I continue to be amazed at the functionality that photo apps are adding to the iPhone. FX Photo Studio for US$0.99 on sale is a case in point. The app already had barrels of photo effects, almost 200, but now it has added masking to the feature set. It's an easy way to highlight parts of a picture, and then apply an effect to only those areas. It's easier to understand if you see a demo, so try this video to get the idea.
This latest version of FX Photo Studio has added new effects, performance improvements, and additional editing tools for gamma, saturation and hue. Images can be imported from Facebook, and images can now be shared via Instagram, Twitter, Facebook Flickr, Tumblr or email.
Like any tool, adding effects to photos can really be overdone, but FX Photo Studio can provide filters that run the gamut from subtle to outrageous. The app also provides cropping and printing if you are so equipped.
I played with the masking feature and found it useful and powerful. In the gallery, you can see a landscape photo where I created a black and white background, but left Spider Rock in Canyon de Chelley in color. The masking process could be improved with the option of a smaller brush size. Although you can magnify the image for detailed work, the size chosen for the brush is just too large for some applications.
The app doesn't have any detailed instructions. Some of the methods to invoke an operation, like masking, are not blatantly obvious. Alex Tsepko at developer MacPhun told me a Wiki should appear today with details on how things work. I'd like to see it built into the app. FX Photo Studio lets you add to the filters with in-app purchases of $0.99 per set, but the whole app is on sale for $0.99 (regular $1.99), so that makes the add-ons too pricey. I would rather see them included, even if the app goes up a buck or so.
This enhanced version of FX Photo Studio for the iPhone is a significant update that in some ways leaps ahead of the Mac OS and iPad versions. I expect all the MacPhun family of apps will quickly gain feature parity.
If I could only take one photo editing app into the field I'd likely choose FX Photo Studio, and urge iPhone photographers to take a look. It's a lot of power to carry around in a pocket.