Live FX sample Greg Louderman armand5

Live FX sample image by Greg Louderman

Live FX
Version 1.0.1

Rating 4 stars

Bottom line: A great app for someone who is willing to invest the time to master the various filter combinations.

Live FX iphoneography Best CameraLiveFX is a new app from Nick Drabovich/IMAPPL which allows you to easily create and apply thousands of unique photo effects by means of filter “stacking.” The app features a unique live preview which displays selected effects in the viewfinder before shooting.

It’s a good app. It reminds me of Best Camera with a lot more filters. It’s possible to create some great effects with this app.

There were a few issues with version 1.0 of the app and I held off my review. Nick is an active developer and he quickly addressed many of those issues in the 1.0.1 update which I’ve reviewed here.

You can import any images from your photo library or use Live FX as a camera. the viewfinder in the app is split between real view and an effects preview window. The camera feature uses a big-button full screen shutter to capture images. Previewing the effects live is a cool feature and is novel for iPhone cameras, but the app’s camera is bare bones. Importing images from your camera roll is easier and allows you to capture your images quicker with Apple’s camera, or with one of the full-featured camera replacement apps.

Live FX is more about the filters — experimenting, mixing, and sharing. There are over 30 basic effects and you can stack up to ten for each image. The basic filter set is well done and well-rendered — Sepia, Black&White, Inverse, and Radial Blur. The Lomo effect adds a nice amount of color saturation and contrast to the image. Feeling lucky? There is a Randomizer button which applies one filter randomly when applied or when the iPhone is shaken.

The most interesting filters and color effects for me are the black & white tint effects, where different shades of color are assigned to the gray levels in the image. These filters can be stacked with other effects. By themselves, they are simple black & white tints. Using them in concert with the Lomo filter, you can create some very interesting images. The order of the filter in the stack effects how the images will look. I found that Live FX give preference to the last filter applied. Be prepared to spend time experimenting with various combinations to achieve great results.

The frames are really nicely done. When Live FX adds a frame, rather than crop the edges of your image or reduce the image size to fit the frame, Live FX increases the image size around the edges. I wish that all apps which added frames did so this way

I also like that you can easily share filter recipes between Live FX and ComboArt users. Once you find a filter recipe that you like, you can save it to the app’s dashboard and share filter recipes via copy and paste.

Live FX has two levels of Flash enhancement. They’re both okay. Flash II worked better for me, but the results were not as good as a dedicated flash enhancement app.

I found a few glitches in this updated version. The filter labels cover up the zoom slider bar in the split viewfinder. I had to turn off the labels in order to use the zoom. The zoom is not a digital zoom. It doesn’t resample your zoomed images and is just in-app cropping. There’s no way to cancel out of the camera without taking the photo or exiting the app.

I didn’t really find the dichromatic effects useful (those are the black + a color effects). For me, they were more like an overall color overlay and tended to make my images too dark and oversaturated with one color.

In a future release, I’d like to be able to somehow stack the same effect on itself for added intensity, for instance, creating a high contrast monochrome image by stacking 3 instances of the Black & White filter. When I try this now, I am only able to select or deselect the filter.

Overall, Live FX is a very good app. Images save at full resolution. I think it’s a more versatile app than Best Camera, which Live FX is compared to often. I think some of the filters are more useful to me than others. Some iPhoneographers may find this app frustrating to use — there is an investment in time required to learn how the filters best work together. However, I’ve seen some amazing images processed by Live FX. This is a great app for someone who is willing to invest the time to master the various filter combinations.

Live FX is normally $1.99 in the App Store. There is a free, feature limited Lite version that you can try before you purchase the full version. Live FX is also available for iPad as ComboArt.

Live FX (create your own, shareable photo effects, preview them live in camera view) - Nick Drabovich


Live FX

The cancel button for Live FX's camera

Update 4/7/10 6:31PM: My thanks to the developer Nick Drabovich and a few others who pointed out that there is a way to cancel out of the camera without closing the app. Nick posted below and here is a screenshot of the camera of Live FX with the cancel button highlighted.

Also, I changed the app’s settings to “Save Image with size 1200”. Using the app’s built-in camera as Nick pointed out, my images now save at 1802×1200 pixels and are upsampled. It’s a pretty nice digital zoom for a mobile phone camera. Previously, I had “Save Image with size Original” selected, which seems more intuitive to me but doesn’t seem to work properly with the digital zoom. I’d like to see this resolution feature fixed to work as expected when “Original” is selected. =M=


Related links: Live FX Lite Live FX Lite (create and apply your own, shareable effects to live camera view, in real-time!) - Nick Drabovich | Combo Art for iPad ComboArt - Nick Drabovich

You can see more of iPhoneographer Greg Louderman’s work on his photoblog, greg57’s posterous.