First Exposure: Perfect Photo Suite 7

by Stan Sholik

Photo Courtesy of OnOne Software

January 15, 2013

When onOne Software released its Perfect Photo Suite, it presented both Mac and Windows-based photographers with a new workflow option. Within one standalone suite of programs, without the need for Lightroom, Aperture, Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, photographers could work in layers, enhance and stylize images, perform sophisticated masking and image scaling, and create selective focus and blur effects. In later releases, onOne added a powerful portrait retouching module. Of course, if you owned any of the aforementioned imaging programs, you could access Perfect Photo Suite from them.

Now, with the release of Perfect Photo Suite 7, onOne introduces significant upgrades to Perfect Portrait, Perfect Layers, Perfect Effects and Perfect Resize, a minor change to the Perfect Mask interface, and an entirely new module, Perfect B&W. Only FocalPoint 2 remains unchanged. The upgrades are too extensive to deal with in detail, so I will mention those that I found most significant and spend some time on the new Perfect B&W module. The onOne Software website (www.ononesoftware.com), has more detailed information about the changes, along with excellent tutorials.

Perfect Layers 3 is the central module of Perfect Photo Suite 7 into which the standalone program opens. You can also access it from Lightroom 4 by way of the File>Plug-in extras path, or when you right-click on an image and select Edit with plug-in if you added Perfect Photo Suite as a plug-in. Using this path also ensures that you retain the GPS metadata in the file, which seems to disappear if you open certain modules directly from Lightroom. You can also launch Perfect Layers 3 from Apple Aperture by right-clicking on the image and selecting Edit with plug-in and from Photoshop Elements by selecting File>automation tool. From Photoshop you can only enter the individual modules, but the cool docking panel under Window>Extensions>onOne makes this easy.

New features in Perfect Layers 3 include an image browser with built-in search functionality, new blending modes, an Extras tab with texture and border libraries, and PNG support. Worth mention separately is the new edge-detecting Perfect Brush that appears now throughout the modules and works amazingly well to apply masks and adjustments when good contrast exists between areas of the image. The perfect Brush is available in the Perfect B&W, Perfect Portrait and Perfect Effects modules, as well as Perfect Layers.

The user interface in Perfect Layers is also redesigned, and the new interface is found in most other modules. The effects browser moves from below the preview window to the far left of the interface. Tool panes with sliders and selections for manual adjustments are found on the right of the preview window, while the tool well holding tools for instant or quick adjustments is found at the upper left of the preview window. And the Extras tab in Perfect Layers 3 mentioned above which holds popular frames, borders and edges from PhotoFrame 4.6, is also found in Perfect B&W and Perfect Effects 4.

The upgrade to Perfect Effects 4 includes a flexible browser and the ability to search the expanded library of photographic effects, frames and borders by keyword. A Favorites tab now allows you to save your favorite effects for quick access, rather than having to search them out each time, and a My Presets tab allows you to save a stack of presets for use with another image later.

Perfect Resize 7.5 PRO gains a browser with a library of presets for output to popular inkjet papers, as well as to iOS devices, photo labs, video, web and e-mail options. The interface is revised to bring it in line with the other modules, and processing speed is somewhat increased. I found none of these revisions earth-shattering, but because I use Perfect Resize for nearly all of my image scaling, the new presets and processing speed are surely welcome.

Another module that I use extensively is Perfect Portrait. The new interface in Perfect Portrait 2 moves the presets browser to the left of the preview window. Faces are still automatically detected, but now eyes and mouth are also detected automatically (or pretty close anyway). This is still faster than setting the points manually. Control points allow you to drag the automatic eyes and mouth detections to more precise positions. The retouching panes on the right of the preview window apply automatic corrections the skin areas that are detected. The retouch brush in the tool well to the upper right of the preview window allows you to click on blemishes and have Perfect Portrait remove them automatically. 

If there are multiple faces in the image, you work on them individually by clicking inside their detection box. Or if it’s a large group shot, you can work on them all at once by simply using the sliders in the tool panes. Unless I really need heavy-duty skin enhancements and face sculpting tools, Perfect Portrait is excellent and easily accessible from the imaging programs I use for portraiture.

