Perfect Photo Suite 7 in Review

Perfect Photo Suite 7 is the newest collection of perfect proportions, photo enhancement software by OnOne Software. Within the suite are: one new product (Perfect B & W), four new versions (Perfect Portrait 2, Perfect Layers 3, Perfect Effects 4, Perfect Resize 7.5 Pro) and two returning favorites (Perfect Mask 5, and FocalPoint 2).

The Premium Edition is available for both Mac and PC and works as a plug-in within Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop Elements, Adobe Lightroom, and Apple Aperture. Perfect Photo Suite 7 is also available in a combo Adobe Lightroom and Apple Aperture Edition, and as a Standalone Edition (the Premium Edition, as well as the Adobe Lightroom/Apple Aperture Edition, can also be used as a standalone program).

A complete list of the Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Lightroom, and Apple Aperture versions that Perfect Photo Suite 7 works within is located on the onOne Software Tech Spec page.

The User Interface (UI)

Over the past two versions, the interface has improved with the user in mind; including collapsible panels to maximize the image workspace. Although the UI in each of the seven programs in the Perfect Photo Suite 7 is similar to the majority of photo editing software (option bar, toolbar, document window, panels), each of the individual programs have their distinct controls and tools.

One extremely helpful feature is the before and after views, allowing the photographer to view the image in its original state, as well as the enhanced version, side-by-side. One of my favorite features of the UI is located above the "panels" section, where you can toggle between the Navigator, Loop, and Histogram. Moving the navigation box (within the Navigator Panel) also moves your image to that specific area in the document window, resulting in a quick and easy way to navigate to a specific area of your image.


Perfect Photo Suite 7 User Interface within the Standalone Edition

Working with Perfect Photo Suite 7 within another photo-editing program (Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop Elements, Adobe Lightroom, or Apple Aperture) allows the user to work within each of the individual products separately. Note in the image below, when working with Perfect Photo Suite 7 within Adobe Photoshop, Perfect Layers 3 is not included in the Perfect Photo Suite 7 drop down menu.


Opening Perfect Photo Suite 7 within Adobe Photoshop.

However, when you bring an image back into Photoshop from a Perfect Photo Suite program (in the above example, from Perfect Effects 4), all the layers that were generated in the Perfect Photo Suite 7 appear in the Photoshop layers panel, thus there is no logical reason to include Perfect Layers 3 when working within Photoshop.

Also, when working with one of the individual products in Perfect Photo Suite 7 within another photo-editing program, only the specific product you opened (Perfect Effects 4 in the example below) is available to work on. If you wish to work on another product within the suite, you have to click on the "apply" button, which will close the product and open your image once more in Photoshop. Once in Photoshop you can then open one of the other six products. Images that are enhanced in any of the Perfect Photo Suite 7 products will open within Photoshop on a separate layer (or layers), preserving your original image on the Photoshop background layer.


The User Interface of Perfect Effects 4 when opened within Adobe Photoshop

In contrast, when working with the Standalone Edition of Perfect Photo Suite 7, you are able to easily switch from one to the other of any of the seven products within the suite (Perfect B & W is opened in the example below, with links to all of the products within the suite).


User Interface of Perfect B&W opened in the Perfect Photo Suite 7 Standalone Edition 

Perfect B & W

There was a time when Black and White photographs were the staple in every amateur and professional photographer's arsenal. With its multitude of enhancements, Perfect B & W will bring the love of Black and White photography back to the masses.

Included within Perfect B & W are the Essential Adjustment Brushes; a set of powerful brushes designed to specifically replicate Black and White "darkroom" techniques and chemicals. As well as adding special effects, the brushes also allow for pin-point accuracy when dodging and burning; making it easier than ever to produce details in otherwise bland photographs. Applying Perfect B & W to your photographs brings your visions to life in ways that were once only achieved within a traditional photographic darkroom.


Using the Brightness Brush (one of the Essential Adjustment Brushes) in Perfect B & W

Blending Modes, along with Toner, Filter and Film Presets add additional enhancement to any Black and White photograph. Add to that, the Tone Curve allows photographers to adjust and optimize the contrast and balance of each image.


Applying the "50 Ilford Pan F" film preset in Perfect B & W

There was a time that grain was determined by the type of film utilized to gain the intended effects … now with the Film Grain feature you can adjust your final photograph's grain after the fact in your virtual desktop darkroom.

Black and White photography is not always black and white. Adding tints, tones or selectively adding or subtracting color to an image is exceptionally easy using the Edge-Detecting Perfect Brush.


