REVIEW: Perfect Photo Suite 5.5 By OnOne Software
Back in August of 2010, I wrote of my love of OnOne Software’s Plug-In Suite 5 – an indispensable part of my photography work flow second only to Photoshop itself. Late last year, OnOne Software released a re-branded upgrade to the suite, now called Perfect Photo Suite 5.5. When I got my MacBook Pro last month, I went ahead and upgraded (free for licensed uses of the previous Plug-In Suite 5). If you’re looking for the bottom line here, I’ll go ahead and give it early on: Perfect Photo Suite is a must have. If you own previous versions of Plug-In Suite, it’s a no-brainer – upgrade. It’s just $199.00 to upgrade if you own versions previous to 5.0, and free if you own 5.0. If you don’t own it, what are you waiting for? At $499.95, this suite will pay for itself with the results you see in the very first project you use it with. If you’re a member of NAPP like me, you can apply a substantial discount to both the upgrade or full versions. As an aside, let me say how very much I appreciate OnOne’s policy on cross-platform versions. As I mentioned, I recently got a MacBook Pro, and it was zero cost and easy as can be for me to download the Mac version of the suite, as a licensed user of the software. Adobe could learn a thing or two here.
OK – so with the cut-to-the-chase recommendation of the product out of the way, let me discuss what’s new with the upgrade, and what I like. To begin with, the plug-in formerly know as Genuine Fractals 6 is now re-named Perfect Resize 7 – it’s the most substantial upgrade in this 5.5 suite. The plug-in is a life saver when you need it, and I think the previous name (which referred to the underlying fractal based technology used in the plug-in) didn’t convey that message, whereas the new name makes a stronger correlation to it’s basic function. The new version adds some great new features including new Smoothness and Sharpening controls to achieve the highest quality results when enlarging images. It also includes enhancements to make printing easier, including a Gallery Wrap preview.
As I mentioned in my review of the previous suite version, Photo Tools is the plug-in I use the most in this suite, and the new Photo Tools 2.6 has some great new effect additions which I’m already taking advantage of. PhotoTools 2.6 now has a total library of close to 300 effects that photographers can easily browse, preview and combine to create images that truly stand out. In particular, the new portrait enhancements tools like Toothbrush, Mane Tamer, Tanning Booth, Blemish Brush, and Skin Texturizer have all come in VERY handy. I also played with the tools in the new HDR Enhancer Category – they include Brian Matiash’s favorite effects for enhancing HDR images. Some users will find these helpful but to be honest, they’re not going to replace a stand-along HDR software package like my favorite Oloneo PhotoEngine. However, I will add that while PhotoTune 3 is largely unchanged from the previous suite, it does have an impressive Dynamic Range Enhancer capability which can largely duplicate the tone mapping capabilities of many other packages like PhotoEngine. So whether you’re looking for a natural look or an HDR heavy effect, you can definitely achieve it with Perfect Photo Suite.
PhotoFrame is the plug-in I use the least, but it’s a very important tool for professional portrait or wedding photographers, and does include some enhancements from the previous version. PhotoFrame 4.6 brings several new collections of layouts, including 27 new wedding layouts to help bring added diversity to your wedding packages, and a series of 6 new senior portrait layouts to add more creativity to your school portrait projects.
OneOne will also be releasing an entirely new Plug-In part of the Perfect Photo Suite later this year called Perfect Layers. Perfect Layers will be free to licensed users of Perfect Photo Suite. I’ll be sure to update this article when the product is released, but my assumption is the Perfect Layers will do for layers what Mask Pro 4.1 (unchanged from the previous suite here in 5.5) does for working with masks. Like MaskPro 4.1, FocalPoint 2 remains unchanged from the previous suite version.
Another big improvement to the overall suite which many users will appreciate is the ability to use many of the suite’s plug-ins outside of Photoshop as stand along applications, or with other photo editing tools like Aperture, Lightroom, or Bridge. Very impressive, but it should be noted here that the Photo Tools plug-in still requires Photoshop.
OnOne also continues to offer fantastic support for their products, including the recently announced OnOne University channel on YouTube with loads of tutorials and archived webinars with really help users get the most from these great tools. I wish Adobe supported Photoshop as well as OnOne does with their products.
OnOne Software offers a free 30-day trial for Perfect Photo Suite, as well as the individual plug-ins which comprise the suite. These products really need to be used to appreciate them so I highly recommend downloading the demo and trying it for yourself.
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.