Prisma review: turns ordinary photos into works of art

“Photo-editing app Prisma is soaring up the iOS app charts. And with good reason too”

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For one of the most popular social networks out there, Instagram‘s premise is quite simple – photo sharing. The app’s clean interface, effective filters and straightforward tools make it easy for users to upload, edit and share images. And while there are plenty of apps for users who like to experiment with photo-editing, the process often tends to be complicated. Which is where Prisma stands out. The new photo-editing app by a little-known Russian developer has caused a quite a stir on social media of late, thanks to its beautiful filters that magically turn your photos into works of art. We’ve been using Prisma over the last few days to find out what all the fuss is about, and we have to say, it’s not for nothing. Here’s what you can expect.

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As of now, Prisma is an iOS-only app, but an Android version is apparently in the works. What’s great about Prisma is that it’s really easy to use. In fact, the interface reminds us a lot of Instagram. You have the option to either capture an image from within the app, or choose one from your camera roll. Opening up the app, you’ll see a viewfinder to capture an image on top, with controls to turn on flash, switch cameras and open settings just below. There’s a large shutter button at the bottom, along with a shortcut to your camera roll. In settings, you’ll find options to save original photos and automatically save artwork. By default, images edited with Prisma display a watermark on the bottom right, but you can disable this in settings as well. Once you pick an image, you can crop or rotate it. It’s worth pointing out that Prisma currently only allows square crops of images, and we hope that it brings support for landscape and portrait shots later, a feature Instagram introduced not too long ago.

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After this, you can apply one of Prisma’s 34 filters. The filters themselves are inspired by famous artists like Pablo Picasso, Katsushika Hokusai, Edvard Munch, Francis Picabia and others. Some filters are also based on artistic styles, like impressionism, gothic art, anime and comic books. Prisma‘s developers say that the app uses a combination of “neural networks and artificial intelligence” to apply filters. We’re not sure exactly how it works, but the filters themselves appear to be more complex than most, providing completely different results depending on the photo you use. Each filter takes a couple of seconds to generate, so if you want to test all the filters on an image it takes a while. You can drag your finger across the image to adjust the intensity of the filter, increasing or decreasing it as per your liking. Once you’re done, you can share directly to Instagram and Facebook, or save the image to your camera roll.

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Unlike Instagram, where a few favourite filters tend to get used repeatedly, with Prisma you never know how a filter will change your photo, which is what makes it so interesting. The app also scrambles the order of filters every time you open it, so you’ll end up trying most of them anyway. The results themselves are breathtaking, to say the least. Most ‘arty’ filters we’ve seen so far tend to produce artificial results, but Prisma has a knack for turning the mundane into a masterpiece. We’ve tried the app on a range of images, and while some produce better results than others, we’ve been largely impressed. That said, Prisma‘s effects are a bit over the top, and you probably wouldn’t want to use them for all your photos. Check out a few more before-and-after image samples below, and let us know what you think. 

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You can download Prisma for iOS here.