imphoto (Standard version)
Version 2.0

Rating 2 stars

Bottom line: Requires a pricey upgrade to save at full-res or remove copyright mark.

imphoto for iPhone is an exposure enhancement app from imsense. Although the Standard version normally sells for $1.99 USD, from reading the App Store reviews, it’s often on sale (or free) and I picked it up for $0.99. The standard version has too many annoyances and disabled features to be really useful. It feels like a try-before-you-buy demo app and should be priced for free or at least allow the option of removing the annoying copyright mark.

imphoto for iphone compared to Perfectly Clear

imphoto compared to Perfectly Clear (Click to enlarge)

Like Perfectly Clear and SmartCam, imphoto is a Dynamic Range Correction (DRC) app which compensates for the limitations of the iPhone’s camera. Where many other “flash fix” apps simply crank up the brightness of an image leaving them flat and blown out, DRC apps use a number of algorithms to bring out the details in shadows without blowing out the highlights or color saturation. These apps quickly and easily improve the look of your photos.

imphoto has three, non-adjustable settings in the Standard version — Low, Optimal, and Strong. Once the filter is applied, you can easily toggle between your original image and the optimized version.

Looking past the limitations of the Standard version, how well does it work? imphoto is good, but not great. It did a decent job of correcting the gray cast and underexposure that the iPhone’s camera sometimes produces. It did a good job of restoring shadow detail — among the best in apps of this class. In some test images, the app revealed noise in some shadow areas especially using the Strong setting; in others shadow detail looked good. Highlights didn’t blow out and midtowns held up. I ran some images which were processed by other DRC apps through — images that I thought looked fine — and imphoto did little or nothing to those images. I like that it’s intelligent with its corrections.

In all of my test images, though, the enhanced contrast and optimized color seemed flat, especially compared to Perfectly Clear. Though improved over the originals, the optimized images were still a little foggy. At times, imphoto accentuated noise in the highlights that other apps didn’t bring out as much. It’s not bad, I just think it’s not great and I think there are apps that do an overall better job.

However, the limitations of the Standard version are what really make me regret this purchase. This version is feature-limited like a free demo app should be. And all of the features are unlocked by an in-app upgrade to the Pro version — an additional $4.99 purchase.

The Standard version saves at 853×640 pixels on my iPhone 2G. The Standard version doesn’t allow you to modify or fine tune any of the processing levels (The Pro upgrade supports 2G, 3G and 3GS resolutions, as well as allowing you to fine-tune exposure enhancements).

The standard version also adds an annoying copyright watermark at the bottom of the images. The only way to remove the watermark is to upgrade to the Pro version. This is common practice in free, lite demo versions of apps, but I think it’s inexcusable for an app that normally sells for $1.99. In order to justify the limited feature set and the non-removable watermark, imphoto Standard should be a free demo app. In order to justify a $1-$2 price tag, at the very least, the watermark should be removed.

For a total cost of $4.99-$6.99 (depending on which version of imphoto you purchased and how much the Standard version cost at the time of download), you can have the full-featured Pro version. That’s expensive compared to other apps in this class. imphoto does improve the contrast, luminance and color of your images. If imphoto performed significantly better than the other apps, I’d recommend the upgrade to the Pro version. At this time, I can’t recommend either version based on the combination of cost, performance, and image quality that is less than eye-popping incredible. I think there are other apps available which do a better job and cost less.

App Store link: imphoto



Related links: imphoto Pro |   Perfectly Clear |   SmartCam