iPhone App Review: MPro

Version reviewed: 1.0
Price: $0.99

Rating 3 1/2 stars

Bottom Line: I like it. It’s got a great feature set, but it’s a very slow shooter and the user interface needs some tweaking.

mpro black & white iPhone cameraIt’s going to be an interesting week for true black & white camera apps.

MPro app is a new app from the developer of the very good Nofinder – No Viewfinder Camera app. It’s another high-end camera app designed to capture high-quality black and white photography.

MPro is similar to another black & white camera app, Hueless by curious satellite in what it delivers and has a few features that Hueless lacks. But, how it works as a camera is very different than the simplicity of Hueless.

At its core, MPro is a powerful black & white camera app with a good set of tools and filters for creating high-quality black & white photographs. Like Hueless, MPro saves images in grayscale, not RGB, black & white. This results in a pure, less lush monochrome for some purposes such as printing than an RGB black & white app like Noir Photo.

MPro processes in real time with a live preview viewfinder. The display toggles between plain, one of two composition grids, and shutter and ISO speed displays. There’s a fly-out menu with most of the app’s settings and filters. The separate focus and exposure lock buttons are pretty easy to use — simply center your target and lock either or both. MPro lacks the exposure adjustment that Hueless has.

It has a great complement of filters and settings, including several color filters — red, green, blue — which are not for colorized effects, but the digital equivalent of shooting through colored gels to filter out various wavelengths of light. In both MPro and Hueless, this is a great pro feature and I consider it an essential one for any great black & white app. MPro also has an IR LIKE filter that’s like the Red filter on steroids. For adding great depth and contrast to blues, I really like it a lot.

MPro also has a Tone slider which adjusts the contrast. By turning up the contrast, you can create some stark black & whites, similar to shooting with a very fast film. There’s also a Type control which adjusts red, blue or green light to let you emulate different types of film stocks.

MPro is a slow shooter. Recovery time was between 4-6 seconds between shots — much slower than Hueless. That’s an eternity if your subject is moving and greatly increases the chance that you’ll miss subsequent and safety shots. Other photo apps that use an image cache have a big advantage over MPro’s live processing.

Unlike Hueless’ onscreen simplicity, most of MPro’s tools are hidden offscreen in the menu. This involves a few extra clicks and a little extra time to change your settings. The intensity of MPro’s color filters cannot be adjusted — they are all or nothing.

Visually, MPro’s user interface takes a bit of getting used to. The onscreen tools are basic, simple and functional. The menu is laid out gridlike, which gives you quick access to all of the app’s tools. Visually, though, the menu and buttons are typeset in Helvetica Bold all-caps. Maybe for a logo or a blog header this is okay (tongue planted firmly in cheek…), but it’s a little stark for a user interface. MPro looks functional, but not welcoming.

MPro has more save options than Hueless, including high-quality JPG and uncompressed TIFF. You can save in low, medium and full size image sizes up to the 8 MP resolution of the iPhone 4S. MPro saves a lot of EXIF data but doesn’t save Geotags.

While saving as TIFF minimizes the artifacts that can sometimes happen with compressed JPGs, file sizes are huge — 8 MB for each image compared to the ~1.4 MB file size of a standard RGB JPG that most apps save. The larger file size can fill up an iPhone quickly if not managed off device. For me, the tradeoff in filze size versus image quality was negligible for me and not visibly significant for most uses. You’ll probably only want to save an uncompressed TIFF file if you’re planning on making high quality, oversize enlargements of your images, such as gallery prints. Even then, the visible difference between TIFF and high-quality JPG is extremely minimal.

If all of this has gotten confusing, MPro has a very extensive online help system to help you get up to speed on the app. I had to refer to it frequently when first testing this app.

I like the feature set of MPro. It’s got a good set of tools for getting great looking black & white images in-camera. But it’s a much slower, more complex camera app than Hueless. Currently, it also has some great features that are not in the latest version of Hueless. MPro requires users to think and plan out shots a little more than Hueless does. MPro has more high end features for creating great-looking pure black & white photography, but the Hueless UI lets you work faster and easier.

Both apps are good. Choosing one depends on how you work.

MPro is $0.99. Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod touch (4th generation), iPad 2 Wi-Fi, iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G, iPad (3rd generation) and iPad Wi-Fi + 4G.Requires iOS 5.1 or later.

MPro - Toshihiko Tambo



Part of MPro’s extensive online help


UPDATE: Added clarification. Thanks, Mike Hardaker. “This results in a pure, less lush monochrome for some purposes such as printing…”

About Marty Yawnick 1808 Articles
Marty is a self-employed graphic designer in the Fort Worth/Dallas Metroplex. He is an avid Rangers baseball, Chicago Cubs, Packers and Highbury Arsenal fan. In addition to capturing random moments with whatever camera is close by (usually his iPhone), his other interests include coffee, film, music, and traveling in seats 5E and 5F with his fiancé.
  • Mike Hardaker/Jag.gr

    There is a misconception that needs to be cleared up here, i think.