Applying the Carbon Print Warm effect to a black and white image

Once your "perfect" B & W image is conceived, you have the option to add a variety of boarders. For those who use their photographs in scrapbooks, you can take your final Perfect B & W image into layers and utilize the built-in backgrounds (or import your own images).

FocalPoint 2

Achieving complex lens blur with professional results is uncomplicated using the new built-in Lens Presets within FocalPoint 2. The improved blur algorithm creates true "in camera" directional specific depth-of-field. The results are so realistic they appear to have been achieved within the camera instead of created in post-work.


Using the Lens Preset (Canon 100 2.8 Macro at 5.6) in FocalPoint 2

FocalPoint 2 provides additional ways to add depth-of-field, including the Focus Bug. The Focus Bug can be used as a single unit or to create multiple focal points, allowing the photographer to define the area (or areas) to keep "in focus."


Using the Focus Bug in FocalPoint 2

Then, the new Focus Brush can be used to further fine tune or touch-up specific areas with more or less blur. If you wish to, you can continue to enhance your image by adding one of the various onOne or NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals) "art presets" from the built-in preset list.


Using the Focus Brush in FocalPoint 2

Perfect Portrait 2

Even portraits of models taken by professional photographers require retouching. The easiest way to put a perfect face on your subject is to use the tools provided in Perfect Portrait 2. Getting started has never been easier … simply click on the Automatic Face Detector. This magical feature locates not just single faces in an image, but detects all the individual faces within one image. The photographer can then adjust the facial features individually; including eye enhancer, teeth whitening, and color correction, as well as blemish and wrinkle removal.


Eye & Mouth Control Points (Face Edit Tool) after adjustment (insert shows original auto-select)

The Eye & Mouth Control Points works very efficiently … but only once adjustments have been made to the various points. Although this feature is supposed to be automatic, I tried it on numerous portraits and found the points lacking in exact placement. The adjustments to the points can be effortlessly refined by merely moving the individual points to outline the inner eyes and outlining the lips.


The Edit Face Tool (in the Not Skin mode) removes retouching accidently applied to the hair

The Color Correction feature removes color cast and color shifts from the whole image, not just the facial areas. Finally, removing skin imperfections using the Perfect and Retouch Brushes is merely a click and/or stroke away. If you accidently change a non-face part, just change the brush mode (within the Edit Face Tool) from Add to Skin to Not Skin. Once the portrait is perfected using Perfect Portrait 2, additional magic can be achieved by opening Perfect Layers 3.

Perfect Mask 5

If you are looking for a quick and easy way to remove a background and/or add a new background to an image, Perfect Mask 5 will instantly become your favorite editing tool. This new version is exceptionally intuitive when it comes to automatically knowing what to take out and what to leave, even with complex backgrounds.


Using a combination of brushes a complex background is removed within minutes not hours

To further improve the masking process create additional "Keep and Drop Color Sets" using the Keep Color and Drop Color Eyedroppers. Then, zoom in to fine tune the mask using the Magic Brush Tool, the Refine Brush Tool, or the Chisel Tool.


Applying the Magic Brush Tool to further fine-tune a mask after magnifying

Create the perfect final image by adding a background from either your own library, or from the numerous built-in libraries within the Perfect Photo Suite 7.


Final image created in Perfect Mask 5 using the "skies02" built-in background library image

Perfect Layers 3

Anyone working in Adobe Photoshop, or any of the current photo-editing software on the market, has worked with layers in one form or another. Although Perfect Layers 3 has a slightly different look and feel from the traditional layer's panels, it works essentially the same: image layers are stacked either on top of, or underneath the others, allowing the artist to manipulate individual layers. Perfect Layers 3 is especially essential when using the Perfect Photo Suite 7 as a standalone photo-editing program.


Adding background to an image after enhancing with Perfect B & W and Perfect Mask 5

Within Perfect Layers 3 is a library overflowing with backgrounds, textures and borders, which can be combined to add drama to your images. If you would rather use your own images (or combine your own photos with the built-in library images), merely click on the browse link to open your image files within the Perfect Layers 3.

Perfect Layers 3 also lets your creativity soar with the ability to tint an image through blending layers and changing a layer's opacity. Further enhance your photographs by using the Masking Brush, Masking Bug and the Perfect Brush.

You can also save your layered image (layers fully intact) to further work in programs such as Adobe Photoshop. Also, new to this version of Perfect Layers 3, is the ability to save an image as a PNG file.

Perfect Effects 4

From enhancing your images to a crisp HDR appearance, to giving your photographs an old-world vintage feel, Perfect Effects 4 is the perfect fit for your photographic special effects. Although the program works magic in morphing your image from realistic to avant-garde, it does an equally great job of enhancing an original photograph from bland to unique.


