A shallow depth of field (aka depth of focus) is all about having a small amount of an image in focus with anything ahead of or behind the subject blurred. This draws attention to a specific subject and provides some beautiful out of focus effects in other areas known as bokeh.

On an iPhone this effect can normally only be achieved in post processing via iPhoneography apps. It is simulating a wide open aperture on a DSLR and achieving a blurred background with apps intelligent enough to pick out light spots and magnify them into beautiful circles (or other shapes) of bokeh 1 light.

It is a useful ability to have in an app because the iPhone camera can only achieve similar results on very close almost macro style subjects. This is due to the iPhone camera’s combination of a small sensor, small aperture and short focal length. This combination results in most normal scenes being well focused irrespective of distance from the iPhone.

Freelensing - analog example 1

{ analog freelensing example }


App pricing

This week Tadaa SLR changed its price for what I calculate to be the 25th time since it’s launch at £2.49 on 23rd October 2013. In that time it has been updated 7 times, the last time about a month ago. This week it was reduced from £2.99 to £1.99.

Hoorah you may cry but in the 11 months that the app has been available on the app store it has gone free 10 times. So if anyone were to ask me for my advice, based on Tadaa’s previous marketing strategy it’s simple – don’t pay, wait and see if the cycle repeats itself.

A price reduction doesn’t make an app a bargain.

This article is about app pricing and marketing using a selection of depth of field iPhoneography apps as a sample. I link to articles looking at depth of field 2 and related freelensing 3 techniques later in the article.

Given its free periods you would expect Tadaa to do quite well on the iPhone app store photography app rating. Its highest position to date is 15th during a free period and I am unable to find any current ranking data.


Depth of Field in iPhoneography – the alternatives

iphone photography - school run

{ school run – click image to go to workflow }


With its history in mind I decided that instead of spreading the good news of the price reduction of Tadaa SLR to my friends, I’d like to give a shout out to a couple of alternative iPhone apps for depth of focus. Apps that rarely change their price or employ these marketing tactics.

I must emphasise at this point though that I am not suggesting that Tadaa SLR is a bad app. Far from it, it provides precisely the functionality it describes.

The reason I’ve decided to highight alternative apps is simply because they don’t tend to generate the kind of attention that Tadaa SLR does with its constant price swings and possibly ultimately achieve sales at what I believe are inflated prices. Clearly, if you are a huge fan of Tadaa SLR then you will probably be perfectly happy whether you got it during a free period or paid a higher price.

Every app developer is entitled to employ whatever pricing and marketing tactics they wish but we as consumers are equally entitled to keep a watchful eye on matters and maybe highlight that those who shout loudest aren’t necessarily the cheapest (or the best in my opinion).



depth of field apps in iPhoneography - pricing

{ depth of field apps in iPhoneography – pricing }


It feels a little like this chart speaks for itself. The longstanding established apps are priced at a fair and stable price (in my opinion). Other apps on occasion generate waves, noise and scream for attention by making seemingly random price movements on a very regular basis.

Via Skipology, I try my best to monitor what apps are doing and rather than immediately shout ‘bargain’ or ‘must get’ take a more balanced view of what alternatives there are and whether apps are worth a ‘punt’ (we all have our own styles and opinions).

I informally filter iPhoneography app price information and try my best to only share what I feel is correct and useful.

I doubt these three apps are an exhaustive list but together with Tadaa SLR (of course I have it, it’s been free enough times) these two apps are worth investigating. You only really need one app in this area though.



For achieving shallow depth of field this is my own preferred iPhone app. It was launched on 19th March 2012 at 69p and has remained at that price to the time of writing.

iPhoneography - freelensing

{ Freelensing – iPhoneography effect – click image to go to workflow }


AfterFocus my preferred depth of field iPhoneography app.

No free period and no price increases or decreases.

In that period it has been updated 9 times, the latest update being around 8 months ago. It has had no free price change publicity or shoutouts and yet within the photography section of the iPhone app store has achieved a highest position of 21st and is currently 90th.


Big Lens

This is another app I have in my collection (it had a short free period).

Midnight on Lincoln High Street

{ Midnight on Lincoln High Street – click image to go to workflow }

Out of focus lights at night often create the most spectacular subjects for bokeh. (This image processed with AfterFocus not Big Lens).

Big Lens was launched on 19th October 2011 at 69p and with the exception of a few days in February 2013 when it went free has remained at that price to the time of writing.

During that free period the publicity raised it to 4th, its highest position within the photography section of the iPhone app store. It is currently 116th.

It has been updated 14 times, the latest update being around 11 months ago.


Bokeh SOOC (Straight out of camera)

It is possible to achieve shallow depth of field and bokeh effects straight out of the iPhone Camera. This may be a planned totally abstract image, a happy accident or the result of focusing on an extremely close image:

bus station - bokeh

{ Lincoln Bus Station }


Get one of the iPhoneography apps mentioned in this article

Apps mentioned in this article:

  • AfterFocus my preferred iPhone photography app for replicating depth of focus / depth of field in iPhoneography post processing

  • Big lens

  • Tadaa SLR


I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on depth of field apps and some of the pricing strategied adopted by iPhoneography apps. I don’t claim that this is an exhaustive list of capable depth of field apps so please do let me know if you feel any others are worthy of mention. Please follow my Facebook Page to keep up to date not only on my articles but also on my image a day and deals and updates on the apps I use, including these..



  1. ‘In photography, bokeh is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens. Bokeh has been defined as “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light.”…’
    Bokeh‏‘ by Wikipedia
  2. ‘In optics, particularly as it relates to film and photography, depth of field (DOF) is the distance between the nearest and farthest objects in a scene that appear acceptably sharp in an image…’
    Depth of field‏‘ by Wikipedia
  3. ‘Freelensing is a relatively inexpensive way of getting the similarly unique effect of an expensive tilt-shift lens, where the focus plane is thrown out of whack with the added bonus of natural light leaks…’ (Skip’s comment – adding to this article I would suggest using an analog camera to avoid getting mess on the sensor and there is no need to break a lens apart to achieve the effect).
    A Photographer’s Guide to Freelensing, The Poor Man’s Tilt-Shift Lens‏‘ by PetaPixel

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