eXtensions - Thursday 29 March 2018


Focos - Update Adds Camera Access to Photo App for Adjusting Depth in Portrait Mode

By Graham K. Rogers


A recent update to Focos, the app which allows adjustment of depth to photos taking in Portrait mode, now provides a camera feature. This not only allows Portrait mode photos to be taken, but users can adjust depth while taking the shot. Editing allows additional changes to be made to depth and output styles.

When I found Focos late last year, I was impressed with the way in which users were able to adjust the depth of field in photographs taken using the Apple Camera Portrait mode. This uses both lenses in the iPhone Plus models and the iPhone X. Normally, the emphasis is on the subject: a face or a flower for example. With Focos the user is able to change that and bring out other elements of a photograph, using the image data that is recorded but not normally used.

Apple quite often introduces features, but they are left for third party developers to take advantage of. A good example is the introduction of RAW capabilities. The Apple Camera does not use this, but this feature is now producing some excellent work, with apps like Halide, DSLR Camera, ProCamera and more.

With the ability to duplicate photographs in Photos on iOS devices, more than one image, say background, middle distance and foreground can be produced from the same image using the editing features in Focos. Now, the app has been updated and it is possible to take a photograph from within Focos, and to adjust depth while setting up the shot.

Focos Focos Focos

Focos A new interface, which might benefit from some tidying up in a future release, now displays the camera screen when the app is opened. The yellow shutter button has two options: Edit mode and Continuous Shooting mode. Edit mode gives access to images taken using Depth Effect by the Apple Camera or (now) Focos. A strip of thumbnail images are already shown at the bottom. Tapping these brings up a full-screen panel from which an image can be selected for editing.

To the left of the Shutter button is a V-shaped icon, which gives access to a number of controls: resolution (1:1, 4:3, 3:2), Grid, Level, GPS (off by default) and self-timer (5s and 15s). To the left is a Settings icon that opens a panel with several significant options. One allowed me to change the app icon back from the new white version to the older yellow one (used here); but more important were saving options (JPEG, HEIC, or TIFF) and file size (1536 x 2049, 2160 x 2880 [default] or3024 x 4032). Among other options, users are given the opportunity to add in artist name and copyright information. Only a few apps I have permit that.

Focos Focos Focos Focos

Just below the camera screen are 5 icons: rear/front switch; flash (On/Off/Auto/Torch); Realtime blurring (on/off); Exposure Bias (manual/auto); and White Balance Bias (manual/auto). Realtime blurring provides an indicator onscreen of where focus is (and is not). Like the editing option, tapping on the screen will move the focus area. Both Exposure Bias and White Balance Bias provide horizontal scroll wheels to allow adjustment if the manual options are not selected.


I tried this out at lunchtime when I knew students would be eating on long tables. It was easy to adjust the focus while taking a photograph and then just as easy to do this when I edited any image. Images taken with the Focos camera feature are not saved automatically to the iPhone Photos Library. They need editing first. An image is saved in basic form with no depth control and as an image with depth control applied. Although they appear as Portrait images in the library, there are no lighting options (Natural, Studio, Contour or Stage Light) as with Portrait mode images taken with the iPhone Camera (Portrait mode).

Saved images with the largest resolution (3024 x 4032) in TIFF format were each just over 45MB (a couple reached 50MB). Once I had completed editing an image, saving took a relatively long time, probably caused by the settings I had and the resultant file size. Likewise, transferring to the Mac via iCloud Photos also took a while once I was connected to a reasonable wiFi network.


A while back I had made the in-app purchase which added a number of features, including virtual lens outputs (e.g Olympus Zuiko, Carl Zeiss Jena and more). In its basic state, this free app already had value for those users who were able to take photos in Portrait mode.

In its initial form, Focos was already an app that I would recommend. Adding the camera and photo-taking ability to Focos increases this considerably. While I was with my engineering students, having seen what I could do, two downloaded Focos to their iPhones. This app is highly recommended for those with suitable iPhones.

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. After 3 years writing a column in the Life supplement, he is now no longer associated with the Bangkok Post. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)



Made on Mac

For further information, e-mail to

Back to eXtensions
Back to Home Page

All content copyright © G. K. Rogers 2018