Perfect Photo Suite 9 from software maker On1 is the latest iteration of a software package that now includes seven powerful apps. While these apps are available separately as plugins for Photoshop, Perfect Photo Suite puts them all in one place and includes integration with Photoshop and Lightroom for those lucky enough to own all three packages.
But is this a smart buy for budding photographers who already own the aforementioned apps? We took a look at the latest version 9.5 to find out.
On1’s Perfect Photo Suite 9.5 is available in two editions which have slightly different features. The Premium Edition is a standalone application for those who are searching for an all-in-one image-editing solution as well as plugins for Adobe Photoshop CC, CS6, Adobe Lightroom 4, 5, Adobe Photoshop Elements 11, 12, 13, and Apple Aperture 3. The Basic Edition offers only the standalone application with no plugins, but otherwise the features, functions, tools, and capabilities are mostly the same.
One of the features new to Perfect Photo Suite is Browse. This GPU-accelerated RAW preview mode makes Perfect Photo Suite 9 feel like a more complete and integrated solution than previous incarnations. It allows you to quickly view and evaluate your RAW images whether they’re on your computer, network, or on a cloud-based storage service. The Browse module features GPU acceleration for quick navigation and automatically displays sources such as Dropbox, Apple iCloud Photo Stream, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive.
Perfect Photo Suite 9 features Layers, similar to those available in Photoshop. This makes it possible to blend multiple images together, for example when replacing an existing sky with a more interesting one. The Layers Module contains a Quick Mask tool that does a fairly good job of selecting and masking out a sky by simply dragging your brush over it, as long as the difference between the landscape and the sky is clear. For trickier transitions, Perfect Photo Suite 9 has a selection of tools designed to help you finesse and improve the edges.
This module gives you a range of tools for improving the colour, tone and detail in your shots. This is where you would make what photographers called ‘basic edits’ when processing RAW files in preparation for exporting them to JPEG for sharing. This module also features the Perfect Eraser brush, which works like Photoshop’s Spot Healing Brush with the Content-Aware mode activated. It’s intended for small to medium-sized objects like powerlines, people, large dust spots and signs. The module also features a Retouch Brush, which is designed to remove skin blemishes or small dust spots. In Photoshop parlance, this brush is most similar to the Spot Healing Brush set to Proximity Match.
The Perfect Portrait module is a more automated approach to retouching portraits than you may be used to in Photoshop. The software automatically detects faces, placing anchor points around the eyes and mouth. With the selection made, it’s possible to add smoothness, glow and even colour tints to the skin while protecting the sharpness and tones of the eyes and teeth.
This module consists of 14 categories containing dozens of filters for adding colours tints, bloom, softness and other effects. For fans of Instagram and similar smartphone-based image-editing apps, there’s a Hipster category which contains light bleeds, textures and Lomo-style effects that are all the rage in photo-sharing apps. If you’re into the retro look, this module also features colour film, instant film and mono film emulation presets for those who like to add a vintage flavour to their images.
With a library of 97 different presets, this module allows you to try out a range of black & white styles on your RAW files. With so many presets to choose from, you’re bound to find one that works out of the box. If you prefer, you can tweak the settings of each preset, including the vignette, texture and tone curve, allowing you to create your own custom styles.
Perfect Photo Suite 9’s Perfect Resize feature (formerly the Genuine Fractals plugin) maintains clarity and sharpness in your images, even when enlarging. The module also boasts a ‘Gallery Wrap’ feature, which creates extended margins around your pictures for printing to canvas. You can choose to either stretch or reflect the areas near the edges of the image to avoid losing any part of the photo. Another handy feature is the batch-processing engine which allows you to resize a folder of images in one fell swoop.
Value for money
The basic version of Perfect Photo Suite 9 is available for £59.99 on the Apple App Store, which is cheaper than the £103.88 for Lightroom 6 and the £64.81 for Elements. The Premium version, reviewed here, usually costs $149.95 (£96), but is on offer at $79.95 (£51) at the time of going to press.
For editing veterans, we’d still recommend a combination of Lightroom and Photoshop; the former for its file organisation capabilities and the latter for the quality of its Layers and effects. However, if you’re new to photography and want an automated approach to editing, Perfect Photo Suite 9 is a quick and easy way to make your RAW files shine.
Whether you’re an existing Perfect Photo Suite user or you just want to see if the software fits into your existing workflow, we recommend you download a free trial version and try it out for 30 days. With tone curves, fast previews, Layers and Masks, Perfect Photo Suite 9 might just be everything you need in an image-editing app.
Perfect Photo Suite 9 has become more than a set of plugins. With the introduction of the new GPU-accelerated browser, the suite now feels more than ever like a complete editing solution. The decision to buy comes down to whether you like the effects and the workflow, so download the free trial and give it a go.
- Street Price: Premium Edition – $149.95 (£96), Premium Upgrade – $99.95 (£51), Basic version £59.99 (As of June 2016)
- Compatibility OS X 10.8.0 or later, Windows 7 or later, 64-bit processor, OpenGL 2.0 compatible video card with 256 MB dedicated video RAM, High-speed internet connection for activation, Intel Core 2 Duo, Xeon or better processor, 8GB RAM, 1.5GB HDD space for installation
- Free trial available: Yes (30 days)
- Visit: www.on1.com
This review was first published in the September 2015 issue of Digital Photo - download back issues here.