Saturday, April 21, 2012

Perfect Photo Suite 6: Review of Perfect Layers & Perfect Mask

We've had the opportunity to use Onone Software Perfect Photo Suite 6 for the last 3 months, and would like to share our findings.  We did not receive a free copy of their software to review.  We are providing this product review because we believe there is value for Aperture and Lightroom users in the following products.

The suite includes: Perfect Layers for a layered workflow without Photoshop.  Perfect Portrait for portrait retouching.  Perfect Mask for replacing backgrounds.  Perfect Effects, FocalPoint and PhotoFrame for creative effects and Perfect Resize, for image resizing using Genuine Fractals.  You can use the Perfect Photo Suite in any workflow, whether you work in Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture or any combination.  Or simply put, you can also use Perfect Photo Suite as a stand alone application.  Each of these applications are available for purchase separately or all together in the Perfect Photo Suite package.

We are going to focus our review today on two of the tools:  Perfect Layers & Perfect Mask. 

Perfect Layers 2
Onone Software Perfect Layers V. 2 is a Lightroom and Aperture plug-in, as well as a stand alone Mac OS X and Windows application.  It is a powerful tool for layer-based image editing outside of Photoshop.  An easy to use and intuitive interface makes it easy to edit images with layers without requiring the overhead purchase of Adobe Photoshop.  It is similar enough to image-editing tools we already use: tools are in panels, layers can be toggled on and off, and the masking settings include easy to use sliders.  Retouch brushes, a file browser, blending modes, adjustment layers, color fill layers, and masking brushes are all available to use.  Perfect Layers also supports Wacom tablets.

You can use Perfect Layers for mixing multiple exposures into a single HDR-style image, or for creating effects by mixing certain portions of similar images.  I was able to make edits quickly without it feeling overwhelming. 

Perfect Photo Suite 6 Review by Dakota Visions Photography LLC Mt Rushmore Buffalo

Edited images are saved as PSD files so a fully integrated workflow into Aperture or Lightroom is available.  Or, if you want to make edits in Photoshop, the file layers are editable there, as well.

Overall, the tools and interfaces are well put together and the workflow is easy to integrate.  It should be, because Scott Kelby helped design the app!  Perfect Layers adds the layers tools that Lightroom and Aperture users need to quickly make their images look professional.  AND it's easy on the checkbook when purchased separately.  We have a tough time finding a negative with this software.

Perfect Mask 5
Onone Software Perfect Mask 5 can also be purchased as a stand alone application or as a part of Perfect Photo Suite 6.  Masks can be completed in a matter of just a few clicks.  Again, Perfect Mask can be accessed directly from Photoshop, Lightroom, Photoshop Elements and Apple Aperture.  Because there is no masking tools in Lightroom or Aperture without a plugin, photographers who use those programs for a majority of their workflow will benefit from this application.

The interface is easy to navigate but may require a little bit of study because it is not quite as intuitive.  It is not as complicated as the masking workflow in Photoshop so is a good stand alone substitute without the cost overhead.  If Perfect Mask detects a solid color background, it can remove it automatically.  So if you are doing masking projects a green screen or solid background speeds up the process considerably. 

Perfect Photo Suite 6 Review by Dakota Visions Photography LLC big horn sheep black and white photography

If you are already a Photoshop user and can maneuver around with the masking tools there, you will probably have a tough time learning the new tools in Perfect Mask.  But, if you are working in Lightroom or Aperture, the tools will be easy to learn.  The tool is an affordable alternative and provides new opportunities for your photographs.  As with all of their software, onOne Software offers a 30-day trial period, so you can run the software before deciding to make a purchase.  We again, recommend this software to Lightroom and Aperture users. 

We hope you have enjoyed this software review and take the time to add these into your workflow.  They are definitely worth the cost to add in as plug-ins for Aperture or Lightroom users. 

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