Home Buyer's Guide Software 2010
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Specialized Software

Put these programs to work to make your digital photography more effective and fun

Labels: Plug-InsSoftware

This Article Features Photo Zoom

There are a lot of plug-ins available to make Photoshop more manageable, more than we have space for here. They’re generally very results-oriented, in other words, about the photography, not the software. You get controls to make photos look better in specific ways, such as adding the look of a graduated filter, and you don’t have to know anything about applications like Curves or layer masks.

Nik Software Color Efex Pro 3.0
Nik Software Color Efex Pro 3.0 has a full set of tools that offer both traditional and stylized effects. The complete version includes 52 filters and over 250 effects, ranging from Glamour Glow to Classical Soft Focus to Color Contrast Effects and Graduated filter effects. List Price: $299 (Complete Edition).

Nik Software Viveza

onOne Software PhotoTune 2

Nik Software Viveza allows very specific and targeted adjustments to your photo without using layers or layer masks. You don’t even have to understand them. Viveza lets you click on something, then set the controls to favor it and nearby areas for adjustment as needed. List Price: $149.

onOne Software PhotoTune 2 is one of the easiest-to-use exposure and color-correction tools that you’ll find anywhere. If you’ve ever struggled with Photoshop or Photoshop Elements adjustments as you try to perfect an image, this may be the plug-in you need. It includes automated adjustment features, as well as manual controls that are fast and easy to understand. List Price: $159.

Tiffen Dfx Digital Filter Suite
Most specialty software focuses on just one aspect of photo enhancement. Tiffen Dfx Digital Filter Suite is different, bundling many of the capabilities of these single-purpose applications into a suite of tools that includes over 2,000 filters and special effects. Available as a standalone program or as a plug-in for Adobe Photoshop or Apple Aperture, Dfx V2.0 adds layer and masking capabilities, too. You’ll find all sorts of filter effects that mimic traditional photo filters, such as Black Pro-Mist or Polarizer, plus unique lighting effect algorithms such as Light/Gobo. It also includes tools for cloning, red-eye removal and batch processing, as well as nondestructive cropping, rotating and scaling. Practically everything you’ll want to do with a photo is possible with Dfx. List Price: From $149.

Picture Window Pro 5.0

Nikon Capture NX 2
Picture Window Pro 5.0 is more of a full-featured image editor than a highly specialized application, but its unique approach and broad set of creative tools—like HDR compositing and a suite of special effects—make it worth noting here. This program is Windows-only, but for the sheer power and breadth of tools, it’s tough to beat at a list price of $89.

The power of Nikon Capture NX 2 is in the Control Points. Instead of using complicated masks to apply image corrections, simply drop Control Points onto problem areas and use simple sliders to refine the effects. Control Points can be set to apply their effects to the selected area only or to the entire image except for that area. Effects include Nikon’s own D-Lighting exposure enhancements, focus controls, noise reduction, sharpening and more. Capture NX 2 also includes organizational solutions like labeling and rating, plus tools to control lens distortions and chromatic aberration. List Price: $179.


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