    Saving true B&W images as grayscale doesn't deliver a "pure, less lush monochrome than an RGB black & white app". Each will contain exactly the same information, only the RGB one will (essentially) have three copies of it.

    The only key difference between the two is the file size (the RGB image will typically be bigger, depending on the compression method—if any—chosen) and, potentially, the ease of editing in other apps (not all of which may as comfortable with grayscale as they are with RGB).

    What really does matter is if the app converts to grayscale before doing its processing (contrast, brightness, and so on) or not, and how it does that conversion when it does it.

    But from the perspective of "lushness" or "purity" there is no difference at all whether the final output contains a single grayscale channel with each pixel having a value of between 0 and 255, or three channels each containing (identical) values between 0 and 255, which end up getting averaged to create the pixel.

    • Mike Hardaker/Jag.gr

      By the way, I think the confusion comes from Photoshop, where converting to grayscale simply desaturated an image, while the B&W option allows the graphic artist to manage the process at a more granular level (and also keeps an RGB image as RGB, allowing for later tweaking such as duotone-style effects that add color back in to the monochrome image). However, if the "RGB B&W" image remains truly monochrome there will be no difference whatsoever between the final output whether you convert it to grayscale before saving or not. It's the same with apps.

    • http://lifeinlofi.com lifeinlofiblog

      Hi, Mike,

      Thank you for stopping by! And thank you for going into more detail the differences between grayscale and RGB black & white (or effective lack of). Yes, onscreen, there should be no difference between the two. In fact, onscreen, the grayscale is presented in an RGB color space. You did an excellent job of clarifying the two where I probably would have run on for an additional few hundred words.

      Let me add one more thing to your clarification. The difference between grayscale and RGB black & white is pretty pronounced when printing images is involved. Grayscale images print using only the black ink in a CMYK color space. RGB images get converted to a really nice, rich CMYK "Rich Black" using all four colors to create very deep blacks. I realize that I didn't really discuss those points in my review also.

      Thanks, Mike.


      • Mike Hardaker/Jag.gr

        Hi Marty,

        The printing issue is interesting, but it really depends on your software and printer. band you can always convert a grayscale image in (say) Photoshop to RGB in order to benefit from the software's (or printer driver's)—arguably, odd—later conversion to CMYK.

        I guess the point remains, though: a true B&W image is the same in grayscale or RGB; it does have the opportunity to be presented differently if converted to CMYK, whether or not that conversion is conscious!

        However, not all software/driver combinations convert RGB (or grayscale) to CMYK In the same way; some will present grayscale as "rich" CMYK while others will treat B&W RGB images as K-only. So, unless you know what your particular tools will do, it's something of a crap-shoot. And if you have that kind of knowledge (IMO), you'll typically not be too bothered whether a B&W image is grayscale or bit, as you'll be able to work with it! 😉



  • Draigg Phillips

    All this discussion is very interesting, but all I know is that I've been playing with this app this afternoon and I'm totally impressed with the results no mater what combination of filters, tones, or types I've mixed up. The only complaint I have is the need to invoke the menu every time I want to see how something looks with a different combination before shooting and how the menu essentially covers up the screen. I end up having to invoke the menu, make my selection, the close the menu to see how it really looks, then re-invoke the menu if I want to try a different combination. I think in that respect Hueless has a better UI.

    I don't usually do much B&W photography, but with this app, that's likely to change. I'm very surprised they sold this for a mere $.99. Get it before they wise up, folks!!

  • Egmont van Dyck


    I tried briefly the app with the iPhone resting on a tripod. As I understand the focus and exposure is that one moves the smartphone to the desired point you want to take an exposure and then lock it, the same for the focus. When done compose the image. This is a problematic! Not everything takes place in the center. The developer needs to follow general protocol of other apps. If I am wrong, please tell me.

    Right now there are only 3 different image size settings and I hope that in the future it will offer more choices as in 645 PRO.

    As for the menu screen, I prefer it over the crammed 645 PRO menu that remains visible all the time. From where I stand, both of these apps I would use for serious iPhoneography and not for casual picture taking, when one is in a rush, so the lag time between exposures is not that big of a deal.

    I look forward to trying out MPro in the field and under various conditions.

    • http://lifeinlofi.com lifeinlofiblog

      Good points, Egmont, especially the points in and around not using it when one is in a rush.


  • http://labbai.blogspot.com labbai

    I took a shot with Mpro today, and can’t blame the result: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-EVBJrVmaY3M/UN3YGmnqBSI/AAAAAAAADQw/Yv0oc5_wPFY/s1600/kesäkuva.jpg