I do confess to using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 exclusively to convert color digital captures to monochrome. I find the results when printed on my Epson 3880 to be equal to and often exceeding what I could achieve after years of printing in a wet darkroom. So I was especially interested in seeing what onOne had to offer with its new Perfect B&W module.

Even if you’ve never made a black-and-white print, or even shot black-and-white film, you will have no problem getting started with Perfect B&W. The interface is identical to that of the other modules, so your image opens in the preview window with the default black-and-white preset applied. The browser section on the left shows the different available effects in list view. Icons at the bottom of the browser section let you change from list view to single-column, two-column and three-column thumbnails of your image with the available presets applied.

As you apply different presets to your image, the adjustments are visible in the tool panes on the right of the preview. You can make further adjustments there. Ten tools are available, which means a lot of scrolling up and down if you have a few open. I would prefer that one tool close when you select another, to minimize scrolling. It would also be nice to be able to stack adjustments as you can in Perfect Effects.

Those quibbles aside, Perfect B&W is a well-conceived new module. With 35 film options from which to choose, grain structure to 29 options plus custom for toning images, plus color filters, tonal mix sliders, vignettes and borders, there is little lacking, other than a polarizing filter, in Perfect B&W. And that’s just with the presets and their adjustments for overall image changes. 

The tool well in Perfect B&W holds brushes for brightness, contrast, detail and selective color to adjust selective areas of the image. All of these brushes can be used as an edge-detecting Perfect Brush or as a normal brush where edges are ignored. There is even a targeted brightness tool in the tool well that you place over an area and scrub left or right to darken or lighten the tone, but this isn’t quite what Nik has to offer with its Control Points.

Choosing between Nik’s Silver Efex and onOne’s Perfect B&W is going to depend on the user—I’m on the fence at the moment. A lot will depend on what Google has in mind now that it owns Nik Software. onOne has shown a lot of interest and energy improving its software over the years and providing new solutions for photographers. It seems that onOne is on the right track with Perfect Photo Suite 7, and I recommend it highly. Unless you are doing HDR or need sophisticated RAW file processing, Perfect Photo Suite has just about everything you need to adjust and create unique and sophisticated images.

A 30-day free trial is available for Perfect Photo Suite 7 at www.ononesoftware.com. For new users, the MSRP of Perfect Photo Suite 7 is $299.95. Owners of Perfect Photo Suite 6, Perfect Photo Suite 5.5, and Plug-In Suite 5 or earlier can upgrade to Perfect Photo Suite 7 for $149.95.



Microsoft® Windows® Minimum Requirements:

Current maintenance release of Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8, 

64 bit recomended

2.2 GHz Intel® Core 2TM Duo, Core i5, Core i7 or Xeon multicore processor

4 GB of RAM (8+ GB RAM recommended)

1.5 GB of free hard disk space

20 inch or larger with 1600 x 1200 or higher resolution

OpenGL 2.0 video card with 256 MB video RAM

An Internet connection is needed for activation

Optional Host Applications: Adobe Photoshop CS4, CS5, CS6, Photoshop Lightroom 2, 

3, 4 and Photoshop Elements 9, 10, 11


Apple® Macintosh® Minimum Requirements:

Mac OSX 10.6, 10.7, 10.8 current maintenance release

  2.2 GHz or faster Intel® Core 2TM Duo, Core i5, Core i7 or Xeon multicore processor

4 GB RAM (8+ GB RAM recommended)

1.5 GB of free hard disk space

20 inch or larger with 1600 x 1200 or higher resolution

OpenGL 2.0 video card with 256 MB video RAM

An Internet connection is needed for activation

Optional Host Applications: Adobe Photoshop CS4, CS5, CS6, 

Photoshop Lightroom 2, 3, 4 and Photoshop Elements 9, 10, 11, Apple Aperture 3



Stan Sholik is a commercial/advertising photographer in Santa Ana, CA, specializing in still life and macro photography. His latest book, Lightroom 4 FAQz, published by Wiley Publishing, is now available.


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