App Review: Photogene Photo Enhancer for iPhone

(Photogene Forum Review by cjvitek For more Forum Reviews, see the TiPb iPhone App Store Forum Review Index!)

Photogene is an iPhone "touch up" utlity that can be used to touch up or enhance photos you take with your iPhone.

First, what Photogene isn't. It isn't simply a series of filters that you can apply to photos. There are lots of apps out there that can apply a huge range of filters (oil painting, cartoon, black and white, sepia, posterize, etc). I have reviewed a couple of them. This app does have a few filters, but it is more about touching up photos (fine-tuning them, if you will) rather than simply applying a filter to make it "art".

When you start the app, you can choose to take a new photo, edit an existing phot, or continue a previous session. This last option is particularly nice, it means the app "remembers" where you were and what you were doing. If you get interrupted, you don't need to start over. One cool little thing is when you start the app, a "tip of the week" appears about taking photos with the iPhone. Normally I don't like tips that appear like this, but I like it here because the tip is specific to using the iPhone camera (not just a general photography tip).

I was using a general photo of some mosquito cages when testing this app. The touch up features include a crop option, rotate option, three filters, color adjust, symbols, and frames. When you finish with your editing, you can save the photo or start over (take a new photo or edit a new photo). There is an undo button to undo the last edit, but there isn't a complete "reset" button to undo all adjustments. I would like to see that in a future release. So let's talk about the touch up features.

With the crop feature, you can choose to crop it with a specific ratio (3:4, 9:16, etc). The area that will be cropped appears highlighted on the picture, and you can resize it or move it around. One nice thing is that as your resizing the crop, you can see the pixel size that the new image will be - very useful. You can't do a free-form crop however.

The rotate allows you to rotate the picture by 90% or flip the picture on an axis. If your image is at an angle, you can also do some slight angle adjustments to make it level.

The app comes with three filters - sharpen, pencil, and effect (which includes sepia, night vision, or infrared (heat vision). With sharpen and pencil, you can adjust the level of effect as well. Pencil is sort of cool, making your picture look like a pencil drawing. But as I said, this app isn't about having 30 filters - it is mostly about touching up photos to make them as nice as possible.

Next we move onto color adjustment. Here, you can see the color histogram and either adjust it manually or automatically for the best color image. You can also adjust the exposure, contrast, saturation, color temperature, as the actual RGB levels. These are, in my opinion, the best features of this app because this is the area that really helps you touch up a picture to optimal quality.

You can add symbols like stars, word ballons (with text), arrows - about 13 symbols in all. These aren't anything really that help the picture, but they can make a picture a little more entertaining.

Lastly, you can add a frame - ranging from a "blurred" frame that doesn't have a distinct edge to more tradition picture frames to a stamp border or photo album "taped on the corners" frame. There are about 15 frames in all to choose from.

Working on a couple sample pictures, I was able to make some nice adjustments and really make some of the pictures shine. You are still working within the limitation of the iPhone camera, so pictures that are outdoors or in bright light are going to be the best, but you can really enhance some pictures that you might have throught were lost. The features like frames and symbols aren't really that necessary, and I would have preferred more filters instead of having those, but they can be fun to add to some pictures.


  • Touch up iPhone pictures to make them shine


  • Some features don't really add anything,
  • no ability to completely reset a picture

All in all, this is a good, all around photo touch up tool for the iPhone. Rather than just rely on applying filters, you can make some manual adjustments to thingsl ike saturation and exposure to try to bring out the best in your pictures. Some of the effects don't really add anything to the picture quality, but they might be fun to include in some pictures. There is no way to remove all the touchups at one, however - you have to reset each feature individually. But the color adjust can really make a picture shine. The app is $2.99, so the price is great if you use the iPhone camera a lot. Four and a half out of five stars.

TiPb Forum Review Rating

TiPb Forums Review: 4.5 Star App

[">Photogene is available for $2.99 via the iTunes App Store]


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Reader comments

App Review: Photogene Photo Enhancer for iPhone


I purchased this app because I really wants to fix a photo that was important to me. This really is like iPhoto on the iPhone. I like the levels adjustment and the colour temp tool. I've been very surprised with this app, and use it much more than I would have expected.

It seems to me that if the new iPhone is going to have video editing, why would it not have photo editing similar to this app? Maybe later this year?

I bought this app too, mostly as a point of interest since I have like two dozen different photo editing apps on various platforms.
Mostly a novelty App, good enough for when you want to do something without sending to my computer first.
Its cute, and occasionally useful, but its really just a toy (sort of like the iphone camera itself).
The Sepia, is sort of cool , especially on Turn Back the Clock night at the ballpark.

No "free-form crop"? What is this, like making weird jigsaw-shaped images? It can do any size and shape of rectangle. You aren't limited to the aspect ratio buttons. I've never wanted to crop a photo to any non-rectangle shape. I really don't see how this is a criticism of the app.
Of course this isn't a replacement for GIMP or Adobe Photoshop, but I've touched up lots of photos before emailing them out on my iPhone, and it's absolutely great for that. Straightening works great as does the histogram adjustment (which can auto fix or be done manually). I've even added thought balloons and text, and there's even ways to customize the colors on the text and objects (like talk bubbles). Even the outlines around the objects can be customized.
If you ever use your iPhone's camera and want to send out a picture before you go home to fix it in Picasa, this app is incredibly useful.

I would never copy an iPhone photo over to a computer to use Photoshop anyway because I'd use a real camera if I wanted a high-quality photo worth touching up in Photoshop on a computer.
That's why this app is so useful. It's perfect for quickly adjusting gritty iPhone photos so they can look their best — nothing more, nothing less.

I don't understand...Are you telling me the iPhone does not have it's own image editor? Even my junky cell phone lets me rotate and crop and, really, all the things that Photogene does. Is there no image editor packaged with the iPhone? How can it have a camera but NO editor? This makes no sense to me...