I’m always on the lookout for new software tools. When I opened up the Mac App store this week, I saw that the FX Photo Studio Pro app was highly ranked. This app is billed as a creative powerhouse and is a great way to add effects to images for stylized looks and borders. It is a Mac only app (to be expected when the company’s name is MacPhun).
Opening an Image
The App works with one image at a time. You can open images from a wide range of file formats. FX Photo Studio PRO support opening of the following image formats: TIFF, JPEG, PNG, BMP, NEF, CRW, CR2, NRW, ORF, RAW, RW2, PTX, 3FR, ERF, RAF, DNG, MRW, MOS, ARE, SRF, SR2, RWL, ARW, PEF.
The current version of the app can handle very high-resolution files (up to 64 megapixels). Images that exceed this size are automatically down-sampled when open. The apps handling of TIFF and RAW files has also been updated in the most recent release to give better results with exposure and color.
As you bring in an image, there are three major working areas. You’ll find three buttons in the upper right corner. You can work through these in any order, but my preference is to work right to left initially.
The controls here are powerful enough. They match the sliders you would get in iPhoto. I recommend that you finalize the initial processing in your image editor of choice, but the controls here are adequate for most images. You can also revisit this tab after applying effects to refine them. I find using the Compare and Quick Compare buttons useful in order to see the before and after states. When satisfied with an adjustment, click the Apply button.
The Crop Rotate module is very straight-forward. I find the use of Crop proportion presets a easy way to achieve popular ratios for print or screen use. You can also specify a width and height preset. Cropping is a destructive process that discards pixels.
While working with an image, you can also choose to rotate it. This is useful to straighten horizons or objects. You can use the rotate buttons for 1 degree turns, shift click for 5 degrees. Images can also be flopped horizontally or flipped vertically.
This tools are easy enough to use, but there’s room for slight improvement. There needs to ability to rotate in smaller than 1 degree increments to deal with minor rotation issues. It would also be nice to be able to set a specific canvas or image size.
The real standout use of FX Photo Studio Pro is the FX (heck it’s in the name after all). The effects are organized into two major categories. Effects give the image a new look by adjusting color, contrast, and image details. The Frames category adds several options for creating organic and stylized borders.
Effects are grouped into 20 categories which make them easier to browse. In all the current ships with 159 effects. The thumbnails for each image show the effect before clicking. Once you’ve chosen one, editing controls are available Most of them can be customized with sliders or on-screen controls. .
The big thing to remember is that effects can be combined. Just click the apply button to add the first effect, then choose an additional one to compound the effect. You can also revisit the Adjust tab to refine an effect with even more controls. Just apply it, then adjust the image’s appearance.
A collection of 40 frames are organized into 40 categories. These frames are more versatile then first appearance as adjusting their sliders can produce wildly different options. The Grunge&Analog category proves very likable and versatile.
The frames could be dramatically improved however with the introduction of a color picker. Why the effects are versatile and easy to use, a few more controls would benefit a power user.
Any combination of effects can be saved as a preset. These can be easily reused on additional images by a single user. Presets can also be easily shared with others via a short code that you can email.
Export and Share
A program is only as good as its ability to get the images back out. The application supports several professional formats like TIFF, PNG, JPEG, JPEG-2000 and OpenEXR.
A nice touch is the ability to share directly to Apple and Adobe software. Whether its iPhoto or Aperture from Mac, or Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, or Lightroom from Adobe, you can easily send the images over by choosing Share > Export To and picking the desired destination.
The application does a great job with social networks as well. You can target the many of the most used social networks (Google+ and Pinterest being noticeably missing). You can also access Mac applications like Message or Mail to share with others.
The application is quite useful and adds abilities to stylize images that many other more expensive packages lack. Its control over border in fact make it a must add for my workflow.
I’d recommend downloading a trial from the company website to see if its a welcome addition to your toolbox. You can also find it in the Mac App store if you prefer to buy software that way.
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