Focus is a really fun app. It’s built around the idea of adding custom focus effects to your images, and it does a really good job with it. But more so, it’s just dang fun to experiment with! Let's go have some fun!
You’ve probably seen images with some sort of focus effect applied to them. Maybe you noticed it or maybe you didn’t. I see these a lot on various photo sites, and honestly never thought much about using these tricks in my photos, but after using Focus, I now find myself bringing a lot of images into this product just to see what I can come up with! The possibilities are endless and the stuff you can create is really tantalizing!
In this review, I will take you through the various settings and give a bunch of example screenshots, so you can get a feeling for the product. Like all Macphun products, it’s easy to use yet very powerful, so you will quickly be crafting your own unique interpretations in no time!
If you decide you are interested in this product, click here to download a free trial copy, and if you buy it, use the discount code JIMNIX to save 10% off your order!
When you first bring your image into Focus, you will see that there are several scene modes, which are listed across the top of the landing screen: Portrait, Nature, Architecture, Macro, Tilt-Shift and Custom. Each is suited to that particular subject, but it really comes down to what you are trying to achieve. You can use any image with any setting - it doesn’t matter. These are just suggestions based on what sort of focus effects are common with that subject.
Let’s dig in and see these settings, Jim!
Ok, we will just go through each of these in turn, which makes the most sense for this review, methinks. While I can’t possibly cover everything you can do with Focus, hopefully this gives you enough information to figure out how this can help you in crafting your images. It’s definitely a lot of fun and I highly recommend spending some time in here just messing around with the various options. You never know what you might come up with!
Ok, I will be the first to admit that I really never shoot portraits. I’m not that kind of photographer. When people ask me what I shoot, I generally say “anything that cannot talk back”. I don’t mean that as a smart-ass remark, it’s just the truth. But the thing with Focus is that it doesn’t really matter. I’ll show you a landscape photo here, even though it’s the Portrait setting. It still works great!
Here’s the landing screen for the Portrait mode. Note the menus on the right hand side. This is where you make all of your adjustments, and they are categorized by the type of adjustment you can make: Blur, Motion, and In Focus. Just grab a slider and slide!
Note that these three adjustments (Blur, Motion, In Focus) are consistent across all the major scene modes. This gives you a consistent look and feel, not to mention user experience, across all modes. In my opinion, this makes learning to use the tool very easy! The only scene mode that slightly differs is Custom, and that’s because it allows you to do some masking for very detailed, custom work.
Also note the concentric circles on the image, which are sort of like a bullseye on a target. These allow you to alter the size of the focus/non-focus areas. Just mouse over somewhere on the circle line, and you will see a little bi-directional arrow. Grab the line and move it - easy!
Lastly, note the tiny green dots at various points on the circles. These allow you to change the shape of the focus/non-focus areas. The one in the very center allows you to move the center around. It’s all very straight-forward and easy to use.
Once you have your focus area all set, it’s just a matter of experimenting with the sliders on the right-hand menu. As you can see in the screenshot below, I made a bunch of adjustments just to show you how big of an impact it can have on your photo. The Blur and Motion sliders impact the area outside the outer circle mostly, and they are gradual between the outer circle and the inner circle. The inner circle is the In Focus area, which has it’s own controls in the right-hand menu and are not affected by the Blur and Motion sliders.
When you are satisfied, just click on the Share button in the upper right and save the image. Note I am using this as a standalone product, but it also works as a plugin to major host programs such as Lightroom and Photoshop.
At the bottom of the screen, you can also click on Compare to see the original and Reset to start over, should you decide you want to take a different direction with your photo.
As you can see here, this setting is typically set up for a landscape shot, because the orientation of the adjustment bars runs across the image, horizontally. And once again, you have the adjustment sliders on the right, and they are the same as on the Portrait setting (and in fact are consistent across all scene modes).
As in the Portrait setting, you can move the outer and inner lines to expand or contract the zone of impact for the changes you intend to make, and you can also tilt it. The difference between this setting and the Portrait setting is that the edges cannot be pulled in - they just run off the screen on both sides. This wouldn’t normally matter for a landscape, hence it’s designed this way. But should you want to change that, try using Portrait or Custom (which we will get to in a bit).
