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Special-Duty Software

Check out these programs that will help you get more from your digital photography

This Article Features Photo Zoom

The Photoshop plug-in market is huge and way beyond what we can cover here. Nearly all of these programs also work with Photoshop Elements, and many work with Apple Aperture and Photoshop Lightroom as export plug-ins. Here are a few of the top plug-ins to give you an idea of what’s available.

onOne PhotoTune 3 now is 64-bit-compatible. It’s still one of the easiest-to-use exposure and color-correction tools that you’ll find anywhere. It includes automated adjustment features, as well as manual controls that are fast and intuitive. List Price: $159.

Nik Software Color Efex Pro 3.0 continues to offer a full set of tools that feature over 250 traditional and stylized effects. The program is photographer-friendly, with controls such as Graduated Filter, High Key and Tonal Contrast. List Price: $299 (Complete Edition).

Nik Software Viveza 2 is known for its ability to make specific and localized changes to your photo without using layers or layer masks. It also includes Structure, an amazing midtone contrast control that does wonders for nature, travel and landscape photography. List Price: $199.


ACDSee Pro 3 is a complete organizational and workflow solution that has been upgraded with faster RAW image processing, more customization options and expanded online functionality. Making better use of the background task engine when processing large RAW files, you can easily and quickly import and keep images organized, and even make key adjustments. ACDSee Online, which connects to a free 2 GB account for storing and sharing images online without leaving the app, now also features a printing service, allowing you to make high-quality prints. Estimated Street Price: $169.

Alien Skin has a number of special-effects software plug-ins. Eye Candy 6 is a set of 30 plug-ins and 1,500 presets that gives you all sorts of special effects, from unique textures to natural effects like smoke and fire. List Price: $249.

Tiffen has long been known for its optical photo filters. Its Dfx software, Version 2, includes a large set of over 2,000 digital filters and special effects. These filters work in Photoshop and Aperture, as well as video-editing software such as Final Cut Pro and After Effects. It’s not just filters, though—this software is impressive in the scope of what it can do and the range of tools it offers in a single program, including layering and masking. Dfx v2 is also available as a standalone application. In addition, Tiffen offers Dfx Essentials, a lower-priced (and simpler) version of the program that includes 37 individual filters and effects, as well as hundreds of built-in presets. List Price: $149.

Cool edges make for great prints, and you can find over 1,100 frames to combine, modify and apply to your photos with onOne PhotoFrame 4.5. This 64-bit-capable program lets you add frames and edges quickly and in real time. List Price: $159.

AutoFX has a whole range of special-effects plug-ins. Its new Mystical Focus is 64-bit-compatible and offers a fascinating collection of photorealistic focus and blur effects, including looks like shallow depth of field, soft focus, panning motion and even a paint-on selective-focus effect. There are hundreds of preset effects that give you a starting point to work from. List Price: $149.

For fast, smart portrait retouching, it’s hard to beat Portrait Professional 9, which uses a database of facial profiles to automatically adjust face shape, flesh tone, skin, eyes, teeth, lighting and blemishes. A slider system allows you to subtly add or reduce changes manually. Version 9 adds ClearSkin technology for maintaining skin texture after enhancement. There’s also a new intelligent touch-up brush for skin-defect detection. It’s available as a standalone program or as a plug-in for Photoshop. Estimated Street Price: $99.

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