Power Retouche Review
The Chromatic Aberration window aims to reduce the coloured lines found around the edges of high contrast areas which are created when the lens can't focus all the colours of the spectrum onto the sensor. They usually appear as purple or blue lines but can be green or orange as well.
The picture will be in the main screen with a sparse layout of sliders to the right. Unfortunately, the split screen preview isn't available on the Chromatic Aberration screen and I think it would be important on this one so that it's possible to see the actual physical changes being made. Simply because sometimes they're so small, it can be difficult to tell whether anything has changed or not.
The Transverse sliders adjust red to cyan, green to magenta and blue to yellow. The sliders default to the centre and sliding them either way boosts the colour that you select while reducing it's opposite.
Beneath this is a longitudinal adjustment bar to bring primary colours into focus. As ever, each slider has a reset button that will put the bar back to zero if changes have been made that can't be recovered.
There's a technique for adding variable softness to a portrait that a soft filter simply can't replicate. It's done by duplicating the layer, adding a gaussian blur at a value of around 20 to 30 and reducing the opacity to get the desired effect. The softness filter in Power Retouche does the exact same thing but without the messing around. In fact, the default setting that automatically applies is round about where the levels should be.
We found that it softened skin nicely while still managing to retain an element of sharpness. Obviously the image wasn't sharp, but looking at the picture, we knew that it was under the soft filter. Edge definition somehow manages to remain while the picture looks hazy. It's difficult to explain and hopefully the example will give an indication of what we mean. We've zoomed in on the eye to try to demonstrate it better.
The new radial effect allows you to add a point that will remain in focus while the rest of the image peters out of focus. The strength of which will depend on the settings you input into the slider. A small click to reposition button changes the cursor into a cross when the mouse is hovered over the picture. This allows you to determine the origin of the radial effect.
A nice touch would be to allow multiple points to allow each eye to remain in focus on a portrait, for example. We also feel that the changes that it makes - especially with the radial effect - are too minimal and a visual display would be a good idea, such as turning the blur red.
There are loads of things to do in Power Retouche to keep a photographer busy for hours. A lot of the programs are already available on Photoshop which can seem pointless to get alternative versions, but Retouche will make it more adaptable concise in the execution.
We've grown to like the old fashioned Windows 95 design, we think it makes the program look quirky. The rest of the layout is extremely primitive looking but filling the coding with fancy colours and twirls is simply unnecessary.
We think that some of the defaults are perfectly acceptable for simple adjustments to pictures but if you do want to get your hands mucky, then Retouche offers plenty of scope for making changes to your picture. We think the best part of the program is that it's not using artificial filters that are added as layers to your picture. The changes are made as they would be in a pre-CS4 Photoshop which is good that it adjusts the picture directly but can be a pain if you're used to the layering workflow of CS4.
We love the split screen option in some of the filters and wish it could be used across the board. It would also be nice to have it more adjustable so the split can be placed in critical areas that need examining.
We feel that the softness radius effect needs a more visual approach because we could barely see the changes it made unless we went to the extreme ends to make sure it was working. We also discovered that if we closed the program down using the x in the top corner, the sliders wouldn't come back up again. We just got a blank screen with the picture sitting in the middle and to this day it's still not working.
For the money, the program is very extensive and powerful. The tools are accurate and concise but could be more visual. We think if you need more control over your work and Power Retouche covers it, then it's definitely worth having a go with it.
Interestingly, the program is split into factions so you don't have to buy the full package if you won't need it. The different filters are available for around £19 each ($29) except the black & white studio which is £30 and the full system which is £75. However, getting all the plug-ins will save you £430 compared to buying them separately which is great value.
|Ratings (out of 5)|
|Value for money||4|