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Hands-on: Tadaa SLR gives your smartphone photos depth of field

Instead of changing the brush size, you use two fingers to pinch your photo larger or smaller. Your masking brush stays the same size.
There are a few different blur adjustments in Tadaa SLR. Some look more natural than others.

The consumer DSLR may be dying, but that doesn't mean you have to miss out on the gorgeous effects of a high quality lens system. Tadaa SLR, released last week for iOS, is an easy tool for mimicking the shallow depth of field that you can get from a good SLR lens.

Doubtful that an iOS app could give my iPhone photos a natural-looking shallow depth of field and matching bokeh, I decided to give Tadaa SLR a thorough hands-on.

To start, I uploaded a photo of my sister holding a sheer scarf to the sun at a recent music festival. The subject, though isolated in composition, still had some competing aspects in the frame distracting from her face.

The first step is choosing what part of your frame you want to keep in focus. This is done using Tadaa SLR's masking tool. A "Detect Edges" feature helps you keep lines neat as you trace your subject. I chose to keep her face, neck, and chest in focus while letting her arms blur out.

You can choose to either blur out all of your un-masked frame or give a more natural-looking circular or linear blur.
Tadaa SLR also provides basic editing tools like brightness, contrast, and saturation adjustments.

I chose a circular blur because I thought that it gave my composition the most natural-looking effect. A focal box similar to those found in many capture apps helps Tadaa SLR keep the most important part of your subject in focus.

Next, I adjusted the brightness, contrast and saturation of my image, giving my subject a little more light on her face. When you are finished with your photo, you have to upload it to Tadaa SLR's social media tool. From there, you can email a link to your friends or share the photo to Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr.

Like nearly every photo editing app, Tadaa SLR has a package of filters and lets you adjust the intensity of each.
Tadaa SLR's social media aspect lets you share your photo and "like" and comment on your friends' images.

In the right hands, Tadaa SLR has the potential to be a great editing app. Like the original Tadaa, its effects are best used sparingly and carefully. It's too easy in Tadaa SLR to create a jarringly unnatural-looking blurring effect with a strong filter on top.

Despite its powerful editing tools, Tadaa SLR is totally free, (likely because its social media aspect gives the developers hope of future monetization a-la Instagram's ad integration.) It's available on iPhone 4 or newer and you need iOS 6 or 7.

With a little precision and a lot of patience, Tadaa SLR does a decent job of replicating an SLR lens’ depth of field. No matter how hard you try, though, apps like Tadaa SLR will never be as good as a real SLR lens.

My "before" shot.
After applying the effects in Tadaa SLR.


Total comments: 12

This application certainly doesn't blurrs the lines


Great review but what 'tjwaggoner' was getting at is the "depth of field" is actually the area that is IN focus. What this app is attempting, is to simulate a shallow or much smaller numerical "depth of field". The reality is smart phones already have a huge depth of field. What you are attempting to simulate, is taking depth of field away not "giving smartphone photos depth of field".
I think everyone would agree you made your photo better and shifted emphasis from the background to your lovely subject.


Blur does not equal nice bokeh. And this just looks like a very unaturul blur. You shouldn't have focus blur on the plane of focus.

1 upvote

Hey, its better than nothing. The idea is pretty neat.


Camera phones already give great depth of field. It's the lack of depth of field they struggle with. Small sensor + wide equiv focal length= large DOF no software app needed.
This is an app to simulate LESS DOF, not "give your smartphone photos DOF" as the title states.

By (unknown member) (Oct 31, 2013)



No, it gives you BLUR not depth of field.
There is a difference between hardware and software, the software can NOT replicate the hardware.

1 upvote

Thats correct, it gives you masking and selective blurring options.
It will only look natural if there is a distinct seperation between subject and back ground (such as a portrait). If there are objects extending from foreground to background through the DOF, it will NOT have the nice "fall off" that wide aperture lenses have which gives that 3D effect.

Edited 48 seconds after posting

All of that is partly true. You *can* develop algorithms that more realistically extend lens blur. This implementation, however, did not impress.

Edited 14 seconds after posting

It's simulated to give it a depth of field look through blurring. Dont take the title so literally.


gaussian blur can never look like unsharpness caused by lenses, no matter how good you mask it

it might look ok in some situations but as soon as you get hard edges and contrasty object that should be blured you can see whats going on


"The consumer DSLR may be dying" ??

Total comments: 12
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