FX Photo Studio Review : Add Some Polish to your iPhone photos

FX Photo Studio iPhone_1

FX Photo Studio [rating: 4.5/5]

iPhone photo apps are probably the most popular genre of apps, if my social circle on Twitter is anything to go by. And I have to admit that since upgrading to an iPhone 4 as my day to day phone I am finding the much improved camera (over that in my long suffering iPhone 2G) is an essential tool in my daily life. I can actually take photos of documents (which people can read), and small intricate things I want to email to someone quickly for an opinion. But I can also take some rather nice HDR photos of moments in everyday life I come across, confident in the knowledge that the iPhone’s camera will almost always capture the detail I want.

FX Photo Studio iPhone_1But the photos I take, overall, are still a little bit flat. I don’t have a snap on lens with filters for my iPhone 4, although I know a girl who does. And often times it’s not so easy, when capturing quick shots of things that take your fancy, to get the lighting right, or catch the mood you wanted. So what we need is some post processing…

Enter FX Photo Studio 3.0 for the iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad…

FX Photo Studio 3.0 (which is a bit of a mouthful so I’ll just call it Photo Studio from now on) has been around for a while, and has been updated frequently. It boasts the “most high quality photo effects and filters on the App Store”. I don’t dispute it! And the app is certainly well put together.

Here is some of their own blurb about the kind of effects in the app..

FX Photo Studio 3.0 features three new categories: Groovy Lo-Fi (with effects simulating analog photos from 70s, 80s, and 90s), Grunge (such effects as Grunge Rays, Stencil Graffiti, etc.), SFX (such effects as X-ray and Night Vision Cam); old categories have also been updated with new effects. Three more categories – Color Lenses, Color Strokes, and Hollywood FX – are available as in-aps and include 33 more effects, raising a total amount to 204 high quality effects and filters.

There’s a lot to choose from, and even the downloadable content, which they don’t bug you about in the app (unless you ask) looks good too. These guys have been doing this for a while, relatively, and it shows.

The splash screen is really pretty, and I loved the little reflection of a view from the front camera on my iPhone 4, in a lens in the centre of a flower of multi-colour petals. I could have played with that for a while, all by itself, if I didn’t have to check the rest of the app out!

FX Photo Studio iPhone_2The user interface is smooth to respond, every option sliding a page one way or another to bring in more functionality. And on the most part it all flows and makes sense. For some reason, even on my iPhone 4, there was the occasional delay between pressing any button, and the interface responding. This made me double hit options, or hit the wrong options when I was incorrectly reacting to what I thought the interface would do, only to have it stutter. Why do I labour this point? Well, because in an app so polished it really stands out as a glaring flaw. But it’s not a deal breaker. Just surprising.

The choice of colour, style of the informational popups, and scrolling of menus of filters and effects are all superb. Taking a photo, or pulling one in from your photo library is seamless and easy to do. And the whole time with the constant theme throughout, even down to camera control options, you feel like you are in a stylish, cohesive pro app. And that helps make you feel creative. I found the entire experience in this app more fulfilling (and less frustrating) than in Apple’s own iMovie for iPhone, to give you some comparison.

Choosing effects is made easy with lots of options. You can just roll a dice, almost literally, by hitting a dice button to pass your image through a random filter. Or you can scroll through a very smooth and responsive (I knew they could do it – so why not elsewhere in the app?) illustrated column of effects, with a brief description and a sample image for each. Or you can step through each effect one by one. It is also possible to layer effects, so once you’ve processed an image, you can overlay another effect, and another, and so on.

I didn’t find any undo options. But this is not a huge issue, as you are working on an independent copy from your original image. But undoing the last effect would be a nice feature, even though I acknowledge you also have previews to make decisions based on.

Some effects relay on your image being a certain orientation, and the tools are there to manipulate that too. Although when a picture is landscape, and when it is not is not clear in iOS, or this app. But that is not Photo Studios fault! And you soon figure it out. Do any of you guys or girls out there find yourself fighting with auto-rotate on images, when going between landscape and portrait on the device? Or is it just me?

You can also crop and resize images, and so forth.

FX Photo Studio iPhone_3All the effects are governed by a global set of parameters which describe the size of image you want to work on. So if you are just producing email thumbnails, or a cool avatar you can downsize larger images. But conversely you can also thrash away on full size HD images with complex effects, and the app makes it very clear that your iPhone or iPod is not a Cray Supercomputer, and some processing may take a while. It’s very clear when processing is going on, and even on high quality pictures I didn’t have a problem with the processing time at all. It’s fairly quick for a smartphone.

The range of effects is diverse, and they are all of good quality. Some are a bit kitsch, so Facebook people will like those, and others are quite arty. But they are all customisable real time on a copy of the image you are working on. So the level of the effect can be varied, as well as other parameters which are effect specific. You can see the changes previewed in real time, as I mentioned before. After that you commit the image to be processed and wait short while.

Ultimately you can send the image just about anywhere, by any service. You know the drill. And the app will walk you through it.

At around $2.00, depending on your exchange rate, Photo Studio 3.0 is a quality product, that the developers know will be popular, and have priced very reasonably. And they can afford to because it will sell in large numbers.

If you want to sepia tone your iPhone shots, add fire or rain, a skull, love hearts, or simply affect the hue and tone to enhance a sunset in a panorama, Photo Studio can do all that.

If you are an iPhone Camera enthusiast FX Photo Studio is a must have app.


  • Great Effects
  • Great UI Design
  • Lots of Filters and Effects, some for everyone


  • UI is unresponsive, briefly, sometimes

$2.99 (View in iTunes)
Category: Photography
Updated: Nov 09, 2010
Current Version: 3.0.0
3.0.0 (iOS 4.0 Tested)
34.6 MB
Language: English
Seller: macphun.com, LLC
© 2009-2010 MacPhun LLC
Rated 4+
Requirements:Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later


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