Adding a "painterly" effect to an image using the Tone Enhancer under Effects Options

If you have a favorite effect (included in the software's library or one that you have created), in this version of Perfect Effects 4 you have the option to save your effects and presets in the new Favorites Folder.

As well as presets, Perfect Effects 4 has a variety of tools to help you quickly and easily achieve the image you envisioned (but were unable to capture in your camera). Use the Perfect Brush, or one of the brushes in the Paint-in Effects Brushes, to enhance specific areas by adding detail, glow, or supplementary color. You can also selectively apply effects to a defined area within your photograph.


Original image compared to the image after applying a variety of effects from Perfect Effects 4

Each of the 11 categories within the Effects Options panel has subcategories with numerous presets and adjustable sliders. Add to that the inclusion of the improved blending mode. All of the effects can be combined and/or layered to create a one of a kind work of art. Although onOne Software's PhotoFrame has been discontinued, you can still finish your image with a whimsical boarder, or frame, which are now built into the Perfect Photo Suite 7. 

Perfect Resize 7.5 Pro

Printing a perfect photograph from a digital image is no longer intimidating if you use Perfect Resize 7.5 Pro (Genuine Fractals reincarnated). Even when resizing from web-based images to posters prints, enlargements remain sharp; retaining their original detail.

Perfect Resize 7.5 Pro is a must-have for all levels of photographers, from professionals to hobbyists. Included in this version are over sixty document presets that allow for cropping and enlarging a photograph in one quick, easy step.


A 5x7 web-based image resized using a Canon 16x20 Gallery Wrap preset

There are also endless combinations of sizes, settings, sharpening, fine grain and tiling options. If you are using a Mobile Phone or an expensive DSLR with specialty lenses, the resizing tools within Perfect Resize 7.5 Pro further fine-tune your enlargement to pure perfection.


Fine Tuning a 5x7 web-based image into a 11x14 high quality print

If you need to make a poster size image and only have access to a desktop printer (limited to printing 8 x 10 prints), Perfect Photo Suite 7 has the perfect solution … Tiling.


8x10 original image resized to 34x52.25 and tiled into 20 (8.5x11) images

Once you have resized and enhanced your image, turn on the Tiling Panel. There you can select your paper size and if you want to include an overlap. When you are satisfied with the placement of the grid, choose JPG or TIFF and the location you want to store your image tiles. Then click Apply. Perfect Resize 7.5 Pro automatically divides your resized image into the number of tiles listed under Tile Count (in the Tiling Panel).


Resized and tiled images ready for printing

When you are ready to for your poster, just print your seamless images and assemble them as you would a puzzle.

Conclusion 

The Perfect Photo Suite 7 Standalone Edition, especially with Perfect Layers 3, creates a smooth transition from one product to another, and serves as quick and reliable photo-editing software. While the non-standalone editions are invaluable individual photo-editing plug-ins.

The only negative that I encountered using the Perfect Photo Suite 7, was that it crashed on more than one occasion (in the standalone edition and when using it within Adobe Photoshop CS6). This problem occurred more frequently when attempting to access Perfect Resize 7.5 Pro, however, my screen also froze while using Perfect B&W.

The Perfect Photo Suite 7 is a powerful program, handling exceptionally large image files, especially when utilizing Perfect Resize 7.5 Pro. So, if you are working in Windows 7, and use the Perfect Photo Suite 7 on a laptop (like I did for this review), be sure to save your work often (which is logical advice when working with any photo-editing program).

I also miss two of my favorite products from the Plug-in Suite 5: the now defunct PhotoFrame (some, but not all of the borders and frames made their way into Perfect Photo Suite 7) and Photo Tools Professional Edition (reincarnated into Perfect Effects 4). The good news is that upon install, onOne Software gives you the option to keep Plug-in Suite 5 alongside the Perfect Photo Suite 7. Also, a 30-Day Free Trial is provided for each product, so you can try before you buy.

Excellent customer service is the most important reason that I consistently recommend onOne Software. Not only do they produce outstanding products, they also supply a learning center, featuring a free "onOne University" and complimentary teaching webinars. It is evident that the management of onOne Software takes pride in everything they produce, but even more important, they care about the people they create their products for.

  • onOne Software Perfect Photo Suite 7 website
  • Premium Edition: (Plug-in for Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Lightroom, Apple Aperture, and as a standalone program): $299.95 | $149.95 Upgrade
  • Lightroom & Aperture Edition (Plug-in for Adobe Lightroom, Apple Aperture, and as a standalone program): $149.95 | $79.95 Upgrade
  • Standard Edition (Standalone program): $79.95

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January 14, 2013

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