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Focus 2 Pro review – add lens and tilt-shift effects

Eye-catching app for those wanting lens and tilt-shift effects and professional-grade focus tools


• OS X 10.7
• Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i3/i5/i7, Xeon

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Available from: Mac App Store

Focus 2 Pro

Focus 2 icon
Photography enthusiasts probably won’t need introducing to Macphun’s range of specialist Mac apps. Making your snaps look the business is, well, their business – they place powerful processing capabilities in the hands of beginners, hobbyists and professionals. Within this canon of suites is Focus 2, available in the Mac App Store, and known as an affordable performer for applying lens blur and tilt-shift effects. Here we’re looking at the upgrade in the form of Focus 2 Pro, which does all of the above while adding startling perspective and highlight options.

The emphasis here is on manipulating your photographs to almost add an artistic narrative – using effects to guide the viewer’s eyes and often produce a 3D quality. Static images can develop a depth and visual energy in virtually no clicks. Both versions hide any legwork though with a clean Photoshop Elements-like interface based largely around intuitive guide markers. Drag in orbrowse for your photo, crop it then move the line handles into position over the shot to live preview. Six main presets for Portrait, Nature, Architecture, Macro, Tilt-Shift and Custom help you optimise core parameters. These are chiefly based around applying Blur, Motion and an ‘In Focus’ tool for targeting brightness, sharpness or clarity. All are input via familiar slider controls, but overall the anchoring of regions directly over the photo delivers a tangible sense of control.

What’s more, the Custom option will appeal to advanced users by extending Focus 2 Pro beyond the one-size-fits-all territory of presets. Here you can paint and erase Masking before toggling Motion between Radial and Linear to achieve some seriously warped styles. This can prove a doubleedged sword, of course, and the best results rely on subtlety and a resistance to playing with so many great toys at once.

The real bonus for professionals here is support for neighbouring Adobe suites Photoshop, Aperture, Lightroom and Elements. This premium version bundles the plug-ins necessary to integrate it properly into a workflow, adding essential PSD support. It is this extra oomph that transforms a useful app into a suite of powerful tools the ‘pros’ should focus on.

Buy now?

Pros: Intuitive, powerful effects are liberated by plug-in and app support

Cons: Novices won’t crave upgrade, experts could stick with Photoshop

Orange 4 Stars