Best Software Upgrades for Designers – Perfect Photo Suite 7

BW LR

Users can choose from a wide selection of presets or create their own using Perfect B&W, part of Photo Suite 7. (click on picture to enlarge)

Continuing my series of best software upgrades for designers, I look at the latest overhaul of OnOne Software’s Perfect Photo Suite 7. Starting life as a series of plug-ins for Adobe Photoshop, Elements, and Lightroom, Perfect Photo Suite 7 has evolved into a powerful and scalable stand-alone image enhancing suite. This review was first published in the February 2013 edition of Print Action magazine. You can read the entire article in PDF form here if you like, or you can keep checking back at SoftCircus for the next installment.

PPS7 boxshotPerfect Photo Suite 7
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When last reviewed in PrintAction (August 2010), OnOne Software’s impressive Plug-in Suite 5 promised to make digital photography “faster, easier, better”, and in most ways lived up to the promise. Since then, the crew at OnOne have been busy improving an already robust photo editing product aimed at the imaging professional who needs just a little more than Photoshop can provide on its own.

Being a plug-in developer can be a tough job when Photoshop is constantly evolving to hold its spot as top pixel editor, especially when its newest features are often ‘inspired’ by the very plug-ins it hosts! While Perfect Photo Suite 7 functions can still be accessed individually through the plug-in architectures of Photoshop, Elements, Lightroom or Aperture, it’s evolved into a powerful standalone workflow for improving images, applying artistic effects, precise masking, creative focus, and black-and-white conversions. Additionally, the Genuine Fractals image enlarging technology has been incorporated into Perfect Resize within the latest iteration of the suite.

Focus copy

The focus-bug at work creating a very cool tilt-shift blur. (click on picture to enlarge)

When first launching the Perfect Photo Suite 7 application, the user is presented with the intuitive Layers interface flanked with an image browser to the left of the workspace and familiar Navigator and Layers panels on the right. The workspace contains basic editing tools including transform, crop, trim, mask, retouch, move and zoom tools. Within this environment, users can jump to each of the suite tools by selecting the clearly marked function in the menu bar, automatically repopulating the workspace with applicable tools. Aside from combining all the plug-ins in a harmonized interface, OnOne has spent considerable time and effort improving each of the products.

Perfect Mask greatly improves on the masking capabilities first introduced in Mask Pro with a range of powerful tools, including Keep, Drop and Refining Brushes, Automatic Background Removal, as well as a variety of cleanup tools to enable users to mask very complex images such as hair with relatively little effort. New to Photo Suite 7, Perfect Portrait provides re- touching and correction tools specifically designed for dealing with the imperfections of human skin. Additionally, users can adjust eye and teeth whitening as well as detail – far easier than a trip to the dentist!

Perfect Effects brings everything from antique film grains through edge manipulation and artsy frames to your image editing workflow with real-time previews and bespoke controls to make each effect unique. The Perfect black-and-white plug-in steps users through an archive of historical mono- chrome print processes, again allowing each to be customized in a variety of ways to suit any taste.

My favourite suite plug-in is FocalPoint 2 that enables users play with focus in order to recreate the look of very fast lenses and to precisely control depth of field, especially when used in conjunction with Perfect Mask. It can take a bit of practice to get the hang of using OnOne’s innovative FocusBug to adjust size, blur and vignette but it’s worth the effort. Once you get FocusBug, Photoshop’s Blur Tools seem downright primitive in comparison. In addition to circular focus adjustment, FocalPoint 2 includes planar focus necessary to create the trendy tilt-shift miniature effect.

Historically, OnOne Software’s best-known application has been Genuine Fractals, its renowned image enlarging software. Now rebranded as Perfect Resize 7.5, the app still harnesses OnOne’s proprietary fractal-based interpolation algorithms with much faster processing speeds than earlier versions. In plain English: It makes pictures bigger and sharper more quickly! Additionally, Perfect Resize offers presets covering every- thing from social media and video through massive gallery wrap canvases. In a prepress workflow, this tool can be invaluable for improving those horrible 72-dpi images your customers keep asking you to throw on press.

As well as the customary user guides, OnOne University hosts more than 100 online video tutorials in addition to a vast knowledge base. For my money, this is far more useful than a static PDF user guide. Each plug-in is available for purchase individually should you only require a single function, but buying more than one can quickly out-price the standalone version of the entire suite. At $499, Plug-in Suite 5 (2010) was a solid product at a good price. Starting at $150 for the standalone version, Perfect Photo Suite 7 (2012) represents an astounding value that can add profitable new capabilities to the prepress department with a relatively short learning curve.

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