Friday, December 17, 2010

REVIEW: onOne Software PhotoTools 2.6

I’m a busy guy so it’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to do a review on . The last version I reviewed was PhotoTools 2.0 Professional back in June 2009, so this is an update that is looonnng overdue.

If you read my last review I had a lot of rants and raves but more importantly the software had a lot of bugs so I ultimately stopped using it. That’s a shame because I know that onOne Software is a great company who listens to customer feedback and tries hard to make great products, but I think that 2.0 came out before it was ready.

I’m happy to report that this version, at least on my 64-bit Windows 7 based systems and my MacBook Pro seem to be very reliable and more importantly – very fast! I had some troubles when I used 1.0 and 2.0 so the improvement can be directly attributed to a lot of great work by the onOne Software team so I congratulate them for getting over the growing pains of building a new and complex product.


Overall the installation went fairly smoothly for me. However, I did hit one issue on one of my machines (not all) that caused this “Unknown error: -65” dialog to display when I ran any onOne Software product:


After a quick email to onOne Software I found out that this error was resolved by using the instructions at It turns out that I didn’t have .net 4.0 installed and that was required. While I would have liked their setup program to have detected this issue and ran the update for me, it was a pretty painless process and I was up and running with no major headaches after that. In fact, you may already have this update and not even see this problem which is very easy to fix.

I should note that on my Lenovo W701ds Windows 7 system and my MacBook Pro I did not have any problems – they both just worked right out of the box. I am including this note in case you hit it too so you won’t have any delay in getting going again.

What’s New

Here’s some of the new feature’s you’ll find in this version:

  • NEW! Portrait photographers get a new Blemish Removal brush.
  • NEW! Includes new effects designed specifically to enhance HDR photos.
  • NEW! Includes over a dozen new texture overlays.
  • NEW! Over 12 new effects added including new black & white effects.

Example: Editing a Portrait

While you can use this product to edit landscapes, architecture, etc… I thought I’d start by editing a portrait that was in bad need of some help. In the table below you can see that the original has tons of problems, but I started by fixing the white balance in Lightroom by clicking on the grout in between the tiles to get rid of the orange cast (thank goodness I shot in Raw!).

This image was shot at ISO 1000 so I went ahead and ran Imagenomic Noiseware to get rid of the noise. I had tried the noise reduction in PhotoTools, but it appears to be the same as what you find in Photoshop which means it sucks. In my Noise Reduction Series I compared various noise reduction products and Photoshop wasn’t even in the game, and even with CS5 it has a long way to go to catch up to Noiseware.

I decided to try a few techniques to fix this photo. I’ll discuss them more in a moment, but you can see the final results here. When you hover over the text in the bottom row of the table below, the image will switch to the method that you are hovering over. I’ve listed them in the order in which I liked the results. You may click the image or the text to get a larger version to examine the differences (recommended).

Original @ ISO 1000 and White Balance accidentally set to 5100K

Hover over the text below to change to a different version

Magic Portrait Fixer Auto Portrait Fixer PhotoTune 3

NOTE: I did use Sharpener Pro on the first two images after I was done editing them

Magic Portrait Fixer

PhotoTools 2.6 on Mac OS X 10.6.5 and Photoshop CS5 64-bit

This is a filter featured when I typed “Portrait” into the search box to filter down the dizzying array of choices in PhotoTools. I ran this one and it actually adds several filters to the stack. You can see which ones when you click on the image above for a larger size, but it is worth nothing that I masked out the changes to the lips on the Turbo Boost layer and I masked out the hair on the Auto Skin Smoother layer that PhotoTools creates in its stack. I also played around with the fade on several of the layers until I was happy with the final results (not shown above).

Dynamic Light Filter

I thought this effect darkened up the face to much so I went ahead and applied the Dynamic Light Filter which uses the spider tool like you would find in FocalPoint to allow for a little more light on the face which is very much like the effect that Vincent Versace teaches in his book Welcome to Oz, but with a lot less hassle. I loved this feature and the spider tool was a great way to make this adjustment very fast!

