Verdict: 3 stars Sharpener Pro’s output sharpening tools are a reminder that images need to be optimised to look their best on different printers, and at different sizes. However, its ‘capture sharpening’ tools feel like they’re just a little too late in the workflow, when most of us would apply sharpening during RAW processing, or in the ‘host’ application used to launch Sharpener Pro.
Life after Photoshop software reviews
Choosing the right software isn't easy and you often have to try quite a few different applications to find the ones that suit you. We're all looking for different things, and quite often a single piece of software won't do everything that we need.
Some people simply want a Photoshop replacement without the subscription payments, some want an image cataloguing tool that can also carry out photo enhancements, some primarily want an image effects tool for crafting a very particular 'look'. Most of us want a bit of all of these things.
• Always download the trial version if there is one. My best guess at what photographers need is not necessarily right for you.
These reviews are designed not just to see whether the software out there is any good or not, but to explain exactly what it does and how it might fit into your workflow.
I don't review every program out there, only those which I personally consider add something significant to the image-editing process. There are some notable and quite possibly very popular programs not in my review list but that's because – and I don't want to upset any publishers out there – I don't think they're different enough, interesting enough or just plain good enough.
Verdict: 2.5 stars Dfine feels like an old-fashioned solution to a problem that has changed. There are now many ways of controlling noise in-camera or in RAW software, and the real issue these days is not just finding a tool that can do it well, but doing it at the right point in your workflow.
Verdict: 3.5 stars Viveza is a great tool for making fast and effective adjustments to colour images, but it now feels a bit redundant. The Nik Collection’s other creative plug-ins come with equally powerful control point corrections of their own, as does DxO PhotoLab Essential, the Nik Collection’s new ‘host’ program.
Verdict: 4 stars HDR Efex Pro 2 manages to make HDR relatively easy, and it produces ‘good’ HDR which is dynamic, rich and exciting. It still wraps it up in a bit too much jargon, but it does produce a good variety of ready-made HDR presets so that you don’t have to get caught up in the manual adjustments if you don’t want to.
The name is the same, but despite the apparent similarities, these are two very different programs. So what are the key differences between Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic CC, and how do you choose which one to use?
Verdict: 5 stars . Colour Efex Pro initially looks a little dated, but dig deeper and you’ll find its best filters are very useful indeed and the ability to combine filters into Recipes dramatically expands its potential.
Verdict: 5 stars For fans of black and white photography, Silver Efex Pro is just superb. It recreates the depth, intensity and ’soul’ of black and white in a way few other tools approach.
Verdict: 4.5 stars Aurora HDR 2019 can create dense, wild and dramatic HDR effects, natural-looking images, and anything in between, and with out the ‘glow’ effects and other artefacts that plague other HDR tools. It also goes way further, with local adjustments, even image layers and masks. Brilliant.
Verdict: 4 stars Lightroom has become a standard tool for a large number of photographers and it does streamline the organisation and editing of large numbers of photos. But while it’s powerful and effective, its raw processing is not the best and its organisational system can feel quite awkward.
Verdict: 4 stars Where is Adobe actually going with Lightroom CC? Its cloud-based storage is convenient, but locks you into Adobe’s expensive storage subscription, and even now it lacks some of the features of Lightroom Classic CC with no clear sign it will ever fully catch up. And yet its stripped back interface and all-your-images-editable-everywhere approach is definitely quite compelling.