Hopefully you’ve enjoyed the race for the championship of automatic image optimization. We’ve learned that each software has it’s own pro’s and contra’s, produced good or bad results depending on the actual image. Though evaluation was based on 5 photos only and these have been judged subjectively, I think we can see a tendency in the chart that could be a good starting point for your own search, if you feel like in need of such a tool. Let me repeat the overall result here as you might have missed the other posts:
- Image Editor: 26
- DxO Optics Pro: 22
- Xe847 ProPlus Plug-in: 21
- FixFoto: 19
- Intellihance Pro: 18
- PhotoPerfect: 13
It’s a shame my hitlist is headed by a Windows-application, but Image Editor seems to have the most constant quality. The resulting files look good in terms of color, contrast and details in the lights/shadows. I’ve said this before: The colors often look a bit artificial. It seems like the algorithm boosts the primary colors so that blue is blue, red is red etc… it’s simple and effective thus not subtle. Also the midtones get levelled too much for my liking. It reminds me of picture-prints I get from amateur-labs. On the other hand: Wasn’t that what I wanted? Nice & good looking pictures with just one click? Well, yes. Let me please remind you that FixFoto, the other Windows-candidate, can also be purchased with the i2e-plug-in which is the same as Image Editor uses. The plug-in I tried with FixFoto, „Perfectly Clear“ is inferior and can only reach place 4 in the list. If you can deal with the confusing interface and are bound to the Microsoft-system, FixFoto might be a hot shot as it offers a lot of additional features. DxO makes second place in my test for some good reasons. It not only optimizes the images via luminance, contrast and colors, but has a huge archive of lenses by Canon, Nikon, Sigma and other companies. With this, it also can adjust typical distorsion and vignettation automaticly. Therefore it is one of the slower candidates in this field. In addition I’d also like to warn you: It takes a freakin‘ lot of time to download this software and get it up & running, as there are several security-routines to save DxO from getting pirated. Though we have a licence for version 3.5 and bought one for version 4, I was’nt able to get the upgrade downloaded. Again a lot of telephony will be needed to fix this, I’m afraid.
The Xe847 plug-in I used with Photoshop made a surprising third place. I didn’t notice the plug-in producing extraordinary results, often they looked a bit dark. But overall they have been better than the ones of the competitors. One thing I dislike is the absence of a batch-function and I haven’t yet tried if an „action“-routine within Photoshop will work. Otherwise it would be useless for simple, automated optimization. As I discovered later, there not only is the plug-in, but you can also download Xe847 as a stand-alone application. I gave it a quick try, but it was horror: Yes, you can do batch-processing, but you won’t find a way to manually override settings nor see a preview larger than a thumbnail. All resulting images had extreme failures in it like sqeezed pixels and halos. The data have been corrupted by the software totally.
Intellihance Pro was one of the disappointing candidates. Though it ships with a very good interface and preview and offers a wide variety of additional features, the results were often color-tinted, dark, washed-out or lost details in the shadows. Better save your money and take your girlfriend out for dinner!
I’m not sure what to say about PhotoPerfect. The software pleases with a good GUI, batch-functionality, you can convert to black&white or crop pictures additionally, the software provides you with a large preview… but the resulting images have been disappointing almost all the time. „Dark“ is the word. Sorry, but it’s of no use unless the algorithm gets re-coded.
The result is not exactly what I expected as I thought I could probably find a suitable software for my Mac. I’m not willing to buy a new Intel-Mac and run Boot Camp just to optimize my pictures. The only way to get around seems to face the hassle and get DxO. I’ll think about that for a while…
If you are interested in the details, here are the related articles:
Automatic Image Optimization: Introduction
Part 1: Sunlight
Part 2: Available Light
Part 3: Indoor/Mixed Light
Part 4: Studio
Part 5: Going to Extremes