CyberLink PhotoDirector 4 Ultra review

Mac-based photographers are already well catered for, with multiple editing programs available from both Apple and Adobe. However, this month sees an entirely new photo-editing program appearing on the Mac for the first time, in the form of CyberLink’s PhotoDirector 4.

PhotoDirector is certainly a powerful editing program that provides great precision and control when working with your photos. However, it’s quite a complex program and might not be ideal for people who are just stepping up from iMovie.

The program puts a series of tabs at the top of the screen, which allow you to switch between several sets of tools. The Library tab is where you organize your photo collection, with standard tools such as the ability to add tags to photos, to perform face-recognition, and to group photos together into albums.

The next tab takes you into Adjusment mode, where you can alter settings such as brightness, contrast and colour balance. It’s similar to the Adjust palette in iPhoto, but goes much further with very precise controls for settings such as hue and saturation, chromatic aberration and keystone distortion.

Unfortunately, CyberLink just piles all these tools up within a single palette that scrolls down for what seems like miles. Thankfully, the program does include some preset adjustment effects, such as ‘soft and dreamy’ and ‘lomo’, that you can apply automatically. However, a tidier interface would make it easier to find the tools you need more quickly.

The third tab takes you into the program’s Edit mode. This is similar to the Guided mode in Photoshop Elements, and helps you to perform tasks such as using the Body Shaper tool to slim a few pounds off someone’s waist, or the impressive ‘content-aware removal’ tool that can remove unwanted detail from the background of a photo. However, PhotoDirector can’t match the wider range of filters, selection and layer tools found in Photoshop Elements.

OUR VERDICT

PhotoDirector’s emphasis on its adjustment tools makes it more of a rival for Adobe’s Lightroom or Apple’s Aperture than for iPhoto or Photoshop Elements. However, it’s more expensive than Aperture, and lacks the wider range of filters and effects found in Photoshop Elements, so it may struggle to find a niche alongside those well-established rivals. Fortunately, there’s a trial version that you can check out for a month before buying.

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