Friday, March 7, 2008

REVIEW: onOne PhotoTools 1.0 Professional

Recently I reviewed Nik Software's Color Efex Pro 3.0 Complete, so I decided to check out some of its competition to see how it fair's against other products. After reviewing PhotoTools 1.0 Professional Edition, I think I may have been a little bit too harsh in my review of Color Efex. The Good
  • Lots of really good filters for top notch pro looking photo enhancements
  • Some well known photographers swear it is a great product
  • Layer Mask/Fill with black feature is very useful
  • You can have up to 16 layered effects in a stack - outstanding!
  • You can create your own presets based on a collection of presets. You can even reorder filters in the stack (just like Photoshops layers concept)
  • It has an automated batch mode to apply presets to multiple photos and output to disk. The zoom and hand controls are much better than Color Efex (especially double-click like Photoshop)
  • Good online video help
  • I loved the Kubota Daily Multi-Vitamins A2, and onOne Super Sharpener filters. The skin softening was fairly decent as well.
The Bad
  • Lack of real-time preview (ala Adobe Lightroom, Color Efex, etc...)
  • No 16-bit support like Color Efex
  • Effects aren't as precise or controllable as Color Efex Fewer choices with more control (ala Color Efex) would be better than the current filter overkill and duplication
  • You have to double-click to apply the filter - not intuitive No obvious undo or stack item delete
  • Stack fade window should be non-scrollable and library should scroll below the search box It is not intuitive or obvious that reset button by the fade slider resets the stack - it seems it would reset the fade (fade is basically opacity)
  • The Polarizer, Smart neutral density, and graduated neutral density filters can't even come close to what Color Efex has and those alone are worth the purchase price of Color Efex.

The Ugly

  • Disappearing windows every time you launch their tool in Photoshop drives me crazy! I was in a different app (instant message came) while PhotoTools was loading and it caused everything in CS3 to disappear. I couldn't click on anything and had to terminate
  • Photoshop forcefully – I lost all my work (not good).
  • After installing, I had to restart Photoshop 3 times (each time getting more of PhotoTools features to work) before it worked as it should have. This seems to be related to the fact that it uses .net 2.0 and some componets were not JIT compiled properly.

You can download your own demo copy here, but I would strongly encourage you to try Nik Software's Color Efex Pro 3.0 Complete before deciding which to purchase. For me, I'll get Color Efex if I can just get myself to spend that much money for a filters program.

Features: 3/5 - tons of filters, cool stack concept and batching are great, but the lack of precise control really hurts this product.

Functionality: 1/5 - The UI sucks bigtime in my book

Price: 3/5 - A bit expensive but there's a lot of stuff there and now you can get a discount by using Coupon Code MARTSN when you order.

Recommendation: Buy Nik Software's Color Efex Pro 3.0 Complete first if you can afford it, and if you still have money burning a hole in your pocket then buy this too as there are features here missing from Color Efex. However, if you can only buy one, then get Color Efex.

If your budget is tight, then search elsewhere.

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