Photo fx in Review – Photo editing at its Simplest Form

photofx1Let’s be frank here; this is another photo modifying/ enhancing application for the iPhone/ iPod Touch platform, and when one downloads this type of app there are a few certain things that one expects. These are things like changing the colours and hues of the photo, the contrast and brightness, and things like that. However, Photo fx packages the functions and enhancements for photos in a very different manner, which I think is more appropriate for mobile use.

App Description:

Photo fx is the definitive set of digital optical filters for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Simulations of many popular award-winning Tiffen glass filters, optical lab processes and photographic effects are now at your fingertips.

  • Choose from 26 filters organized into 5 different filter groups
  • Select from 27 different film looks
  • Modify filters with sliders, on-screen controls or presets
  • Shake on the Filter screens to choose a random filter
  • Shake on the image editing screen to reset controls
  • Edit in portrait or landscape mode

photofx_origFor reference, above is the original photo that I’ll use for the review; a picture taken at the Hong Kong International Airport.

When I installed and loaded the program on my iPhone, I was given the option to either choose a photo from my library, or to take a brand new one using the built-in camera. I chose to edit one from my library, and then I was presented with a selection pane full of effects. This was something I was not expecting, as with most apps of this nature after the selection of the photo I wanted to edit, the interface would present the original photo with a selection of tools. However, this was something that I immediately thought was good, because in a mobile environment one would not want to do “too much” editing. Having these templates would actually make the process quicker and simpler on the device’s small screen, as opposed to full on Photoshop on a 20” screen.

photofx2After choosing the desired template, the program then applied it to my original photo, which then also gave me some more options to further modify the output of the edited photo, based on the original template.

photofx3To be honest, I really liked this approach towards photo editing, as it proved very simple and elegant for a portable application. At this point, Photo fx really reminded me of iWork, because these two applications run along the same concept of giving the user a few factory tuned templates, to which the user is then allowed a certain degree of flexibility to personalize the output. Although I agree that to some extent it does mean that the “power features” are not available, but in the case of Photo fx, I think it’s more than adequate. This is because I think the demographic that the developers were aiming for isn’t the “power user”, but the more casual photographers who just want a slightly more powerful camera function on their phones.

Back to the application; once I was presented with the above screenshot, I was able to change the amount of the filter applied to the photo. I was even able to dwell into a secondary layer of options within that particular template.

photofx4This actually was not something I was expecting, as I never expected the iPhone/ iPod Touch platform to have such powerful graphics capabilities. This tells me that this category of application still has room to grow and evolve.

Once I dwelled into the second layer of options and I made my selection, I was again shown the output, with the adjustment bar allowing me to further refine the output by the built-in template.

photofx5Once I have the desired effect, I could go ahead and tap the “save” button on the bottom-right corner of the application. This does a “save as…”, which means that whatever I do, my original is still in the photo album, and that should I wish to start again, I do re-start the entire process with the original. The final output is below:

photofx_postprocessNow, to be perfectly honest, the above description is only my first experience with Photo fx and was done on my daily commute to work. From the time I first downloaded this application to now, I’ve had many more experiences with the program, to which the resulting photos I cannot publish here (the people in those photos will kill me if I did…) Anyway, what I can tell you is that the program is a lot more powerful than that described above. For example, in some of the templates, the option is given for me to aim the specific filter at a certain spot of the photo, rather than applying it to the entire photo, which is a very good feature as there are certain parts of a photo that I would like to accentuate. It also gives the user more choice to personalise the photo using his/ her judgement depending on the subject and background of the photo.

In addition, there is a very good feature in this application: there is an undo/ redo function for all the templates. I like this feature a lot because this allows the user to see clearly the results of his meddling with the photo. In some cases, photos only needed slight adjustments; however, if the changes are not presented side-by-side, then these changes are not very evident. Now, it would be stupid to do this on the small screen on the iPhone/ iPod Touch. However, with this undo/ redo function this feature could be replicated and to great results too.

Onto my final thoughts of Photo fx; I really think that the concept of presenting changes to photos in a template style is very good and appropriate in this case. This is because with the smaller screen on these devices and the fact that you are doing it outside of the home/ office means that the user does not need the full functions of iPhoto or Photoshop. This template style actually gives a good balance between the more powerful functions of the desktop versions of photo editing software, and the very basic of applications in this category. The iWork style template actually does give quite a lot of flexibility to the output of the photo, which I really think is more than enough in a mobile environment; anything more and it will actually ruin the experience of the application and would actually be better achieved on the desktop. However, I do understand that this app is not for everyone, especially the more experienced of photo editors, as they would want more freedom with the application of filters (but they would be at the office with Photoshop anyway…). I think with its intended audience, Photo fx is a very good photo editing tool with adequate functions for its purposes.


App Summary
Title: Photo fx Developer: The Tiffen Company
Price: $2.99 App Size: 1.4 mb
  • Template style approach to editing
  • Quick application speeds
  • A wide array of filters; some with secondary layer of options
  • Nothing major to report here…


Next ArticleSteel and Rocketfuel: ExZeus in Review