Thursday, November 24, 2011

REVIEW: onOne Perfect Photo Suite 6.0.1 – Say Goodbye To Photoshop?


Integration Done Right!

People joke that it takes Microsoft three versions to get things right, and there’s probably some truth in that. In the case of suite bundles from onOne Software I’m going to say that they’ve been doing things right for a while, but the sixth time is certainly a charm.

Integration Done Right

When I had my first look at Perfect Layers, I knew that good things were in store for onOne Software’s future. While the first version was lacking some critical features, they had opened Pandora’s box by offering something sorely missing from Lightroom – layers. It was a good start, but it left me wanting for more.

Since I first started reviewing plug-ins in 2007, I’ve been complaining to onOne Software and Nik Software that its ridiculous that they have separate user-interfaces for all of their products. I wanted to see the products integrated where each product was merely a module, and they could all work together. I’m happy to say that onOne Software has become the first to answer the call in Perfect Photo Suite 6.

There’s tons of new features in this bundle, but nothing outshines the most important one – integration. You can now launch a stand-alone executable (which can also be launched from Lightroom’s Plug-in Extras menu) that will start in Perfect Layers, but it allows you to use all of the products in the bundle to create a single file.

Lightroom users should rejoice as this may be enough for some to avoid owning Photoshop. While advanced users won’t be ready to give up Photoshop, they will appreciate the ability to do some advanced edits using the suite where going to Photoshop becomes optional. There’s so much in this bundle with the massive enhancements with Perfect Effects (formerly PhotoTools) and the addition of Perfect Portrait that I’ve been finding myself doing all that I need for some of my photos without going elsewhere.

Perfect Photo Suite 6 is integration done right, and I love it!

What’s New

Perfect Photo Suite 6 - Stand-Alone Version
I love the new stand-alone user-interface

For the sake users of the previous generation of onOne Software products, I’m going to be quite frank – this is the first version that I really find myself using extensively. In the past I liked what was offered, but either bugs, quirkiness, or slow performance just kept me from really using their products. I knew there was some things that I wanted to use, but in reality I found myself only using Perfect Resize and PhotoFrame regularly.

Perfect Effects is nearly perfect and a much better tool

Mouse over to see before, mouse out to see after
Having fun adding a little color and snow to the hot air balloon event with Perfect Effects

PhotoTools offered some great plug-ins, but its lack of preview and painfully slow performance made me avoid it like the plague. That’s unfortunate as there were some really good filters in it, but I just couldn’t stand not having real-time previews and fast performance. I’m thrilled to say that my prayers have been answered, and now PhotoTools has been renamed to Perfect Effects to become the product I always hoped it would be. There’s live thumbnails with large hover previews that show me exactly what will happen to my photo if I select a given filter (like Lightroom’s Navigator window in the Develop tab. Applying the filters is fast, and like before they are stackable. While UI features like search and favorites are sorely missing, I find myself able to quickly find what I’m looking for. I’m also feeling that less is more, so the lack of clutter makes this version SO much more approachable.

Perfect Portrait doesn’t suck

Mouse over to see before, mouse out to see after
Mouse in and out to see the before and after of this fast Perfect Portrait edit

I’m a huge fan of Portraiture – I use it on every photo of a person that I am editing, so when I heard about the addition of Perfect Portrait I was skeptical. I was fearful that it would just be a disappointment like Portrait Professional that left my people looking totally fake (or lacking a believable probability), but instead I was very pleasantly surprised at what I got for a v1.0 product. This product will not only will it automatically detect the skin, eyes, and teeth but it also does a pretty darn good job with its default processing. Fortunately the folks at onOne realized that “auto” anything usually sucks, so they let you refine the areas they detect simply by brushing and you can dial in the enhancements to suit your taste. There’s even the ability to adjust the opacity, skin tone and add grain so that final result looks like you did hours of facial editing. I’m very, very happy with the direction this product is going! While I still prefer Portraiture for my needs, this is going to be my go-to product for non-commercial work. It’s just too fast and easy not to use it!

Everything Else

I’ve already talked in-depth about the enhancement to Perfect Layers that makes this product compelling, so I’ll talk a bit about the other products in the bundle. Simply put, Perfect Resize, Focal Point and PhotoFrame don’t get any significant enhancements and feel pretty much the same. The biggest difference is that they are integrated nicely in to the Perfect Suite host app and play nicely with Perfect Layers for what feels like a nicely integrated experience.

