Sunday, September 30, 2007

Buyer's Guide 2008: Software Plug-Ins

While you can do just about anything to an image with Photoshop, some tasks can be fairly labor-intensive or tricky to accomplish unless you know exactly what to do.
By Dave Willis Published in Plug-Ins
Buyer's Guide 2008: Software Plug-Ins

PhotoTune Test Strip Proofer

Printing can often come down to guesswork unless you take the time to proof. An image may look wonderful on your screen, but then look considerably different in the print.

Make a printed proof of color variations, choose the best printed selection and calibrate your digital image automatically with PhotoTune's Test Strip Proofer. The Home edition prepares horizontal and vertical test strips in sizes from 4x5 inches to 12x15 inches. Test Strip Proofer Pro also offers horizontal and vertical sizes, continuing up to 36x45 inches, and includes a selection of wide proofs between 16 to 43 inches wide. List Price: $59 (Home); $129 (Pro).

PictureCode Noise Ninja 2.1.3

Camera sensors with high sensitivity are necessary to produce great images in low-light or fast-action situations. Unfortunately, when you boost a sensor's sensitivity, you're also boosting its noise levels, appearing as random, grain-like artifacts within the image. Though many cameras have on-board noise reduction, it often softens the detail of the image, as well.

PictureCode Noise Ninja 2.1.3 removes noise through automatic noise analysis, camera-specific profiling, batch processing and a Noise Brush that selectively adds or removes the effects of noise reduction in the luminance, chroma or color channels. Color components of the image are filtered separately from luminance channels for superior results. Manual control is available. List Price: $79 (Pro Bundle, plug-in); $69 (Pro Standalone)—both 16-bit TIFF output; $44 (Home Bundle, plug-in); $34 (Home Standalone)—both 8-bit TIFF output.

Vertus Fluid Mask 3

Masking portions of an image in Photoshop is often a necessary, but time-consuming task. By doing so, you can cut and paste aspects of an image into other images or selectively restrict image manipulation to one area. The potential is powerful, but the time it takes to outline a subject, especially a complex one like hair or tree leaves, can be as dull as driving in traffic.

Revamped for more powerful and accurate blending, faster speed and streamlined ease of use, Vertus Fluid Mask 3 separates difficult subjects from difficult backgrounds. Instinctive deciphering of the width and character of edges easily isolates complex textures and patterns. Features include feather blending, a 2D Color Workspace and a Color Sampler for fine-tuned, color-based mask selection. List Price: $239.

PictoColor inCamera 4.5

Differences in the ways that monitors, cameras and scanners capture and display color can range wildly with each image you shoot. There are a variety of color-correction tools available to fix this problem, but sometimes all you need is a program.

PictoColor inCamera 4.5 uses color management to achieve consistent and predictable color from any variety of digital cameras and scanners. The intuitive interface and user guide make creation and use of input profiles in Photoshop much simpler than it sounds. inCamera evaluates captured color data, compares it to known color values and then creates custom ICC profiles. From there, the profile can be applied to images shot or scanned to correct color distortion. List Price: $199.
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