Cyberlink PhotoDirector 9 for Mac review
PhotoDirector 9 is something of a dark horse among Mac photo editors because, initially, you might notice only its organising and sharing features. However, dig a little deeper and you'll find powerful tools for editing images, despite the app avoiding a toolbar-style approach and mostly eschewing the use of Photoshop-style pen/brush tools.
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 Manual tab offers slider-based control, including a histogram, while the Presets selection lets you click to apply readymade filters. For many this could be the main working area within PowerDirector 9, because you can adjust levels and curves, and make adjustments like lens corrections. These tools aren't token efforts either, because most tools offer a great deal of specific control via sliders.
However, 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.
New to PhotoDirector 9 is the ability to work with 360-degree images, and a lot of power is on offer. However, it can get very 'clicky' as you work through each of the options, which are arranged as a menu-like list on the side of the screen, and we longed for a more intuitive toolbar-approach.
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 Create 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 20GB free for one year).
Enhanced RAW support means the program can handle more file formats than ever, and 100+ lens profiles allows it to automatically fix a host of common lens flaws.
Positioned firmly in the semi-pro area, PhotoDirector 9 takes a fresh approach that means it's packed with features but operates unlike most other photo-editing apps we've looked at. Rather than take a tool-based approach, the app prefers to walk you through tweaks and edits.
You can almost certainly achieve the same things as you might with something like Photoshop - and perhaps more, such as the ability to tweak 360 degree photos - but it can be a little frustrating getting used to the app and finding where everything lives.