Taking and Editing Photos with the “Fotor” App

February 28, 2014

in App Reviews

  • SumoMe

How may photography-related apps exist for computers and mobile devices?

imageBeats me. But there are probably tens of thousands out of the million-plus apps that have been developed for Apple and Android gadgets alone.

Recently the developer of the free “Fotor Photo Editor” app asked me to test and review it. It works on the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android devices, Windows and Windows 8 and Mac computers.

Here’s what I discovered using Fotor on my iPhone 5.

The Fotor app has several functions. Here’s what the app’s developer says (in quotes) that it can do, and what my testing revealed.

Collage

“Fotor’s brand new collage feature let’s you assemble up to 9 photos and choose from dozens of creative border types, and even resize each individual frame. Design your collages any way you want with ultimate freedom!”

“Collage” was the first function I tried out. Here’s my initial collage.

IMG_2231

Fotor gave me several multi-photo templates to choose from, allowed me to quickly re-size the photos, and add the borders and rounded corners.

But since I could only import one photo at time into the collage, I had to repeatedly return to my iPhone’s Camera Roll to select photos from the album in which they had been included.

Effects and Borders

“Stretch your creativity further with Fotor’s huge palette of effects and borders. Over 90 effects in various categories, including Favorites, Analog, Lomo, Neon, Retro, Vintage, B/W, and more. We’re constantly creating new effects & frames to bring you even more options!”

Borders

“Borders” gives you several choices for “trimming out” your photos. I used “Blue Stamp” with this photo taken in Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite Stamp

Special Effects

Here’s a photo that I shot of a guy surfing on a stream running through Munich’s English Garden.

Surfer

And here’s the same photo after application of the “Sutro Fi” special effect in the Fotor app.

Surfer FX

Scenes

“Sophisticated photo enhancement technology gives you 1-Tap Enhance, as well as 13 different 1-Tap Scenes that automatically adjust your photo depending on the lighting conditions.”

Unfortunately, the “Scenes” enhancement is not included with the free version of the Fotor App. You can “Demo” it to see how it might change a photo, but you’ll have to make a $0.99 in-app purchase of the “Scenes Package” to permanently alter the photo.

Here’s what my original, overexposed landscape shot looked like in the Fotor app.

Original Landscape

And here’s the same shot after using the “Darken” option in the app’s “Scenes” function.

Darken Landscape

1-Tap Enhance

“1-Tap Enhance quickly transforms “dull” or “bad” photos with a pixel by pixel enhancement. Analyzing brightness, contrast, saturation and exposure values, Fotor optimizes all to give you an amazing photo.”

The feature has three options: “Low,” Medium” and “High.”

Here’s the original of same photo that I had enhanced using the “Scenes” function after I amped it up with the “High” 1-Tap process. While it’s simpler to use, “1-Tap” didn’t produce as desirable image as the one created using “Scenes.”

One Tap

“Powerful Photo Editing”

“Fotor gives you some of the most powerful and easy to use photo editing tools to adjust brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness, vignette, temperature, tint, cropping, rotation, and more.”

Most photo editing apps allow you to customize an image by changing the parameters listed above. Here’s the same landscape shot after I altered the contrast, saturation, and hue with Fotor.

Edited Photo

Text and Titles

You can add a text box with a title to overlay a photo, but not place it as a caption below it. You can change the text color and font, and resize the text box and drag and drop it anywhere between the top and bottom of the photo.

Tilt-Shift

“Tilt-Shift gives your images the shallow depth-of-field you love. Unleash your creative inspiration by mixing clear focus and selective blurring.”

Visualizing the depth-of-field is relatively easy when shooting a photo with a digital or film single lens reflex camera, but less so when you are using either a point-and-shoot camera or a smartphone.

The Fotor app lets you adjust the depth-of-field for a photo that has already been taken by selecting an “F-stop” between F/2.8 and F/16. (The lower the number, the shallower the depth-of-field.) You can also use a “0” to “100 ” slider to set the depth-of-field.

Tapping on the bulls-eye icon lets you leave a circular section of the photo in focus and blur everything else in the shot. Tapping on the icon with the little lines on it put a narrow horizontal swath across photo in focus.

Here’s the original photo of canoeists on Maligne Lake near Jasper in the Canadian Rocky Mountains that I took with my Canon Elph “point-and-shoot” camera.

Canoe

Using the “Tilt-Shift” function, I adjusted the depth-of-field to blur the background.

Canoe Background

“Real-Time, High-Quality Processing”

“All of the fine adjustment controls in Fotor are smoothly applied in real time. This update makes them even 2x faster with a smarter algorithm!”

