Macphun Software—maker of Snapheal and FX Photo Studio—has launched a pro version of its Focus 2 photo app for the Mac, designed to enhance the lens blur and tilt shift features photo editors are familiar with from its recent version 2 release.
The Pro software will sell concurrently with the standard version, but for $40 as opposed to $12, reflecting a target audience that Macphun hopes will benefit from the new version’s additional features.
Both Focus 2 products aim to direct the viewer’s eye toward the part of the image the photographer wants to emphasize. Such effects are optimally achieved during the initial photo shoot, with an assist from an assortment of lenses. In post production, achieving the same result in Photoshop or Aperture generally require a higher level of editing skill, not to mention some additional cash. The Focus 2 apps offer simple mouse- or gesture-based sliders within a straightforward interface that lets anyone go back and adjust the focus of their photos with real-time previews.
The new Pro version also assumes that some users will already own high-level image editing software. Thus, the first change you’ll see upon launching Focus 2 Pro is the prompt to install plug-ins to Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Lightroom, and Photoshop Elements, as well as Apple Aperture. In each instance, the plug-in is an adjunct accessed within the host program and launches into its own interface. Plug-in installation is a quick button click—no dragging and dropping files.
This new app boosts version 2′s functionality by several orders of magnitude. Alongside new plug-in support, the program features new advanced motion blur algorithms such as motion, radial, linear, and twist and increased control over depth of field (bokeh). You can further fine-tune blurred parts by adjusting the amount, vignette, saturation, highlights, and contrast. Additional controls for the sharp parts of the image include brightness, sharpen, clarity, and vividness. Like the previous version, Focus 2 Pro supports raw images up to a 16-bit.
As with the standard version, Focus 2 Pro contains five major aperture settings targeted to specific types of shots, including Portrait, Nature, Architecture, Macro, and Tilt-Shift. In each module, users visually set and adjust the focal point, blur amount, and falloff parameters. But don’t take the software at its word—instead check out all the parameters on your photo to see which one gives the best result.
A Custom Focus setting provides even greater control by letting you draw in a mask with an adjustable brush to indicate which parts of the image stay sharp and blurred.
Each preset works the same way. There’s a pre-defined primary focus and a gradual-falloff focus, and both are adjustable. The Custom setting works the opposite of the other presets: Choosing it applies a blur to your entire photo, and you then selectively paint a mask over the areas where you don’t want the blur to appear.
Focus 2 Pro removes some adjustments and enhances others. For example, version 2 Pro removes the Auto Fix command, which is a good thing. The crop tool is more intuitive than in the previous version. However, removing the mask in the custom tool still requires a trip to the main menu. It would also be nice if there could be an even smaller brush diameter for delicate mask selections.
All the Pro improvements come at a price. Whereas Focus 2 is now $12, you’ll have to fork over $40 for the Pro version, a rather large price difference. Focus 2 is still available via the Mac App Store. The Pro version is available via the vendor’s website. However, current owners of Focus 2 can upgrade to the Pro version for $20 via the Macphun website. The software will also be available from camera retailers on SD cards by the end of March.
Pros: Specialty focus lets you concentrate on composition and artistic rendering, swift performance, a variety of controls, easy to use for both amateurs and pros.
Cons: Custom masking is still somewhat unintuitive, smallest brush diameter is too big, large difference in price between standard and pro versions.
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