Focos Adds Impressive Computational Photography to Your iPhone

Focos Adds Impressive Computational Photography to Your iPhone

I thought I'd seen iPhone camera capabilities stretched just about as far as they could go with add-on apps, but I was wrong. Focos for iOS does a bunch of interesting things, including real bokeh effects, focusing a photo after shooting it which mimics light field photography, and selective diaphragms to give you different bokeh spot effects and 3D lighting, far more powerful and sophisticated than what Apple provides.

The app has been out for awhile, but continues to improve. It's free, but you can upgrade to a fully capable version of the app for $11.99 for lifetime access but the free version will provide many useful and unique features. More on this later.For the app to work, it requires an Apple iPad or iPhone with dual lenses. That means  you'll need an iPad Pro, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, iPhone XR, iPhone XS or an iPhone XS Max.

Here's how it works. After you take a photo, you'll get to a screen that shows your photo and gives you many options to edit. That includes refocusing after the fact, controlling the saturation of particular colors, altering the white balance, and creating bokeh effects. There's help for each selection you make, and a built in tutorial on the apps setting screen. You can also reload old photos and apply some effects to them, but not every older image you have will work with every effect. 

Since Focos includes depth information with every photo you take using that app, it's easy to edit with all that captured data. On old photos, effects that require depth effects aren't going to work.

I liked snapping a photo, then tapping at various places and changing the focus. You can adjust aperture after the fact, and you can add lights to a shot, moving the lights around the image to change highlights, then save it with whatever effect you like.

The app can save images to your camera roll, or it keeps it's own photo library and you can reload images you've taken with the app and refocus them or relight them again. Almost all the effects can be reapplied after a save. 

Focos supports cropping and a variety of aspect ratios, and you can output your photos in a variety of image formats.

A word about upgrades. You can get access to all the effects for $0.99 a month, or $6.99 a year, or $11.99 forever. I think an upgrade is warranted here, because some of the effects you'll want to try have a little lock icon on them and you'll just become frustrated. On the other hand, I tried to upgrade and got caught in an irritating loop with the Apple store where I provided my password and it kept asking for my password. 

Focos is a very cool app. A lot of work went into it. I'd love to see some of these options on my Sony or Canon DSLRs. Give the free app a try and see if it ignites your imagination about what's possible with computational photography. 

What I Like:

  • Powerful effects
  • Ability to change focus, lighting, other parameters after the fact
  • Free version does quite a lot
  • Variety of format options i.e. TIF, JPEG, HEIC
  • Supports Apple LivePhoto images

What Could Be Better

  • GUI can be confusing
  • Option to restore photo is off screen without dragging control bar
  • Tutorials aren't as detailed as I'd like
  • Developer website has no detail on using the app
  • Most of the bokeh effects are reserved for the paid versions

Have you tried this app? What are your thoughts?

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3 Comments

Maksims Ter-Oganesovs's picture

$11.99 for an app. Not sure, if I need it

Studio 403's picture

As I understand the app, not able to import photos into app. UGG

Take a snapshot. Slap a filter on it. Now it's high art.