Product Review: Perfect Photo Suite 5.5
In response to your digital camera software wants, needs and wishes, onOne Software released Perfect Photo Suite 5.5, their recent upgrade from Plug-In Suite 5 (Perfect Photo Suite 5.5 is also a free upgrade for Plug-In Suite 5 users). The suite includes the following seven, can't live without, plug-ins: Perfect Resize 7, PhotoTools 2.6, Perfect Layers 1, PhotoFrame 4.6, FocalPoint 2, Mask Pro 4.1, and PhotoTune 3.
Perfect Photo Suite 5.5 does as its name implies, it assists you along the way to create the perfect photo. One of the new and innovative features in the suite is that you can now utilize many of the plug-ins as standalone applications. Another great feature is that all of the plug-ins are 64-bit compatible.
For my review, I took Perfect Photo Suite 5.5 for a test drive within Adobe Photoshop CS5 (64bit), with a Windows 7 operating system (the suite is also available for Mac users).
There is one little quirk in the suite that is worth mentioning before starting the review. Unlike many of the other Photoshop plug-ins, only one of the plug-ins (Mask Pro) is located under "filters." The rest of the suite (with the exception of Perfect Layers) can be found under File/Automate/ and then select the filter you wish to use. However, the easiest way to have everything in one place is to simply dock the onOne Panel from Windows/Extensions/onOne.
Perfect Resize 7 Pro
Everyone who has worked in digital photography has experienced the headaches of attempting to enlarge an image that was pure perfection for web use, but the results were disastrous when it came time to turn the 72dpi web image into a workable 300 dpi print. This is where Perfect Resize 7 (the next generation of Genuine Fractals) weaves its magic by skillfully enlarging without distortion from web to print. If you work in the publishing industry, this plug-in alone is well worth the price of the whole suite.
When I first read the onOne Software literature that, "Perfect Resize 7 is renowned across the photographic and printing industries for its ability to increase image size well over 1000% without the loss of sharpness or detail that you would normally expect," I had to see for myself if the results were, in fact, that remarkable. To my great delight, they were!
The original web-based image that I used for this tutorial was 307 pixels [4.264 inches] wide by 230 pixels [3.194 inches] high, and 72 dpi.
Using Perfect Resize 7 Pro, I resized the image to 3000 pixels wide [10 inches] by 2400 pixels [8 inches] high, and 300 dpi.
I also enlarged the same web-based image utilizing Adobe Photoshop CS5 "Web Image" resizing, to compare the quality of the enlargement. Upon printing, the image enlarged in Perfect Resize 7 produced the preferred print: clear image, with sharp, crisp edges.
Original web-based image compared to enlargement using Perfect Resize
Besides enlarging, I was excited about the Perfect Resize new Tiling feature. With the Tiling feature, you can partition a wall-sized image into multiple sections. Then print the sections on your everyday desktop printer; utilizing smaller sizes of paper to create an exact version of the enlarged image using individual image tiles.
To ensure that your new wall collage appears professionally printed, Perfect Resize has improved their Gallery Wrap feature. This feature, "automatically creates extended margins by reflecting or stretching the areas near the edge of the image allowing you to create a gallery wrap without sacrificing any of the original image."
Perfect Resize, not only lets you enlarge individual images, it also functions as a Batch Resizing utility. Batch Resize allows photographers to apply several options to a selection of images, including watermarking (which can be a huge timesaver).
Note: Perfect Resize works as a plug-in with Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Elements, Adobe Lightroom, Apple Aperture, and as a standalone application.
PhotoTools 2.6 Pro
PhotoTools 2.6 Pro is the ultimate timesaver. Yes, it's true, anything that you can do in PhotoTools can also be executed in Photoshop. However, to get the same effects can take hours of trial and error to achieve. Yet, within PhotoTools 2.6 Pro, it's a matter of pick and click. The best part: if you do not like the effect, there are several options of "undo" to either permanently or temporarily undo the applied effect.
The effects to choose from are nearly endless, especially when you consider that you can "stack" one effect upon another. Once you create the perfect combination of effects, you can then save your creative-set as a preset, which is stored permanently within PhotoTools Presets feature.
Once the effects are applied to your image, they appear within your original image on a new layer, which can then be duplicated and/or manipulated. If you are still unsatisfied with the final image, you can reopen PhotoTools and add additional effects to tweak your image to perfection. Again, when applied, the new PhotoTools effects appear on a new layer within Photoshop.
Although PhotoTools is truly a timesaver when adding Photographic effects to your images, it can, ironically, also be a time-consumer…only because it is so much fun discovering new and exciting ways to enhance your photographs using the easy to use tools. Like all of onOne Software products, PhotoTools 2.6 Pro comes with an array of user-friendly tutorials.
PhotoTools also includes a Batch function, which, like Perfect Resize, allows the user to apply the same manipulations that were applied to a single image to several designated images at one time.
I've currently been working with more video files than with still images. So, I was both surprised and impressed that, if you use Adobe Photoshop CS3 through CS5 Extended, with a few extra steps, you can apply PhotoTools 2.6 effects to video, utilizing Photoshop's Animation feature (For step-by-step instructions as to how to use PhotoTools 2.6 in Photoshop, refer to the PhotoTools 2.6 How To page, under Advanced Topics/Using PhotoTools with Video Clips).
Note: PhotoTools 2.6 works as a plug-in with Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, and Apple Aperture. It is not a standalone application and does not work in Adobe Elements. Also, Adobe Photoshop is required for PhotoTools 2.6 to function as a plug-in application in Adobe Lightroom, and Apple Aperture.
