Tiffen’s Photo fx Ultra is a photography app that’s been around for quite some time. In fact, we reviewed it way back in 2010, and we thought it was one of the best photo apps available at the time.
Since then, hundreds of other photo apps have been released, including apps like Snapseed and FX Photo Studio HD. You might think that Photo fx Ultra would be outdated and unable to compete, but the company has made efforts to keep it updated over the last two years. At version 5.0.1, Photo fx Ultra is just as useful as it always was, with hundreds of photo enhancements and effects.
When you first open the app, and import a photo that you want to work with, Photo fx Ultra may be intimidating. It opens to a menu bar that is teeming with photo filter effects, and it can be confusing to find what you’re looking for.
I think it’s entirely disappointing that this app doesn’t include a better tutorial system, but it’s not too hard to learn if you dedicate a bit of time to experimenting with the filters.
You’ll want to start out with cropping and straightening your photos, which can be done using the tools at the top of the toolbar. Both of these tools work really well, so you should have no trouble getting the look that you’re aiming for.
The bulk of this app’s appeal lies with its photo effects and filters, which are extensive. Using the film lab, you can add film-style effects that will spice up your photos, like grain and cross processing, both of which alter the color and style of your photos.
Even an ordinary photo becomes extraordinary when using these effects, though you’ll want to start out with experimenting with auto color, contrast, and levels. Each of these will subtly alter your photos, drawing out the best colors and adding some sharpness.
Photo fx Ultra may not have the most robust auto correcting features that I’ve seen in a mobile app, but they are good and they will make your average photos look much better.
Every single effect, like bleach bypass or faux film, has several different options associated with it. For example, the faux film effect has ten different sub-effects, each of which are slightly different.
I love this app because it has so many great effects, which encourages experimentation. You will find lighting effects in the diffusion category, and color effects in the grads/tints category.
In the image category, you can correct levels on your own as well as sharpen your image. You can’t interact directly with the histogram, but there are sliders to change the levels in your pictures. You can also paint over your images in this section, but the painting tools are rather rudimentary.
By the way, if you make a mistake or add a filter that you do not like, there’s a simple undo button that will reverse the changes.
In the lens category you can slightly alter the depth of field of your images, but this is not something that will work for every photo. This is also where you can add vignetting, which makes images pop.
There are some nice effects in the lighting category, which is one reason I will revisit this app. I loved the lighting additions, such as star and soft light, which subtly altered the highlighting of my images.
All of these photo effects can be layered, so you can create some entirely unique looks. Your finished photos can be saved, or shared on your social networks like Flickr, Facebook, and Twitter.
If you’re an experienced photographer, you will find a lot to like in this app. There are an array of effects that will make your iPad photos look amazing. At the same time, if you’re an amateur photographer just having a bit of fun, simple experimentation will lead to some fantastic photo effects, making this an app that’s perfect for users of all skill levels.
What I liked: There are hundreds of filters included with this app, so you can get the exact look that you want. There are also great image correction options that will turn even badly taken photos into masterpieces.
What I didn’t like: This app could use some tutorials on how to use the different filters in conjunction to create unique image effects.
To buy or not to buy: This is a robust photo filter app, and I highly recommend it if you’re looking to improve the photos that you take or import to your iPad.
- App Name: Photo fx Ultra
- Version Reviewed: 5.0.1
- Developer: The Tiffen Company
- Price: $4.99