Big Lens: DSLR effects on your iPhone?

Claim. There. That’s pretty bold claim isn’t it? But it still doesn’t come close to the new iPhone app Big Lens’ claim to turn your iPhone into a professtional SLR camera. There are some professional SLR cameras that can’t make that claim. So I had to give Big Lens a try.


Big Lens (and everytime I say that in my head it comes out at Big Len’s) comes from Reallusion, awarding developers of 3D and 2D cinematic tools, so they have a degree of street cred when it comes to manipulating images.

Even if you are unskilled in manipulating Depth-of-Field, you should be able to get on just fine with the Big Lens Smart Focus system, wherein you simply use your finger to focus images. If you’ve ever done masking in Photoshop then you’ll know that this can be fiddly, so the Big Lens interface is quite refreshing to use. You can use basic geometric shapes or a lasso tool to auto-focus your target, or you can choose advanced mode to manually define your focus area. The smart part of the Smart Focus system will then automatically refine your selection with a reasonable degree of precision – something that works impressively well for a mobile phone (as a side note I wonder how long I’ll keep saying that and when my expectations for the computing power of a smartphone will change).

You can adjust the aperture in Big Lens with a single gesture to instantly change the blur level of the out-of-focus area. Big Lens also offers nine unique lenses that allow out-of-focus light points to blur into shapes like hearts and stars which makes for some incredibly cheesy looking photos.

Riding the Hipstamatic and Instagram wave, Big Lens has more than 18 filters to enhance color, increase contrast, or add Lomo effects. If you’ve seen either of those apps before than the effects will be familiar to you – although the degree of control you get over the final image is much greater than what I’m used to seeing in such apps.

For the lazy, the instant focus and blur tools enable you to instantly modify the focus and blur area with your fingers. And for those lacking in confidence the Before & After Preview means can review your images at any time during your make-over process.
The sharing options are also pretty great. As you’d expect you can email and save to the camera roll, but you can also upload to Facebook, Picast and Dropbox straight from the app. No Twitter love for some reason.

The iPhone 4S packs a pretty incredible camera and apps like this that enable you to tweak images on the go is a great addition to any photo-enthusiasts toolkit. It’s not quite DSLR but you can great great images with it. Check it out here