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Hands-on with FX Photo Studio Pro for Mac: Photo filter galore for the desktop

Let’s face it: Instagram and photo filter apps make editing pictures easier. I admit sometimes I even use an Instagram filter to brighten low light pictures. So what if you can do the same with photos you take with traditional cameras, give or take 170 different filters? That’s exactly what the software FX Photo Studio Pro aims to do. Somewhat supporting the ‘latergram’ initiative (in which a photo is taken by a DSLR then gets the Instagram treatment, essentially cheating the mobile phone quality), FX Photo Studio Pro is an app for those who can’t be without color filters but want none of the complicated Adobe Photoshop tools.

How it works

Created by MacPhun, FX Photo Studio Pro for Mac is available directly off its official website or the App Store. Once you’ve downloaded, installed, and fired up the software, select any photo you wish to edit, or drag and drop it onto the allocated space. Note that you cannot edit more than one picture at a time, though you can import a full folder to refer to if you are editing a photo set in one sitting.

The basic functions here are pretty simple: Crop, Resize, Rotate are all there, in addition to Adjust. This is a neat feature similar to what you might find in iPhoto, but it allows you to take things a step further in the Masking tool. What Masking does is essentially allow you to edit just a portion of the picture based on the area you draw over. This color selection method is one example (below), where I brushed just one subject of the photo to make it black and white while the rest of the picture remained vivid. The Adjust function is obviously useful for those who need to tweak the lighting, contrast, or hue of your photos without having to find the tools embedded deeply in Photoshop.

FX Photo Studio Pro masking tool

Filter on filter on filter

If you think 170 filters is a massive amount in selection, wait until you have to scroll sideway to get through all of them. While many of them are of an Instagram-esque caliber, most are basic filters that just recolors the entire picture. For example, the Lense filter will convert your picture’s colors into a new shade entirely, but there are separate filters for “Turquoise Lense” and “Violet Lense.” This might be helpful for those who choose by looking over the preview button, but is a bit annoying to scroll through when there should just be one filter called “Lense” and your option to pick the recolor shade.

FX Photo Studio Pro filter effect compare

Once you have chosen your filter, you can also adjust the intensity. This is a neat feature that’s not found in your average mobile app, and is great for subtle edits that won’t make your pictures overdone. You can also add frames to the picture, but a lot of these are a bit cheesy (think fake wood) and better left untouched.

One gripe I have with the app is the filter overlay doesn’t always take into consideration the subjects of the photo. With Instagram, the app recognizes contrasts and layers, but FX Photo Studio Pro will just plainly slap a filter on top. See the picture below for illustration. Instagram would have realized the subject in the middle is too dark and apply the colors around the subject to make the photo more vivid. This app just made the picture darker in general, with tints of recoloring.

FX Photo Studio for Mac filter effects

FX Photo Studio Pro for Mac ShareIf you are unhappy with any of the 170 options, you can also mix and match your own, and save it for future use. After you’re done with the photo, you can save in JPEG, JPEG-2000, OpenEXR, PNG, or TIFF formats. The JPG format will obviously save you a bit more space; my original picture started out at 3.8 MB and saved at 2 MB. When I selected to save the picture at the highest quality possible, however, the file size bumped to a whopping 9 MB.

The app also has a built-in Share feature that allows you to upload photos directly to various social media sites. You can also change the resolution before the upload to not overwhelm the recipient with the file size, especially if sending via e-mail.

Bottom Line

FX Photo Studio Pro for Mac preset

The FX Photo Studio Pro app is extremely user friendly and simple to use — even your grandma could learn to Instagram on her desktop. While it works seamlessly, the app did crash on me a few times when I closed a photo and didn’t save it. Not a big deal, obviously, since I didn’t need the progress saved, but this could be frustrating for those who accidentally close a picture before saving.

At $40, FX Photo Studio Pro for Mac can be slightly expensive for what it does. Competitively, CameraBag2 can add filters to your digital photos as well, and it costs half as much. The filters available on FX Photo Studio Pro are more extensive, but since many are not exactly “trendy,” you might still be better off saving a bit of cash. That’s not to say FX Photo Studio isn’t an fun app to use for quick edits, so if all you’re worried about is money, you can always opt for the limited FX Photo Studio version that costs just $10. Both versions are available for download now via the App Store.

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