Copyright Scott Bourne 2011 - All Rights Reserved

Post-processing photos at a professional level used to take a serious commitment to learning Photoshop. With the advent of plug-ins and filters, non-professionals can do many of the things that used to be only open to experienced pros.

A new option for both pros and amateurs is onOne Software’s Perfect Photo Suite 6. This program has been around for several years, but this new version is vastly re-worked and vastly improved.

New in version six are the portrait, effects, mask and layers modules. And all apps now work as standalone applications. They also work directly with Apple Aperture, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom. With or without the usual tools like Photoshop, Aperture and Lightroom, many photographers may decide it’s the only post-processing software they need.

The suite is comprised of several modules including Perfect Portrait, Perfect Layers, Perfect Effects, Perfect Mask, Perfect Resize, Photo Frame and Focal Point. The different modules all share a common interface. Once you spend a few minutes with each module you’ll start to figure out how they all work together. Each of the modules has its place.

Depending on your taste, style and workflow, you will probably use some more than others. I have used it to retouch portraits, add borders, resize, create faux HDR, remove cluttered backgrounds, and more.

Since this is just a quick rundown of my first impressions, I’m only going to mention a few stand outs. One module I’ve used time and again is FocalPoint. It’s great for blurring backgrounds and creating man-made bokeh. The texture overlays are also quite interesting. The image of the top-fuel dragster that I made above was transformed by using both the FocalPoint and the Effects modules together. The entire conversion took less than 90 seconds.

I should also mention that it’s easy to “stack” filters and effects so that you can see their cumulative effect. This makes it easy to experiment.

The actual operation of the suite is smooth and easy to master. The learning curve is more than reasonable. To get started, there are plenty of presets provided by onOne and you can make and save your own once you get started. There is also a great resource from onOne called onOne University – hosted on the onOne website. It’s free and helpful.

COMPLAINTS

I have very few complaints about Perfect Suite. I did expect it to be quicker since it’s a 64-bit application. I would prefer that all products like this work from the plug-in or filter menu in Photoshop – whereas some of the modules require you to use the Automate command if you’re working in Photoshop. That’s about it. I may find more I don’t like as I drill down – but so far so good.

CONCLUSION

If you think you know something about the onOne suite, I’d urge you to forget what you think you know – good or bad – and try this new version. It’s a major upgrade. The company offers a free 30-day trial. I think you’ll find the suite to be one of the most powerful tools any photographer could ever use.

Don’t be lazy and assume this is just a way for photographers to “cheat” in post. It’s not. It’s a powerful, useful, well thought-out and designed group of tools that when properly learned and understood – can help photographers think in the field about what they want to do in post and quickly make that happen.

At $299.95 it’s more affordable than many other packages and really offers just about anything and everything you could want in a photo post-processing package. I find myself using it every day and can’t imagine how I managed without it.

Highly recommended.

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