PhotoFrame 4.6 Pro
For hobbyists who enjoy scrapbooking, PhotoFrame 4.6 is the perfect application. Especially with the "Layouts" PhotoFrame option. These specific frames supply a large assortment of page layouts geared toward scrapbookers and photo art-book creators. Once you select and save your page, you can then add text to the image within Photoshop. There is also a large selection of specialty backgrounds that you can bring into Photoshop and then apply to your images and/or text.
In the image below, I used a frame from the "Art Supplies" library to enhance one of my limited edition prints. When saved and reopened in Photoshop, the frame application created two new layers within my Photoshop file.
If, after searching the PhotoFrame Library, you still can't find the perfect frame for your project, onOne provides a bonus exchange site (for both PhotoFrame and PhotoTools content), where artists share their creations.
PhotoFrame 4.6 Pro also includes a Batch function, which allows the user to apply the same frame applied to a single image to several designated images at one time.
Note: PhotoFrame 4.6 works as a plug-in with Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Elements, Adobe Lightroom, Apple Aperture, and as a standalone application.
Without a doubt, FocalPoint 2 is a digital photographer's can't-live-without software. I love digital photography…who doesn't? However, the one thing that I miss about going digital is the lack of lens' control. Not being able to precisely tweak the depth-of-field with a basic digital camera is frustrating. FocalPoint 2 gives control back to the photographer.
This little application allows the photographer to make big strides in creating realistic selective focus in images that would otherwise be impossible to achieve utilizing a non-DSLR camera.
The program's FocusBug tool allows you to precisely choose the depth-of-field within your image, as well as add artistic vignette effects. New to FocalPoint 2 is the FocusBrush tool, which allows you to "paint" sharpness, or blur, to specific areas of your image.
Note: FocalPoint 2 works as a plug-in with Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Elements, Adobe Lightroom, Apple Aperture, and as a standalone application.
Mask Pro 4.1
What sets Mask Pro 4.1 apart from other plug-ins is that Mask Pro uses color, not just edges, to define what is to be kept or deleted from an image. This is especially useful when working with images that contain hair, glass, or foliage. Mask Pro's color decontamination technology, along with its specialty tools, like the Magic Brush and the Chisel Tool, adds to the masking magic.
Original image [left] and image after using Mask Pro with a new background [right]
Another unique feature of Mask Pro is the ability to view your image on several different backgrounds as you are masking.
Working image shown on the Single Layer View background
The different backgrounds are: Original View, that allows for viewing of the original image pre-masked, even after you have removed part of the image; Composite View, which shows your newly created masked image over your intended background layer image; Solid Background, where you select a color as a background image; Single Layer View, which is the same as Photoshop's transparent checkerboard background; Mask View, where you can "paint" in or remove masked areas; Clean Up View, which is similar to Mask View, but allows for a final fine-tuning cleanup.
Original Image [left] and image in Clean Up View [right]
The ability to view your image on a variety of backgrounds as you work, removes the guesswork from masking. Mask Pro gives you peace-of-mind, knowing that what you see will truly be what you get.
Mask Pro is another must-have application for the creative artist, with many timesaving tools that eliminate frustration while masking. Masking is still a tedious process, and even Mask Pro 4.1 has a learning curve. Although, like all of the programs included in Perfect Photo Suite 5.5, onOne Software provides excellent, easy-to-follow tutorials that will get even a first-time user working with Mask Pro like a pro within a day.
Note: Mask Pro works only as an Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Elements plug-in.
PhotoTune 3 does like its name implies: it fine-tunes the colors (luminosity, tonality, value, hue, saturation, etc.) of your image. There are three basic modes to work in: Images With People Wizard, Images Without People Wizard, and the Pro Mode. I tried the Pro and the Wizard modes and felt that the Pro Mode was more user-friendly, with better end-results. I'm a person who likes to have as much control of an image as possible, and I found the Wizard Mode was far too simplistic.
Images With People Wizard Mode
The Pro Mode allowed me to precisely select specific details within the image to correct, with its additional slider options, as well as four correction option windows: Tone, Color, SkinTune, and Detail. Within each "correction window" were brief, but helpful, instructions on how the features worked within each of the different correcting areas.
New to PhotoTune 3 is the auto-correction algorithm, Eye-fidelity, which corrects color, contrast, brightness and dynamic range of any of your images with a sole click. As well as onOne presets.
Note: PhotoTune 3 works as a plug-in with Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Elements, Adobe Lightroom, Apple Aperture, and as a standalone application.
Perfect Layers 1
Although Perfect Layers 1 is included within the Perfect Photo Suite 5.5, as of this review, it is still in beta testing, and is due to be released in the spring of 2011.
Per the onOne website: "Perfect Layers 1 is the fast and easy way to bring a layered workflow to Photoshop Lightroom. With Perfect Layers you can create and edit multi-layered Photoshop files directly within Photoshop Lightroom or Apple Aperture. Use it to change skies, composite images and even create layouts."
Note: Perfect Layers 1 will work as a plug-in to Adobe Lightroom, Apple Aperture, or as a standalone application.
While all the programs in Perfect Photo Suite 5.5 were impressive…Perfect Resize 7 Pro and Mask Pro 4.1 tied for my favorite programs, and the ones that I can see myself using on a daily basis…with PhotoTools 2.6 Pro coming in at a close second.
What really impressed me with Perfect Photo Suite 5.5, was the customer support that onOne Software provides: detailed instruction videos for individual products, free online webinars, an onOne University, plus onOne knowledge-based support pages that are updated daily.
The onOne Software people are dedicated to their customers, and include an unprecedented customer commitment: "If you are unsatisfied, for any reason, within 30 days of your purchase, [onOne Software] will refund the purchase price of the software."
I invite to visit and explore the onOne Software website
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February 21, 2011
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