photonova 2, iphone photo app for iPhoneography

iPhone photo app PhotoNova 2 has been out for a while. The original PhotoNova has been through several versions and numerous updates. The app helps you enhance and transform photos using its many photo filters and a pretty diverse set of tools to make custom edits to your iPhoneography.

Recent updates have really stepped PhotoNova 2 up few notches. I’ve reviewed this app on the blog previously. Its recent updates of make it worth a second look.

photonova 2, iphone photo app

photonova 2, iphone photo app for iPhoneographyPhotoNova 2 is an interesting combination of filters and selective ways to apply them. The app has always had an extensive set of colored filters to apply to your photos. There’s a broad range of filters conveniently broken down into several categories. This is a good feature that helps make it easier to navigate the menu and find the filter that you’re looking for.

Filters range from obscurely-named retro film recreations to more dramatic color and black & white filters that really change the mood of an image. I found the color palettes chosen to be well-selected and usable overall. Many of the filters add noise to the image and adds a good simulation of analog film grain. Nice. As I said in my previous review, it’s a good selection of filters. They’re not outstanding or very unique, but for a buck, there’s a good, very usable selection here. Most of the effects have basic, “everyday” frames which can be toggled on and off with a double tap. It looks to me like the frames are optimized for square format and distort a little when applied to a standard 4:3 image. They also seemed to me to be a little soft, implying that the frames are not full resolution. If your final destination is sharing to Instagram, none of this should be an issue to you.

Applying effects is one-click easy. There is no way to adjust the intensity of each effect. However, once applied, you can stack and layer more effects on top of the image. Although Instagram is also one-click easy, effect sliders have become the norm in apps such as this. This is a feature that would be a great, probably essential, addition in a future update. It’s missed in this version.

photonova 2, iphone photo app

Variable edge feather of Lasso tool

The selection tools have all improved over previous versions. You can make some pretty creative edits with the lasso and selective edits tools. If you’ve used Photoshop, the lasso tool behaves just like you to expect. A great improvement that’s been made to all of the selection tools in the app is that you can now adjust the feather of the edge of the selection. I like this feature because it allows you to soften the blend between your selection and the background. Here, it’s easy to apply and it works well. In my test, the lasso tool is now accurate and very responsive. The selective edits schools have easy to see handles which make it easy to grab and resize the selection area. The usability and accuracy of the selection tools have improved significantly since I last looked at the app and that makes PhotoNova 2 a lot nicer to use. And a lot less frustrating.

PhotoNova 2 also has a selection of Emboss, Sketch, and other channel operations-type filters. They’re also editable but again, they are one-click easy.

There’s a lot going on in PhotoNova 2 and a lot of tools to pack into the interface. There are several context-sensitive fly-out menus. This keeps the screen relevant to the operations at hand and helps reduce clutter in the user interface.

You’ll see a lot of this in the selection tools. For instance, a tap reveals the selection feather slider. Another tap gets you back to the effects screen. Yet another gets you to a navigation screen, which allows you to pinch and zoom your way for detailed editing.

PhotoNova 2 has a lot of other tools scattered throughout its interface including a good crop tool and other basic image editing Tools. It supports the full 8 MP of an iPhone 5 and 4S. It’s got great sharing options to all the major social networks, including share to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and all the apps that support Apple’s Open In… feature.

photonova, content aware, fix tool

PhotoNova 2’s Fix tool. Left: original image. Right: “Fixed” image.

Not everything is great with these recent updates of PhotoNova 2. The Fix tools still needs a bit of fixing. It’s a content-aware repair tool that is supposed to work similar to the way the excellent retouching app TouchRetouch by Adva-Soft works or the content-aware tools of Photoshop. However, for me instead of cleaning up basic objects, all it did was smear them around and leave a lot of artifacts in the image. It might be usable to fix very small blemishes in an image or to clean up other image “schmutz,” but for removing larger things like text, clouds, and people it’s very ineffective.

In my previous review of PhotoNova 2, I was very hard on it. I had seen the press the app was getting from reviewers on other websites. After I tested it myself, I thought either they actually had not looked at the app or must have been reviewing a different app than I was. Back then, a lot was broken, a lot didn’t work and a lot simply didn’t make sense about the app.

I hate to leave a bad review out there, especially when the developer has taken the time and effort to fix nearly every criticism that I made about the app in my original review. And that’s the case here with the latest updates of PhotoNova 2. PhotoNova 2 is a much improved photo app with these latest updates.

PhotoNova 2 is an interesting app with a lot of good one-click filters for iPhoneographers who want a fairly quick workflow. It also has a good set of tools for those who would like more custom editing ability. There are a lot of features here found in other apps, but it now has a good working toolset that lets you do more.

I wouldn’t say that PhotoNova 2 is a classic iPhone photo app, but it’s become a good photo app. If you like what you see here, and like what you see in the App Store previews, for a buck it’s worth a look and you’ll like what the app can do for you.

PhotoNova 2 is $0.99. Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 5.0 or later. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.



photonova 2, iphone photo app for iPhoneography

photonova 2, iphone photo app for iPhoneography

photonova 2, iphone photo app for iPhoneography


PhotoNova 2 1.2.1

Effects Quality
Resolution & Image Quality
User Interface
Price / Value


An interesting combination of a lot of usable filters and selective ways to apply them. Greatly improved with recent updates, but still few issues. Recent updates make it worth a second look.

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UPDATE 07.20.13: Reworded and clarified the bit about other reviewers. Fixed another typo. Thanks go to Susan Maxwell Schmidt for spotting that.