darkroom posted a demonstration video on Twitter that seems almost too good to be true, yet it works, even on challenging subjects.

Darkroom For iPad & Mac

Darkroom is available for iPhone, iPad and Mac computers, and all three have this AI masking capability. A lovely aspect of the app is that one subscription or lifetime purchase makes the app available on all three devices and even supports family sharing. A monthly subscription costs $5, while the annual subscription is 50 percent off at $30. If used for two and a half years or longer, the best value is the ‘Unlock Everything Forever’ option, which is a one-time cost of $75. For an app that gets updated every few weeks and new features several times a year, a Darkroom-Plus purchase is an excellent bargain for anyone interested in the advanced features that can be unlocked.

Darkroom-Plus unlocks export with masks, more advanced color and curve tools, premium filters, watermarking capability with text or an image, and video processing. Being able to use Darkroom’s photo tools on a video is somewhat incredible, allowing a degree of control that’s hard to match. Even AI masks work on video when Darkroom-Plus is unlocked. Darkroom’s iPhone app is recognized as a strong competitor to Adobe Lightroom. This new update might tip the balance to Darkroom’s app, particularly since a Darkroom-Plus purchase works across the iPhone, iPad and Mac computers.