With this enhancement and the changes I made to the layers, I was very happy with the results I achieved very quickly with the Magic Portrait Fixer filter.

I should note that I finished this image off with Display sharpening using Sharpener Pro as I found it to be the better tool for sharpening than what I found in PhotoTools. However, I’ll make the disclaimer that I’m still getting reacquainted with this product again so if I find something better that is built in I’ll be sure to report back.

Auto Portrait Fixer

Mouse over to see the mask, mouse out to see the normal window. Click to see a larger version.
PhotoTools 2.6 on Windows 7 and Photoshop CS4 64-bit

Here I tried the Auto Portrait Fixer which is a little less aggressive. Once again I masked out the eyebrows and hair on the Auto Skin Smoother layer using the Masking brush. If you hover over the image above you can see the mask it applied. I liked the results and think they are very good, but the Magic Portrait Fixer version has some extra enhancements like Selective Focus that help to control the viewers eye.

All in all, I’d say this is a good filter that I can see myself using, but for this exercise I favored the more heavy handed Magic Portrait Fixer filter.

I should note that the for the final image for this one I did use Sharpener Pro as I had done in the photo above.

PhotoTune 3

For kicks and giggles I thought I’d see what would happen if I just used the People wizard of PhotoTune. Overall the results were okay, but nothing like the other two. PhotoTune is easy and great for the beginner, but I like PhotoTools way better for enhancing my images. 

I did not use Sharpener Pro on this one as the final step is sharpening so I didn’t feel it made sense to sharpen again.

Add a Frame with PhotoFrame 2.6

I was having a lot of fun playing around with the software inside onOne Software’s Perfect Photo Suite that I ended up doing something I rarely do – I added a frame to my final shot.

To do this I just went to the File menu and chose Automate PhotoFrame 2.6 and it brought up the library window. From there I typed film and chose one of the film frames. Since this is a snapshot I thought it was the perfect frame for the shot. Here’s some of the choices I had available, but it was pages of really cool options in this window:

It is easy to preview tons of great choices
with this brilliant user interface!

After I chose my frame I moved my image around and scaled it a bit smaller so that it would fit nicely in the film strip without being so heavily cropped as was the case in the default scenario. Fortunately I can do this quite easily in the PhotoFrame UI and it takes care of modifying my image and canvas to accommodate everything in Photoshop. This user-interface is very powerful and SUPER fast and reliable in this release:

Resize your image here and PhotoFrame takes care of the rest
(NOTE: Image shown is not from the final image used below)

The cool thing is that PhotoFrame gives you lots of options about how your frame can be applied but my favorite is this mode where the frame is separate from the image. In addition I can edit the layer mask to paint in only parts of the frame effect which is really cool when you want ragged edge frames. Here’s what my image looked like:

This could have been done in the main
image PSD but I broke it out to make
it easy to read here.

In just a matter of a couple minutes I had a fun frame and a great time creating it.


Mouse over to see before, mouse out to see after
The Final Result
(Mouse in and out to see before & after)

The slogan for Perfect Photo Suite is “software that gets you back to shooting”, and I think that is a very accurate claim. I spent about 5 minutes in each filter experimenting with it and then another 2 minutes making the frame, so with little effort on my part I got a huge improvement (hover over above to see the before image) in less than 30 minutes. I’m very happy with the results and the improved performance and reliability will get me back to trying the onOne suite of products more often. I’m jazzed and ready to go edit some more images!

Special Offer


Visit my Discount Coupon Code page to see my latest special offer details for onOne Software. As of the time I am writing this offer they are offering $100 off the Perfect Photo Suite until December 31st, 2010. There’s also upgrade options (including a free upgrade for some) if you are a previous owner. Click here to see the latest offerings by onOne Software including a NEW special offer on Perfect Photo Suite!


onOne Software has provided me with an evaluation copy of all of their products for my review. I may get a commission if you purchase using the links in this article, so I appreciate your show of support by using the links on this blog when ordering.

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