TiltShift review - Turn your landscape photos into a toy village

The line of focus keeps that area sharp while the blur element dictates how out of focus the rest of the image looks.

By toy village this is, of course, referring to the miniature village effect you get when using a wide aperture and a tilt-shift lens. It produces a line of focus through the image with the rest in the foreground and background going out of focus. When used on a photo taken from an elevated position it makes the scene look like that of a toy village. Well, if it has any buildings in it, it does. Using it on other types of image is something of an acquired taste but it does have potential. This then is TiltShift, an app designed to emulate the effects of the tilt-shift lens and throw in some colour adjustment and vignetting as well.

The app can run as a window or full screen, and supports a wide range of file formats including RAW ones. 

Move the control handles together to form a spot of focus which can be used more effectively with portrait images.

Once an image is loaded, the screen shows the line of focus with handles on either end. Around this is the area of sharp focus and from the boundary of this to the outer boundary is a graduated focus area. Everything outside the furthest boundary is blurred by the amount set in the parameter section on the left. The trick is to line up the focus area on a part of the photo that will enable it to be isolated from the rest and thus stand out. The handles on either end of the focus line can be moved and thus change the angle – it can be vertical if you want – whereas grabbing the line itself retains the current orientation and simply moves it up or down. After each movement the screen is refreshed and this is a little on the slow side considering that very little is actually being done.

The parameters are what is used to make the effect more compelling, starting with the Blur component. Then there’s colour adjustment for more saturation, contrast and brightness. The focus area can also be sharpened. Well, actually the entire image is sharpened, it’s just that if the rest of it is being blurred then the sharpening there is lost. The whole idea is to soften and blur the rest of the image, leaving the horizontal plane of focus sharp. The fact that you can move the angles around or even shorten the line so that the edges of the photo can be blurred extends what is possible. The ends of the focus line can also be moved together which creates a circular spot of focus in an area of blur. This really isn’t that useful for landscapes, but it does serve as a crude depth-of-field effect for portraits.

The only other option is to add some vignetting to darken the corners and focus the view even more. Some toggles at the bottom go to 100% zoom and between the amended image and the original one. There’s also a preset list, but given that it starts off empty and there are few options anyway, it’s of limited use.

OUR VERDICT

Decent enough at what it does, unfortunately this isn’t actually enough. The ability to use spot focus is interesting and gives a little more, but the app is far too expensive for what limited functionality it has. It really needs a raft of retro-effects to give it more value.

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