Downer Theatre Milwaukee iPhoneography


Blurred Photo
Version 3.0
Price: $0.99
BlurFX - DD Studio

Rating 4 stars

Bottom Line: Well worth a dollar for the powerful blur effects.

blurred photo for iPhoneBlurred Photo got an update, a new look and a new name — BlurFX — this week. I didn’t mind the old name and but like the new name better. Under the hood, though, it’s still a very nice, powerful tool for creating blur effects on your iPhone.

I’ve forgotten why I’d overlooked this app when it was first released. For various reasons, it didn’t appeal to me. Having recently seen it used in a great photo by iPhoneographer Sion Fullana and seeing what this app is capable of, I decided to revisit it. BlurFX (formerly Blurred Photo) by DD Studio just got a new update and it serves up some powerful tools in creating gaussian and motion blurs on your iPhone. It’s not a simple click and drag app — the tools are deceptively complex. But with a steady hand, Blurred Photo can be used to create precise blur effects on your images.

Images can be imported from your photo library or taken in app. There are three blur options — Motion, Gaussian and Median. If you’re familiar with Photoshop, the blurs behave the same way. Motion blur has a lot of sideways movement. Gaussian blur is an overall blur, and median blur produces posterized effects similar to watercolors. The amount of blur is adjustable.

Blurred Photo 2.2 screen shot


Regardless of selection, an overall blur is applied. You then use the brush to paint away the blur over the areas you want to remain in focus. The brush has two settings — a harder edge with a smaller blur radius and a softer edge. Brush size is adjustable. Brush behavior is easily switchable from “Clean” to “Blur” in case you need to paint back in areas of blur. There is an undo button with multiple undos and if you quit out of the app, you are asked if you want to continue the previous session when you reopen it. The app is well thought out in that regard. You can pinch to zoom in — two fingers onscreen doesn’t create a brush stroke. A double-tap onscreen restores you to fullscreen view. The update adds a new brush-size indicator, which is a great new feature. The brush size indicator is only visible when you are adjusting its size and it’s hidden as you paint. It’s an improvement, but I’d like the option of seeing the brush size as I paint, although given the limitations of the iPhone OS, I’m not sure if that’s possible.

It takes patience, practice and learning how the tools work and it takes a steady finger, but with the right combinations of settings, brush size and brush strokes, you can create some pretty impressive blurs. A well-painted blur can give additional focus to an element or give an image an overall sense of motion and urgency.

BlurFX differs from FocalLab in that it offers more precise control over the blur effects. While it’s much easier to create more natural looking overall blurs in FocalLab, you can create more precise blurs and use them for effects you cant achieve in FocalLab. See the example of the mannequin above. Both are great apps that work differently.

BlurFX also has separate color saturation controls for both the clean and the blurred areas. Gone are the ten frames in the version 2.2. They have been replaced in version 3.0 by eight, non-adjustable color filter presets offering a range of color effects. Most of them add a vintage or a toy camera quality to the image. They apply a pleasing amount of color and saturation adjustments and are far more usable than the frames they replace.

There is also a new adjustable vignette button, but only the choke is adjustable, not the blur amount, which is considerable and really needs a separate adjustment. I think the vignettes in version 3.0 are too wide, too hazy and poorly done. This isn’t a dealbreaker for me, though, as the primary purpose of the app is to create blurs, which it does very well.

The new multiple session feature is really nice. It allows you to save your work in progress, edit other images, and return to the image at a later date. Version 3.0 also adds the option of sharing your images straight to Facebook and Flickr.

BlurFX works on all iPhones running OS 3.0 and newer. It offers a wide range of output resolutions, including 5MP support for the iPhone 4. The larger the image, the slower the saves — it’s crunching a lot of data to do what it does.

One of the small improvements in the new 3.0 update is a new icon and splash screen. I’m still not too fond of either. They have been improved, but visually, both indicate to me that this is a very mainstream-oriented app. The app itself, though, is a pleasant surprise and is a great addition to an iPhoneographer’s toolbox. I like BlurFX a lot. It offers powerful tools to create impressive, Photoshop-like blurs right on your iPhone. BlurFX is a great app and a steal at one dollar.

App Store link: BlurFX (formerly Blurred Photo)



Related Link: FocalLab – Nexvio Inc.