Changes made by the Fotor app were indeed applied very quickly. And before finalizing your editing, you can switch back and forth between your original photo and the proposed alterations to it.

Enhanced Camera

Although Fotor’s strength is is photo editing, you can also click on the “Camera” icon to take photos.

Fotor 1

“Big Button, Burst, Square, Timer, and Stabilizer features will help you capture the sharpest photos. Our advanced digital processing let’s you zoom in 3x with amazing clarity.”

Click on the gear symbol to access those shooting options.

“Big Button” gives you a slider that you can use to zoom in on your subject.

Pick “Burst,” hold down the center button at the bottom of the app’s screen, and Fotor will continue to rapid shoot a succession of photos. If you are photographing action scenes where people, cars, or animals are moving about rapidly, “Burst” will help you capture the perfect moment.

“Time” counts down five, fifteen or thirty seconds before the iPhone’s camera takes the photo. Use this for self-timed “selfies.”

“Square” produces a square rather than rectangular photo.

“Stabilizer” will help you get a sharper image by attempting to minimize blurring that can occur if you don’t held your iPhone steady while shooting a photo.

There’s just one problem with these settings: You can only choose a single one at a time, so you can’t use “Square,” “Timer,” and “Stabilizer” together to take your “selfie” portrait.

Sharing

“Share your pics to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Flickr, WeChat, Messages, Email and Postcards with just one touch.”

I had no trouble sharing my Fotor-modified photos on my Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr accounts, or via e-mail. However, unlike Instagram, you can’t use Fotor to simultaneously share a photo on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Tumblr.

Fotor can use your photo to create and mail a 4’ x 6’ printed postcard. You’ll need an account on Sincerely.com (which also allows you to send Postagrams using the Postagram app). I have such an account, which I apparently set up to try out Postagram for free, but I didn’t feel like forking over $9.90 to be able to send either five “Ink Cards” or ten “Postagrams,” so I didn’t try out Fotor’s postcard feature.

Saving Your Fotor Photos

When you use Fotor to edit a photo the app will by default save a the edited version to your iPhone’s Camera Roll as well as the the “Photo Box” within the app itself, leaving your original photo untouched in the Camera Roll.

After opening the Photo Box, you can select a photo, edit it, share it again, “Export” it to your phone’s Camera Roll, or delete it.

Overall Setting Options

Click on the “gear” icon at the top of the Fotor Homescreen to set overall settings for the app.

By default, all photos altered by Fotor are saved to the Photo Box and Camera Roll without replacing the original photo. But if don’t want to save the original copy, just the newer version, you can change those settings.

“Sharing Quality” is set to “Medium” by default, but can be changed to “High” or “Normal.”

“Processing Quality” can also be set to “High” or “Normal”, although “Medium” is the default. Basically, these options increase or decrease the file size of the processed photo and the time it takes to save it.

You can set either the app’s Homepage (default setting) or the Camera when the app is launched.

In-App Purchases

While the Fotor app is free, there are some filters/functions, such as “Groovy” and “Toned B+B” that you’ll have to buy from within the app for $0.99 to $2.99.

Fotor App on the iPad

The Fotor iOS app works on the iPad as well as the iPhone, although I probably wouldn’t use the app’s “Camera” function to shoot photos with the larger Apple device.

The only thing I did not like about using Fotor on my iPad was that the app doesn’t rotate from portrait (vertical) to landscape (horizontal) position. Since I use my iPad mounted in a Bluetooth keyboard case, I either have to remove my iPad from the case or put it in the more precarious vertical position in the key board case when using the Fotor app.

Fotor on the Mac Computer

I was all set to test Fotor on my iMac desktop, but when I went to download it from the Mac App Store I discovered that there was a bug that was causing the app to crash. The app’s developer said that a new version that resolves that problem was been submitted to Apple, but wasn’t yet available for download.

image

So I’ll have to wait a bit to find out if he Mac version of Fotor works as well as the iOS app, and whether photos edited on the mobile platform can be viewed/re-edited/shared on the Mac platform, and vice versa.

Does Fotor Pan Out?

The Fotor Photo Editing app has editing features found in other, similar iOS apps, and is very easy to use.

I thought that the app’s “Collage” “Tilt-Shift” functions were its big pluses.

Although I might tend to use other iOS photo editing apps, and prefer to move photos from my iPhone to my Mac desktop and then edit them using Adobe’s Photoshop Elements, having the Fotor app on my iPhone means I can quickly and easily edit and share photos taken with my phone, particularly if I want to post them to Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

Overall, Fotor is a decent app and, except for the in-app purchases of additional filters/functions, the price is right: Free.

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