The Good: Good design, many sorting options, simple workflow, good range of adjustments.
The Bad: Minor design details, occasional instability.
The Bottom Line: From the high-quality adjustments to the frictionless workflow, Reformator adds up to what a great utility app should be — barely there.
For the hobbyist or professional photographer, each image represents a significant investment of time and effort. Consequently, displaying each photo in its best light is a priority, as is guarding it from the big bad world of copyright infringers. Unfortunately, this takes time and is utterly tedious (I’m speaking from experience…).
One way of easing the pain is to batch process images where possible, and most professional library apps offer this service. If your workflow is relatively simplistic, though, the £99 that Adobe asks for Lightroom is quite steep. This is where an app named Reformator slots in — it claims to provide all the mainstream batch processing options you’re ever likely to need, at the much more palatable price of £5.49/$7.99. Very affordable, then, but can it stand shoulder-to-shoulder with more expensive offerings? I gave it a test drive to find out.
Reformator is the second app from Overmacs that I have reviewed for LTT, the other being Photosweeper. Having used both, I can report that they come from the same manual of styling, emulating Lightroom’s layout and feel, without quite matching Adobe’s polish. However, this does make for an interface that is easily navigable, and plain enough not to cause distraction.
Reformator’s layout is fairly clean and clear.
While folders and tools can be accessed in the left-hand sidebar, metadata is displayed over on the right, and the images you’ve loaded occupy the larger, central column. My only real complaint is with the background of each image — the light grey frame is unflattering and irritatingly eye-catching in an otherwise dark, muted colour palette.
However, the lack of clutter and intuitive layout of the controls make this interface a comfortable on-screen environment to work in.
A Simple Workflow
Being a one-trick utility, Reformator really needs to be a smooth operator. From the outset, it seems to fit that description. Although the introductory tutorial is long enough to be described as a cut-down manual, the app’s workflow is easy to pick up. In part, this can be credited to the use of multiple toolkits as you progress through the app, rather than packing all of the options into one environment.
There are plenty of sorting options available.
After loading up the folders or images you want to work on, you have a chance to sort through them. There are two options here, both neatly displayed — you can home in on groups of images that share certain attributes (colour space, bit-depth, etc.), or use the smart search for rooting out file names and keywords, alongside the attribute targeting. The former is particularly notable, given its effective file structure-like sorting system, but both tools serve their respective purposes well, and do so at a reasonable lick. It’s also worth noting the Quick Look and Info buttons here, which aid sorting.
Configuring the actual batch processing is remarkably simple despite the wealth of options at hand. The first few of those options relate to file management, with several naming systems available for the newly processed images, and all mainstream file types on offer. There are also a number of useful presets, which can be added to with your own custom parameters.
Actions are the beating heart of Reformator.
However, the heart of Reformator is the Actions menu. Here is where the batch adjustments can be found, under six headings: Filters, Geometry, Alpha Channel, Watermarks, Color Matching [sic] and Metadata.
Filters include variants on exposure, contrast and colour adjustments, a couple of auto enhancement options, a sharpness filter and curves. Most of these are absolute requirements, but curves aren’t always found in apps of this price. These adjustments appear to cause no noticeable degradation of image quality.
Some of the adjustments are quite advanced, such as Curves.
Under Geometry is a list of unremarkable, but effective trimming, cropping, straightening and resizing tools, along with the option to add a border. However, the Trim Color tool stands out; this cuts away areas of the image that include a designated hue, such as the colour of the pixel in the top-left corner — useful for discarding large areas of white sky or featureless backdrop.
Both the Alpha Channel and Color Matching menus are respectably equipped and fairly self-explanatory. While the former provides three different methods of applying transparency, the latter offers to assign or convert to a profile, or create a proof.
I would venture, however, that the Watermarks and Metadata tools are where most photographers will gravitate to, most of the time.
The watermarking tool is also a highlight.
Watermarks allows for text and images to be imprinted on the image, with colour, location, rotation and transparency fully customisable, and there’s the option to add a translucent rectangle behind the watermark. Choose the text route, and you can use certain metadata (e.g. copyright, capture date, etc.) to create a custom watermark, too. In all, it’s a thoroughly comprehensive kit.
And then there is the Metadata menu. Not terribly exciting, I realise, but necessary. The standards of capture date, file created date, keywords, rating and copyright/ownership can all be changed, but the ability to individually or collectively wipe private tags — such as GPS location or camera data — is nice to see.
There’s plenty in there, then. Reformator packs a serious punch, features wise, for such a modest retail price. From the high-quality adjustments to the frictionless workflow, it adds up to what a great utility app should be — barely there.
It’s not perfect, of course. The design needs a few tweaks, and the occasional crash it seems to suffer is not ideal. And for Aperture users such as myself, or Lightroom and Capture One users likewise, an app such as Reformator is largely pointless.
But for the price, and for the task it seeks to perform, Reformator is satisfyingly efficient.