Cyberlink PhotoDirector 5 Review
Mac users, we're pleased to announce Macphun's all-in-one photo editor Luminar is now available for purchase with special launch pricing. (Existing Macphun customers get a further discount.)
We rated Luminar as "Highly Recommended", and you can now visit the Luminar web site to try it for free.
Once you've made the adjustments you want, you can move over to the Edit page. PhotoDirector 5 will create a new image with the adjustments made so that it's non-destructive. There are a number of features in the Edit section that could keep you entertained for hours. They're split up into six sections as drop down menus. The People Beautifier adjusts areas such as teeth, eyes, skin and wrinkles. Like the Object Removal option in Adjustments, the Wrinkle Remover is a simple Patch tool as what you'd find in Adobe Photoshop. The problems arise if you've used the HDR effect previously as it blurs out sections of the image to create the glow. You then can't use these areas as they'll stick out like a sore thumb.
Once you've made the edited all you want, you can create a slide-show by dragging the pictures into the frame in the Slide-show tab. You can add music, change the duration of each image being shown and adjust the aspect ratio. It's crude when compared to a slide-show program, such as Photodex Pro-Show, but then it's not a dedicated system. For a quick display of the work, it's great, but if you want to do a proper job, get a dedicated service.
There's also an option to print your pictures using the Print button, which is the fifth tab. In here, you can arrange pictures onto one sheet, which is actually a great little tool for professional photographers who may want to create a montage or triptych.
Typically – and we say this because of previous tests of Cyberlink products – PhotoDirector 5 works very well. It's smart for a budget program, but isn't without its faults. Saying that, the faults mainly lie in the small things such as the content removal not managing to cope with complex patterns. That's fair enough, but there's not much of a provision for cleaning it up. The picture still has to go into Photoshop and you may as well use that from the start if you're going to do that.
On the slide-show, there's no way to centre align the text. You can't overlay tiles to create a montage of text either.
Processing of adjustments is fast, though and we like the non-destructive element. Importing and exporting doesn't take as long as we expected.
The whole program seems well laid out and has an intelligent work-flow and while it's obviously taken inspiration from Lightroom (and the other 99% of these programs) it works well enough.
Exporting large files, such as the hi-res slide-shows can take a long time – depending on your processor. We exported a high definition version (1920x1080) and it took over an hour with 3Gb RAM. It will also vary depending on the size of the project.
Ironically, despite the failings of the content aware system still leaving a line of “residue” from the item you remove, it's also very intelligent on the edge awareness. Our test image overlapped a zipper on the model's top. We selected the area to include it and the system left it alone. It's also pretty good at working out what goes behind the subject, or at least guessing, so that it looks natural.
Our problems that we encountered in PhotoDirector 3 (the last time we looked at a PhotoDirector version) were that processing a slide-show kept crashing the system. We did manage to get a HD version processed and exported, but it did crash on us once. It also took a long time to process. There could be more flexibility in the slide-show, because it's fun to use and a lot of people forget that; opting for video instead. It would be nice if individual tiles could have a wipe or fade added to them or the control of the motion so that heads aren't chopped off in portraits.
The overall system is a breeze to use and despite our previous experience, that was a year and a half ago but we got back into it straight away.
There's still no provision for batch processing and that's a real shame. Professional studio photographers who use the same lighting through a set would benefit from being able to use that.
Many of the effects are available elsewhere and have been for some time. The beautifiers have been present on Paint Shop Pro since at least X2; we're now on X6. The Wrinkle Remover is essentially a patch tool. While the Body Shaper is the Liquify tool in Photoshop. However, while this technology already exists, PhotoDirector has it at a cheaper price (arguably not less so than Paint Shop Pro) and in a simpler language that amateurs will understand.
The attainable price tag and powerful systems make Cyberlink PhotoDirector 5 an attractive purchase if you're a keen amateur or start up professional.
|Ratings (out of 5)|
|Value for money||4.5|