PercepTool full review

Can a single click really represent 30 years of research and hard work? Professional photographer George DeWolfe certainly thinks so - his PercepTool plug-in for Photoshop CS3 and CS4 attempts to mimic your visual cortex in order to make an image look the way your brain thinks it should. In one fell swoop, this plug-in alters the brightness, edges, and contrast of your images.

It’s targeted to professional photographers and anyone else interested in producing the greatest depth possible in their color or black and white images. The most recent update gives users a welcome speed boost over previous versions of the plug-in.

Getting started

Installation is a manual affair, though easy enough; just drop the plug-in and script files into their respective folders inside the Photoshop CS3 or CS4 application folder and then relaunch Photoshop. Either way, you’ll want to read and follow the recommended workflow that’s been carefully laid out in the plug-in’s accompanying PDF.

PercepTool isn’t a “fix all” solution - it’s meant to be used after your regular global and local adjustments to make your image pop; if Apple’s Aperture, Adobe Lightroom or Camera Raw is part of your workflow, you should optimize your image there first and then open it in Photoshop and run PercepTool.

For the best results, be sure to correct clipped highlights in those programs first, as they represent areas whose color values have been pushed to 100 percent. Since clipped highlights are stripped of detail, PercepTool has very little chance, if any, to make those areas look better.

Pro photographers who use Photoshop Extended will appreciate the ability to edit 32-bit RGB images. Standard users can edit 8- or 16-bit RGB or Lab images (Lab mode cannot be used on 32-bit images).

NEXT: Using the PercepTool Script

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