This setting is very much like Nature, except that it’s vertical instead of horizontal. Technically, you could just rotate the adjustment bars in Nature, and it would be identical to Architecture (and vice versa). But this gives you a starting point of horizontal focus, which is great for most architectural shots.
Like previous modes, you can move the lines by clicking and dragging them to adjust your plane of focus, and then just move your sliders to make it match your vision for the photo.
Macro is basically identical to Portrait, just as Nature and Architecture are twins. While the use of the tools here is the same as Portrait, you will notice that the default settings are set up better for a macro shot (greater Blur amount outside the outer circle, and Sharpening applied to the In Focus area).
In fact, each mode has some slider adjustments made to it by default, though again these are suggestions and I recommend making some fine-tuned adjustments on your own. Experimentation is the key, once again, because every image is different, and you may be inspired differently each time you bring an image into Focus.
I like tilt-shift effects, though I understand if everyone doesn’t. Generally, a tilt-shift effect is the use of selective focus to make a scene look miniature. This technique is often employed on city shots, taken from a high-angle and looking down on something. There are specific lenses you can buy to create these effects, but now of course you can also accomplish it much more cheaply in software. ;-)
Once again, the lines can be moved to narrow or expand your plane of focus, and of course you can tilt the lines to apply the effect at something other than a straight line across your image.
Here I have taken a shot from Norway and narrowed it down to really miniaturize the folks standing on the rock down below.
As you can guess from the name, Custom is where you can do basically anything you can’t do in the other scene modes, and your area of focus isn't controlled by moving shapes and lines - it's controlled by masking. When you start in Custom, you just get a blurry image, but that will get fixed in a moment.
No, nothing is wrong - you have to mask over the stuff you want to “exclude” from the blur. Just make sure that “Paint” is selected (upper right corner of your screen) and then paint over what you want to be in focus. This will create a mask over it and then you can adjust the image according to your taste. Also note the Erase brush in case you need to correct your mask. (Note this was a quick masking job used for demonstration, and thus is a little off.)
Here is that image after applying the mask and making a few adjustments to the sliders:
Here is another example of using a custom setting to create a really interesting effect. This was an iPhone shot of a Jeep - nothing really interesting, but I liked the old Jeep. So I took this into Focus, masked the Jeep so that it would stay in focus, and then made a bunch of adjustments to the out of focus area. Most notable among my adjustments is the use of the Radial Motion sliders. I increased the amount significantly and also nearly maxed out the Twist slider to give it a really interesting result. That's pretty cool, right?
That’s one of the great things about Focus - you can literally come up with all sorts of creations and interesting ideas, and then easily implement them in just a few moments. It’s an easy product to use and quite fun, too!
Cropping and Straightening in Focus
Lastly, you also have the ability to crop and straighten an image in Focus. Just select the word Crop in the upper right hand corner, and it will take you to a screen like this one:
I think this screen is pretty self-explanatory. Just drag the sliders to make your adjustments, and when satisfied just hit Apply.
Also see the other box labelled Original Proportions. If you click on that, you will get a menu which gives you options for common crop sizes. Just select the one of your choice, move the image around if necessary, and that’s it. Then you hit apply and you are all set.
Well that’s it my friends - a review of Focus by Macphun. It’s quite easy to use and yet very capable. You can apply all sorts of creative focus effects to your images and quickly save and share them, right from Focus. As I mentioned above, it also works well as a plug-in so if you host your images in some other product - no worries, just use Focus as a plug-in and it works great like that, too.
If you are interested in the product, you can read more on the Macphun website, on their page dedicated to Focus. Just click that highlighted text to do so.
On their website you can download a free trial if you want to experiment with Focus, and I highly recommend doing so. It’s a great way to get a test run before you buy it.
If you decide to buy it, use the coupon code JIMNIX and save 10% on your order!
Thanks for stopping by and let me know if you have any questions!