I own every major (and maybe even minor) photo plugin, filter, template and preset on the planet. I like many of them. But if I were asked to pick just one, I’d probably lean very hard toward Perfect Photo Suite 7. This product has matured very nicely and offers photographers just about everything but the kitchen sink in the way of photography post-processing.
It works with all major software like Aperture, Photoshop, Elements, Lightroom, etc. and it offers various modules designed to make the workflow quick and efficient. Perfect Photo Suite can also be used as a stand-alone product.
The modules are Perfect B&W, Perfect Portrait 2, Perfect Layers 3, Perfect Effects 4, Perfect Resize 7.5 Pro, Perfect Mask 5.2 and FocalPoint 2. The naming convention is confusing but since these modules all live under one roof, it’s no big deal.
In the latest version of the software, the interface has been redesigned. It’s been moved to the left side of the screen and feels more natural there. It’s much easer to use and yet much more powerful, offering new features like search.
What I really like about Perfect Photo Suite 7 is the ability to edit the presets and to mask them in or out using new tools that fine tune the application’s many options.
Each of the seven modules is powerful and offers great results. There may be instances when you would prefer the results of Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 over Perfect B&W for instance. But if you take time to practice with Perfect Photo Suite 7 you can build your own presets and within a few days I was close to duplicating anything I’d done in Silver Efex Pro 2. Some may even prefer the presets in Perfect B&W.
The mainstay module for me in the new version is Perfect Effects 4. This is an awesome, powerful, creative set of tools that let me tweak images in whole new ways. The ability to paint in effects here is amazing. I used to have to take images into layers in Photoshop to achieve this. Now I can do it all inside Perfect Photo Suite 7.
I also need to mention another great module. Perfect Portrait is easily the best facial retouching tool I have ever used. It was obviously designed by a photographer, not an engineer. It uses facial recognition, combined with the ability to mask out the eyes and lips for different treatment along with extremely well-thought-out presets to help achieve professional results by just about anyone.
Perfect Layers is a big deal – especially if you use Aperture where there has never been the option to use layers and where there probably never will be.
Perfect Resize 7.5 (which used to be Genuine Fractals) is much faster than it used to be and is the best way I know to rez up an image for printing in large formats.
Perfect Mask 5.2 works a little easier with more automation and FocalPoint allows you to create beautiful bokeh even when you didn’t have it in the original photograph.
Perfect Photo Suite 7 is $299.95. I think that’s an amazing deal given all that you get in return. There is upgrade pricing for previous owners and all the information you need about acquiring the package are at http://www.ononesoftware.com. You can even get a free 30 day trial.
There are so many plug-ins to choose from these days that it’s hard to know where to invest your money. But I’m banking on Perfect Photo Suite 7 for the following reasons. They’ve consistently improved their software over the years. They didn’t sit on their hands and say it was good enough. They moved forward with new ideas that had to come from photographers, because they implemented these ideas the way I would have. The program is faster, smoother and easier to use than before. It’s well thought-out and I really think it could work as the only plug-in you’ll ever need with one caveat. There’s no HDR/tone-mapping engine in Perfect Suite. There are some faux HDR presets. I still think you need an HDR program, assuming you’re into HDR. But otherwise, Perfect Photo Suite 7 is the one to bank on.