This leaves MaskPro – the product that got me excited about onOne Software from day one, but I’ve never been able to master. This appears to be a new version that is nicely integrated into the suite, but functionality-wise seems identical to its predecessor. If you are a fan of this product, you’ll be very happy with the great performance and integration, but if you’ve been frustrated by it then there’s not much here to help you with that this time around. I want to love this product, but right now ReMask is just easier for me to wrap my brain around and use effectively.

Video Demos

I couldn’t possibly do this product justice without a couple videos that show it in action. These videos are a bit on the long side (about 15 minutes each), but they also act as basic tutorials to help you get started. I recommend turning your speakers way up and clicking the HD link to view it full screen at 1080p:


Play in HD

Here’s another video where I try to give some hot air balloons a little extra oomph and have fun by changing the weather conditions:


Play in HD

While I know my videos won’t be getting any academy awards, hopefully you learned a few things so you understand the potential of this suite.

Coupon Code Details

Using Coupon Code RMART20, you can get all this for as little as $134.96 (or $269.96 for first time buyers)! This has to be one of the best deals going right now, especially considering everything you get.

Discount subject to change, so consult my discount coupon code page for the latest details.

Here’s a screenshot that shows you where to enter your code:

onOne Software Discount Coupon Code

Conclusion

onOne Software has impressed me with each release because it’s been clear that they are listening to customers feedback. They have made huge strides in improving performance, reliability, usability and integration to create their best release yet. 6.0.0 had a couple bugs, but 6.0.1 has been rock solid in my testing.

I highly recommend this product for those looking to go beyond what Lightroom offers, but who aren’t interested investing in Photoshop (both financially and the time investment). For many, I think it will be the one stop shop that completes their photo editing experience.

For Photoshop diehards like myself, I think you’ll find that this suite is useful for your quick edits as well as several of its products in your normal Photoshop workflow. If you haven’t invested in Portraiture, then you’ll probably be satisfied enough with Perfect Layers to get the job done.

I don’t really consider this suite as a replacement for Nik Software’s suite (currently 20% off) as Nik’s suite has very different products included. I’d still consider Color Efex 4 over Perfect Effects, but there’s little overlap in the filters offered by both so they can co-exist together very well. If you can afford both, I’d go that route as both will make your images look world class. If you can only afford one, then the choice becomes more difficult. If you don’t own Photoshop (regular or elements), then this is probably the right product for you to invest in. If you do, then I’d still have to say go with the Nik Software Suite, but this is a close second (and the price is right). Given my love for the Nik Software suite, that’s a significant endorsement for this package!

Disclosure

I was provided with a copy of this product to review prior to it being released to the public. I was also given a private demo of how to use it in New York City. If you make a purchase using links in this article, I may make a commission.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

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8 comments:

SAF said...

I purchased this for my new Mac with the latest version of Photoshop and several of the filters CRASH - despite following all the normal troubleshooting - no joy. I've even reinstalled, repaired disk permissions, etc.

I'm surprised, nay shocked, that with new equipment and the latest PS it simply does not launch.

The standalone has the same issues.

Ron Martinsen said...

Do you have the latest update installed? Have you contacted support? What you are experience naturally isn't what should be happening so I'd contact support and figure out what is going on. I've used it on a couple macs without any trouble, so I suspect there is something unique to your situation that they hopefully would be able to diagnose quickly.

If you are like me and don't have time to call, I've found that I've email support usually got things done - just slower than picking up the phone and calling.

This has been the most reliable version of onOne Software that I've used and with the latest update I've not had any crashes.

Ron

SAF said...

I just purchased it, so I downloaded from the link that onOne sent me.

I did fill out a technical support question today, after I'd exhausted all normal troubleshooting steps and the ones in the knowledge database.

Ron Martinsen said...

Ok, let me know if things don't get sorted out quickly as you shouldn't have any problems.

SAF said...

They responded early Monday. Apparently the Intel 3000 chipsets on the newer Macs are the problem. Till it's fixed, they're recommending a rollback to 6.01 and that should correct the problem till an update is released. For all those with this issue, they're holding the tech support tickets open till it's fully resolved.

Ron Martinsen said...

That's why the latest gear is referred to as the bleeding edge - sometimes being the latest and greatest can be problematic.

Wow, that sounds like a fail on Intel's part for not having proper backwards compat.

Thanks for the update!

SAF said...

Well thanks to the top notch support people at OnOne, they not only responded very quickly, but provided the perfect solution. Whew!

These tools are huge timesavers and filled with savvy.

I'm up and running.

Ron Martinsen said...

Cool, I'm glad you got it sorted out SAF!