Perfect Photo Suite 6 review

Perfect Photo Suite is an image-editing toolbox that can be installed as a plug-in to Lightroom, Aperture, Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, or used as a standalone application. We’re looking at the Photoshop plug-in, available as a pop-up dialog via the Automate menu (clicking Apply at any time closes the onOne dialog and returns you to Photoshop).

The Perfect Portrait component is one of the most useful – able to instantly find and isolate a face in almost any portrait shot and apply a preset range of effects to enhance the image. These include tweaking skin tones, retouching blemishes and shadows, and adding sparkle to the eyes and white to the teeth. Shiny skin areas can be swiftly reduced by increasing a slider value, while a mask view allows finer editing of skin, mouth and eye areas. The automatic preset applied consistently offer a slightly fake-looking result, so fine-tuning is usually necessary. However, as a quick fix it’s ideal.

Perfect Layers, a utility we reviewed earlier this year, offers the ability to create and edit multi-layered files directly from Lightroom and Aperture. Version 2 adds a file browser, a crop tool and a retouch brush, to the component. It’s useful, but really only worth a look if you don’t have Photoshop to build multi-layered files.

Brush it off

Perfect Portrait offers a quick fix to late-night blotches and blemishes, but can veer towards a waxy effect a bit too readily

Of more use is Perfect Mask, a successor to the venerable Mask Pro utility. It lets you quickly knock out a background to enable the compositing elsewhere of the main subject of an image. A Drop Brush makes the rough cut, while a Refine Brush works on finer areas like hair. It also offers a useful Automatic Background Removal mode.

FocalPoint 2 is a welcome component, offering the ability to apply depth-of-field effects and selective focus control to produce a creative blur look. A control widget, the FocusBug, lets you position and vary the effect of the blur. It can be fine-tuned using the FocusBrush. Multiple lens presets are available – the updated blur algorithm used in FocalPoint 2 closely matches actual lens blur to create a realistic bokeh, including aperture-shaped highlights.

Perfect Effects, as the name suggests, lets you add some pizazz to an image. Recommended for use after colour correction and retouching, but before sharpening or resizing, it offers a library of effects, with a gallery of thumbnail previews of their effect on your image. Multiple effects can be stacked to give a composite output – the individual effects can be reordered in the Effects Stack pane.

Perfect Resize (or Genuine Fractals 7) has the power to upscale images, and is thus one of the last adjustments to apply. It can handle layered files, so there’s no requirement to flatten the image first. You lose some definition when scaling to larger dimensions, but the results are pretty good – certainly adequate enough to print a poster from a snapshot if your audience doesn’t look too closely. It’s useful, but not essential if you can use Photoshop’s own image size command.

The final adjustment is even more optional  – applying a framing effect. There are over a thousand of these in the PhotoFrame library. These include the traditional wedding or holiday type frames you’d expect, but also a number of darkroom-style edging effects. Thumbnail previews are on hand to steer you through the preset library, but there’s also the facility to build your own framing effect.

OUR VERDICT

Lightroom or Aperture users will find this suite a useful addition to their image-editing toolset if they don’t have Photoshop, or at least a recent version of it. Most creatives will also welcome the options offered by FocalPoint and PerfectPortrait, though some of the other components are a bit mixed in their appeal.

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