PhotoDirector 8 Ultra is a powerful tool for managing and editing digital images.

Launch the program and you'll find it's split into six sections.

"Library" is where you import, view, rate, tag and generally organise your photos. There are plenty of time-saving tools on hand (face tagging, the ability to exclude duplicates when importing), but it's all very straightforward and easy to use.

The "Adjustment" section provides manual and fully automatic tweaks for colour, white balance, tone, sharpness and more, as well as crop and rotate tools, various healing brushes and a red-eye remover.

The "Edit" tab ramps up the creative possibilities with a range of more powerful tools. The People Beautifier provides options to whiten teeth, remove wrinkles, perhaps reshape your subjects for a more slimline look. The program can remove unwanted objects from pictures, automatically filling in the background. There's a bracket HDR tool, panorama creator, filters, frames, a watermarking tool, and more.

The "Layers" tab supports up to 100 layers per photo, which you can manipulate with various tools (Pen/ Eraser/ Add Shape/ Text/ Selection/ Fill/ Gradient) and 14 blending modes.

When you're finished your work, the "Slideshow" section helps turn your photos into a video file, or a slideshow you can share directly on YouTube. The "Print" tab provides a great deal of control over any printouts you might want to make, and your projects can freely be saved and shared online via CyberLink's Cloud Services (you get 25GB free for a year)

New features include the ability to create multiexposure images by merging a series of photos together. Smart object tracking helps to automate the process and overlay the images correctly.

There's a new option to extract a frame from your videos, enhancing it via TrueTheater technologies to deliver the perfect picture.

You get 40+ "Overlays", one-click web filter-like effects: lens flares, colour shifts, scratches, "grunge" and more.

A more finely-tuned Colour Shift tool makes most of the image black and white, retaining just the shade you choose for a really eye-catching effect.

Other highlights include simplified layer editing, and hierarchical tags for more versatile photo management.

PhotoDirector 8 Deluxe is the baseline version of the program. It has most of the features we've described, but leaves out layer-based editing, auto lens correction, the Panorama creator, Blur tools, the new multi-exposure tools, a few other high-end filters and the 25GB of cloud storage.

PhotoDirector 8 Suite extends the package with ColorDirector, which delivers a stack of colour grading features for video: noise reduction, sharpening, RGB curve adjustments, video colour replacements, a live histogram, intelligent object motion tracking, split toning and more. It also doubles your cloud storage space to 50GB.

Verdict

A competitively priced alternative to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom that will appeal to home enthusiasts looking for a decent blend of powerful features and usability.