Top positive review
8 people found this helpful
A very specialized and powerful tool for the busy portrait photographer
on February 27, 2013
Portrait Professional takes a unique approach to editing pictures of people. Where a typical image editing suite gives you a toolbox and various methods to apply them to the image, editing an image in PP11 is a two-part process. The first step is selecting the boundaries of the face. It does an excellent job of auto-detecting eyes, lips, and noses, though sometimes it can be difficult to get a good draw on the jawline, especially if it's a 3/4 shot where the jawline disappears into the neck and cheek. You spend some time adjusting the blue boundary lines and hit the space bar to move on.
The next screen is where you do all of your adjusting. Having told the program where the facial features are, it can intelligently present you with sections of adjustments for skin processing, eyeball fixin', lip adjusting, hair coloring, and just about anything else you can think of. There's even a slider to make your subject appear more tan. You can shorten someone's nose, pull in sagging cheeks, change the color of someone's eyes... there's a lot you can do in here. Of course, it's easy to go overboard, but the real power of Portrait Professional 11 comes when it's used responsibly. Starting from a preset with no facial structure adjustments, and minimal skin processing, you can take a look at your image and decide what needs addressing, one element at a time.
One area that the program absolutely shines is in skin processing. Whereas the skin smoothing feature on most image processing suites is just a blur tool with edge detection, PP11 is able to use what it knows about the subject's face to keep shadows and highlights and contours where they ought to be. The basic skin smoothing adjustment looks similar to what I've gotten from spending 20+ minutes adjusting layers and blending options in Photoshop, only this gets it done in seconds, and it looks totally natural.
As thrilled as I am with the image editing capabilities, I'm also very glad to see that a good amount of thought went into the file management aspect of things as well. With this Studio version, you can open RAW files directly. The last group of adjustment sliders is called Picture Control, and allows you to adjust white balance, exposure, contrast, vibrance and tone curve. While this may not eliminate the need for a host program like Aperture or Lightroom, it's good to see that you can do a fair amount of editing right in-program. You even get the ability to save each picture as a project file, making it very easy to come back and change one of your adjustments and re-save. This is akin to having a PSD file where you can go back and fiddle with the individual layers. I can't tell you how many times I've done a ton of edits to an image in Nik, only to realize that I missed or screwed up one aspect and have no way to go back and re-tweak it. This will save you at least once.
This is an incredibly smart and powerful program, and I heartily recommend it to anyone dealing with portrait work.
edit: One thing that does bother me, however, is that if you have the Studio version, presets made in the plugin version do not carry over to the standalone version and vice-versa. I also don't see any way to save/export presets, so it may not be possible to use a setting that you made in plugin mode appear when you want to do the same thing as a batch job.