With a name like Perfect B&W my hopes were high for this app. I was also excited to check this app out because it is OnOne Software‘s first app for the iPhone and iPad. They’re known for making some great Photoshop plugins.
The app itself has a simple user interface. There’s an option to adjust the flash setting, a button to switch to the front facing camera, access to the camera roll, the shutter release, and an S for single photo. If you tap the S, it will switch to C for continuous. This just means you won’t be prompted to make edits to a photo immediately after pressing the shutter. Just above the shutter button, there is a bump/tab. Tapping it will reveal filters/presets that you can apply to the live view. Tap the tab again to hide them.
There is also a button for more options (pictured below.) I like the ability to save a color copy. It’s nice to be able to have that as a backup in case you decide you don’t like the black and white version.
After taking your photo, you can apply a filter, or tap on the settings button for adjustment options. There are a lot of sliders you can use to adjust your image. Brightness is deeper than you’d expect. If you touch the icon to the left of the slider, you have 5 options for adjusting shadows, highlights, blues, greens, and a color I’m guessing is orange. Along with brightness, you can adjust contrast, detail (be very careful with this one!) filter, grain, soft focus (there are 3 types to choose from) toner, vignette, and border. After making your adjustments, you can save your settings as a preset by tapping the button in the top right. If you’re finished, tap the check in the top left.
Let me explain and show you why I say you need to be very careful with the detail slider. In Perfect B&W, you are making adjustments to a smaller resolution preview of your final image. Other apps employ this technique as well to provide the user with faster processing speed. This app makes fast adjustments, but they’re not accurate, in my opinion. If you slide the detail slider to the right, it looks as though it is only slightly increasing detail. Once you go to save your photo, the app makes the adjustments to a higher resolution version, which is already sharper than what you’ve been looking at. Suddenly, you’re applying detail to an image that is sharper than the preview image you were editing, and you get a crunchy mess (see below.)
The image above looks fine to me. No edit was made to it at all. Below is the b&w version that I sharpened with Perfect B&W. Again, it did not look nearly this sharp in the preview when I was working on it. Clicking on the two to see them larger helps to see the difference.
To be fair, this app does say it is optimized for iPhone5, so this issue may only affect older models. The live preview can have a significant lag if you shoot with a filter applied (I’m using an iphone4.) You can work around this by shooting without any filters. After you take the photo you can tap on different filters and see how they all look.
Examples of photos created with Perfect B&W
I made these after I realized I had to be careful making edits. I tried some of the presets to see if they produced better results.
I honestly found it hard to like this app after discovering the edits you make aren’t what you’ll get in the final saved copy. The filter presets seem to over process the images for my taste as well. At the time of this review, I can’t recommend this app. There are better black and white camera apps, such as Hueless. I did exchange many emails with the director of product marketing expressing my concerns with the app. She passed them on to the tech team and they’re aware of the things I experienced. I offered some ideas to help work around the preview image dilemma. I hope they continue to develop this app into something that lives up to the name. I was very pleased with their customer service. I’ve been told that full resolution saves are in store for the future. As of now, the maximum is 2048 pixels per side.
Rating: 3/5 There is room for improvement still. I trust they’ll do better with their updates.
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), iPod touch (5th generation) and iPad. Requires iOS 6.0 or later. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.
***Full disclosure, I did not pay for this app, I asked for a promo code so I could review it. I’m not being offered any compensation for this review. ***