App Review: PhotoForge by GhostBird Software

by Rob   on July 22, 2009
Filed under Daily App Reviews, Photography, Utility

One of my more favorite genres of iPhone apps are those that fall under the photography category.  So, it shouldn’t be any surprise that I decided to checkout PhotoForge by GhostBird Sofware.  PhotoForge promises to be the Photoshop app for the iPhone by providing a robust and advanced set of editing functions and filters that you can apply to your images.

I recently installed the latest version of PhotoForge (1.6), and found that the primary complaint, not supporting the 3GS photo resolution, had been resolved. This problem would have been an immediate show stopper for me, but with the upgrade it’s no longer an issue.

PhotoForge is a very complete mobile imaging editor for your iPhone. The interface is incredibly easy to use and very intuitive.  It gives you easy access to all of the tools that the app offers. There are no cumbersome menus or tricks to get to the tools or filters you want to use. One of the features that I found helpful is that when you are editing the actual picture, the menu and tools slide away, giving you the maximum screen area.  As soon as you are done, though, they slide right back. Here’s a list of features:

• Curves: Create your own filters. Edit in RGB, CMYK and CIELab color spaces.
• Sharpen & Unsharp Mask: Sharpen images to remove the softness introduced during digital photo capture.
• Noise Reduction: Digitally reduces color noise present in the photo. (Apply multiple times for more reduction)
• Simulated HDR: Produce images with greater detail by manipulating the visible range of an image’s highlights and shadows.
• Auto White Balance
• Auto Exposure
• Manual Exposure
• Manual Vibrance
• Hue, Saturation & Lightness
• Brightness & Contrast

• Crop tool: Crop, rotate, and flip.
• Brush tool: Experiment with 8 different brush strokes. Choose from unlimited sizes, colors, and transparency options.
• Smudge tool: Smears the pixels along the direction of the brush stroke.
• Clone Stamp tool: Sample pixels at one location in an image, and paint them in a different location.
• Eraser tool: Erase away portions of brush strokes, filters or effects applied to the image. For example, this tool will allow you to colorize black and white filtered images, among countless other uses.
• Magnify tool: Zoom in, out, and pan.
• Eye Dropper tool: Selects the color of individual pixels in an image.
• Fill tool: Fill the visible area of the image with color.

• Black & White, Dreamy, Enhanced, Lomo, Sepia, Water Color, Oil Painting, Night Vision, Heat Map, Pencil, Neon, Blur, Emboss, Sunset, Blue Sky and Television.

I have only one complaint with PhotoForge: While editing a photo, you are actually editing a low-resolution preview of the original. So if you zoom in to get a more detailed edit, the preview quickly becomes pixelated. You can still make the edit, and when the photo is saved it is saved at the higher resolution.  However, while you are editing it, you are stuck with a low-resolution copy. For the majority of your edits this wont be a big deal. However, if you’re doing really fine detailed work (want to see the results of unsharp mask, for example) then you would have to save your work and open the saved file in photo viewer to really see the results.

img 10001 100x150 App Review: PhotoForge by GhostBird Software

I found PhotoForge to be an easy and intuitive app for editing photos on your device. I loved the interface and the vast array of tools and filters that are available to use. I did not like the low-resolution image that you actually edit. However, if you’re looking for a complete, all-in-one photo editor for your iPhone that would offer some advanced filters then PhotoForge may be for you.


  • As soon as you install the app, go to Settings->PhotoForge and change the default resolution from 1024 to “Max”. This will allow you to save your pictures in the full resolution, otherwise they will be saved at the default lower resolution when you’re finished editing them.
  • It may be a little confusing at first, but edits are applied immediately to the preview. There is no “apply” button to touch.
  • To see the full version preview you will need to save the picture and then open it in the camera roll app.


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