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Cyberlink PhotoDirector 4 Ultra review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £80
inc VAT

A strong set of features, but inconsistencies in exports let existing users down

Cyberlink might not be the first name people think of for photo management and editing, but this relative newcomer has been able to study the market for inspiration and opportunities. In practice, this boils down to liberal imitation of Adobe Lightroom’s raw-development tools alongside features that normally appear in layer-based editors, such as creative effects and the ability to cut out and combine objects. It’s a promising package for people who don’t want to have to fork out for two separate applications and constantly switch between them.

Tagging people is faster than before, thanks to face detection. It’s triggered manually per folder and means that Facebook uploads have tags already in place, although they don’t link through to friends’ Facebook accounts. Managing our photo library was generally pretty slick, but it sometimes kept us waiting for a few seconds. Thumbnails could be slow to appear, and options to filter by ratings or metadata are slow to access.

Cyberlink PhotoDirector 4 Ultra HDR
The new HDR Effect produces dramatic tones without the hassle of capturing multiple exposures

The new HDR Effect boosts the contrast relative to nearby pixels to give dramatic, punchy colours – and effect normally associated with combining bracketed photos. This version only works from a single photo but it was extremely effective at accentuating subtle details in clouds and undergrowth, and the controls are straightforward and responsive.

Chromatic aberration removal has also been added, but this fiddly process must be performed manually for each photo. We haven’t got the patience, especially when Lightroom does it automatically for both chromatic aberrations and lens distortions.

PhotoDirector 3 introduced a range of digital makeover tools such as Skin Smoother, Wrinkle Remover and Tooth Brush. Version 4 continues with a Body Shaper tool. It uses a combination of mesh warp and something akin to Photoshop’s Liquify tool to sculpt flabby, saggy bodies into Godlike physiques. As before, the moral implications of including this in consumer software are disastrous but we must admit that it’s well implemented. It’s fine for a bit of a giggle but anyone using it in all seriousness opens themselves up to ridicule.

Cyberlink PhotoDirector 4 Ultra Content Aware Removal
Content Aware Removal often (but not always) works a treat

Also new is Content Aware Removal, which removes objects from photos by cloning material from elsewhere – it’s essentially the same as Photoshop Elements’ Content-Aware Fill. As with Adobe’s version, it struggled to reconstruct manmade objects convincingly but proved extremely effective for less structured textures.

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