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REVIEW: Plug-In Suite 5 by OnOne Software

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My Thoughts on Plug-In Suite 5 by OnOne Software

I’ve been using OnOne’s Plug-In Suite 5 for a few months now and I think I’m comfortable enough with the collection of Photoshop plug-ins to talk about how I use it and why I recommend it.

Plug-In Suite 5 collects several of OnOne’s best individually available Photoshop plug-ins into a “suite” –  Genuine Fractals  6, Mask Pro 4, PhotoTune 3, FocalPoint 2, PhotoTools 2.5, and PhotoFrame 4.5.  Each of the plug-ins handle different functions, and bundled together provide some impressive capabilities, and is quite a bargain when compared with purchasing the individual plug-ins.  Of course, depending on the type of photography you do, some of the plug-ins will be more useful to you than others.  By far, the most used and valuable plug-in I use from the Suite is PhotoTools 2.5.

PhotoTools 2.5 is a collection of effects and enhancements which can be applied to any type of photograph.  The effects are grouped by categories to to make them easier to apply – there are effects for portraits, landscapes, B&W effects – about anything you could imagine or need.  The various effects can be combined or “stacked” for even more customized, unique results.  Typically, I’ll do my normal adjustments in Camera RAW for color, exposure, and alignment, and create a baseline image from which to work.  Then, from within Photoshop, I’ll jump into PhotoTools 2.5 and just play around with applying various effects.  PhotoTools really allows me to unlock my creativity – I’m not a particularly creative person, so this is very beneficial for me.  If you want to enhance your photos, yet maintain a very natural, unprocessed look, you can do it with PhotoTools – the level of the effects you apply can be scaled.  But if you want to really “push the envelope” and create very surreal, artistic imagery, you can certainly do that too.  On the negative side, there are so many options, it can at times seem overwhelming.  But if you’re willing to invest some time using the tool, you can get some fantastic results.

GenuineFractals 6 – this is a nifty utility that you aren’t likely to use on a daily basis like PhotoTools, but when you do need it, you’ll be so happy you have it.  GenuineFractals has a very simple function – enlarging photos.  For me, the need arises most when I’m making a crop from a larger image.  Sometimes I want the cropped image to be larger than what I have the available pixels for left in the cropped image.  Using GenuineFractals, I can increase the size of an image size well over 1000% without the loss of sharpness or detail – It’s like magic.

FocalPoint2 – I think of this plug-in as the “bokeh maker.”  It allows you to create really slick “blur” effects which simulate the bokeh you’d get in a low-appeture camera setting, tile-shift lens, etc.  Again, this isn’t an everyday effect for me, but  can be really cool when used on the right image or when the need comes up.

PhotoFrame 4.5 – I’ll have to confess that I’ve used this particular plug-in on only a handful of occasions.  When I want to apply a frame or border to a photo, it’s typically a very thin black line border.  But if you do a lot of web design work  or a lot of online galleries when images with a creative, eye-catching frame would be of value, PhotoFrame is an excellent tool.  I just don’t have that much call to use it in the type of photography I do.

Mask Pro 4 – Before the Photoshop CS5 came out with its enhanced selection and extraction capabilities, MaskPro was a huge help in pulling selections out of images.  But quite honestly, CS5 now makes this task so much easier, there’s less of a need for MaskPro.  But if you don’t have CS5, MaskPro may be a great utility for you.

PhotoTune3 – This utility is designed to do image color correction, and is particularly useful for those who simply don’t get how to perform color correction in camera RAW.  Fortunately for me, I’ve become quite proficient at color correction in using Camera RAW.  But of course, no everyone shoots in RAW format, so while this plug-in has little utility for me, others will find it indispensible.

As you can see, the Plug-In Suite is certainly a very comprehensive set of image editing and enhancing tools.  Is anything missing?  Well, if it were up to me, I’d include a plug-in for digital noise reduction, along the lines of Nik software’s excellent Define plug-in.  But outside of this one functional omission, OnOne’s Plug-In Suite 5 really covers the bases well.  I actually started using the Plug-In Suite with version 4 in 2009 so I really feel I’ve gotten the hang of it –  version 5 simply adds 64-bit and CS5 support.  As Adobe has continued to enhance and upgrade the functionality of Photoshop, the necessity of some of the plug-ins found in Plug-In Suite has declined (like MaskPro for example).  But overall, I highly recommend Plug-In Suite 5 – at the full retail price of $499.00, it’s a bargain over purchasing even two of the individual products in the Suite.  OnOne also offers free trials of their plug ins on their website, and have excellent video tutorials which demonstrate how to use their products free of charge.

Visit OnOne Software and download the free trial by clicking here.

About John B. Holbrook, II
John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of ThruMyLens.org, as well as LuxuryTyme.com and TheSeamasterReferencePage.com. *All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.

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