Black And White Camera App Makes Lovely Photos Hard Work [Review]


The end results are lovely, but the UI needs phixing
The end results are lovely, but the UI needs phixing

MonoPhix is a two-dollar black-and-white photography app for iPhone, with a separate companion MonoPhix HD version for iPad. Although it produces good results, MonoPhix suffers from some odd design choices that make it a disappointing and frustrating experience.

Everything in MonoPhix is presented on a dark wood effect backdrop. Generally I’m not in favor of skeuomorphism in software, but at least in Apple’s Notes app, you can see that the software is trying to look like an actual notebook. MonoPhix’s wooden look leaves me baffled. What is it trying to resemble? A desk, perhaps? I can’t think of any photography kit that’s made out of wood, or any reason why the app looks the way it does.

And the wood effect does more than decorate. I’d say it makes the app harder to use. When editing black and white images, you want to be able to see your image with some clarity. The wood effects give the whole app, control buttons and all, a murky, shadowed feel that does nothing to help the images shine. I found myself peering close at the screen to make out details. It shouldn’t be this much hard work.

When editing a landscape-oriented photo, you’ll find half of it hidden underneath the controls. Make sure you go into the prefs section and adjust the transparency of this controls panel, it will make your life much easier when you can see the image you’re editing more clearly. Generally speaking, the controls are small and closely-packed. It’s very easy to tap the wrong one by mistake, and there’s no undo. It’s all about editing the monotones (including color-filtered ones), so there are no cropping or framing controls. That’s not a complaint, though, just an observation.

You can achieve some very nice tones and textures

Despite all that moaning, I like what MonoPhix does. buried under the crowded interface is a really nice little black and white photo camera and editor. It is capable of producing beautiful, contrasty, grain-speckled images. Using it is more painful than it should be, though. Use it as a camera, and it comes with two film presets (Fine Grain and Fast Film), each of which produces nice, varied results.

It’s worth noting that some of the annoyances can be changed in the settings. You can get rid of the bright blue pushpins that hold your photos to the wooden background. This is also where you’ll find the control overlay transparency prefs I mentioned above.

I really like the photos I’ve got out of MonoPhix, but the app itself needs a bit of love. It could do with a less showy, brighter, cleaner UI. The buttons and controls would work better with more space to breathe. Some bugs need fixing, and landscape mode for editing functions might be nice.

Source: App Store