CyberLink PhotoDirector Ultra 5 review

It may now offer HiDPI support, but PhotoDirector 5 hasn't changed much in appearance and workflow. It's more powerful though, with a 64-bit rewrite and improvements to RAW and JPEG image processing, allowing for faster import, export and image previews.

In terms of image correction there's new 'automatic' fixing of lens faults based on the EXIF data of the image, such as barrel and perspective distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberration. The application ships with over 60 built-in lens profiles and additional profiles are available on DirectorZone, but the support is by no means exhaustive.

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There's also new noise-reduction methods in the form of automatic denoise and photo texture recovery, which can restore texture detail lost when reducing luminance noise. There's also greater curve control, with adjustments now available for individual red, green and blue channels.

The Manual adjustments panel gains a new Split Toning section for adjusting the hue and saturation of the highlights and shadows of an image. It makes for interesting effects resembling vintage film stock and can add mood to a shot. There's an increase in the number of one-shot Presets to suit, such as Split Toning, Blood Orange and Yesteryear.

If you have multiple versions of the same photo that were shot at different exposures, you can use a special new Photo Merge tool called Bracket HDR. As well as the amalgamation process, which can be set to remove any 'ghost' artefacts, you have access to controls for adjusting glow, edge, tone and detail. Results are good and HDR presets are also available.

In terms of image management, the library gains the ability to stack similar images automatically in the Photo Browser, based on their content. Obviously this works better if the images are from a similar time frame or photo-shoot, but you can create stacks manually too.

Another enhancement is the ability to export video slideshows up to 2K (2048 x 1152) or 4K (4096 x 2304) UltraHD. Video can be produced with transitions, titles and background music,  though it seems only in MPEG-4 format, then shared on YouTube.

OUR VERDICT

Still keeping focus on organisational tasks, the 64-bit PhotoDirector also gains strength in the image-processing and correction areas with this release. Features like HiDPI support, HDR Bracketing, Split Toning and Channel Curves are welcome, as is automatic stacking in the Photo Browser. There could be wider format support than just JPEG and TIFF though, while the video export, although enhanced, seems to be stuck on a single format too.

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