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Software Reviews

OnOne Plug-In Suite 5 Review

Ernesto Santos (esantos)


Keywords: onone, photoshop, plugin, ononesoftware, software, postprocessing

Show pages (8 Pages)

plugin-suite-5-300


Products:

  • Genuine Fractals 6 – Resizing tool
  • MaskPro 4 – Masking tool to remove unwanted backgrounds
  • PhotoTune 3 – Color correction tool
  • FocalPoint 2 – Selective focus tool
  • PhotoTools 2.5 – Professional retouching tool
  • PhotoFrame 4.5 – Digital custom framing tool

 System Requirements:

 

Apple Mac OS X

Microsoft Windows

Operating System

Mac OS X 10.5 or 10.6

Windows XP, Vista, or 7

Processor

PowerPC or Intel

Pentium 4 w/SSE3 support or equiv.

Memory

2 GB RAM – 3GB HD space

2 GB RAM – 3GB HD space

Display

OpenGL 2.0 capable video card w/ 128MB VRAM  - minimum resolution 1024x768

OpenGL 2.0 capable video card w/ 128MB VRAM  - minimum resolution 1024x768

Required Host Application

Adobe Photoshop CS2, CS3, or CS4

Adobe Photoshop CS2, CS3, or CS4

Optional Host Applications

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2

Apple Aperture 2.1

(requires Photoshop for either)

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2

(requires Photoshop)

On One Software has a tag line for their newest plug-in suite for Photoshop. “Solve the Six Most Common Problems in Photoshop”, it says. Hmmm, are there really only six common problems that we, as daring digital photographers, encounter in our favorite editing program Photoshop? I'll always remember how overwhelmed I felt when I first encountered the enormous learning curve facing me dead in the eye that first time I double-clicked the Photoshop icon sitting on my Windows desktop. Back then there were not just six problems for me, there were, it seemed, hundreds. Where would I begin? There were so many panels and tools, menu choices, adjustment sliders, and that HUGE, empty workspace in the middle of it all. It was as big as the Delphic Expanse from the Star Trek series, or so it seemed.


 

Well, as I started testing this suite of plug-ins I came to realize that there really are six common issues the photographer will encounter eventually. You may not need to apply these tools to every one of your images but over the course of processing even possibly one series of photos I would bet that you will need to address the issues these plug-ins are designed to correct. So let’s get started and see what they do independently and together as a holistic approach to a solid post processing workflow.

 


Genuine Fractals has been around for some time now and it has a long standing reputation of doing a great job of addressing the number one issue we all face. Here's the problem with digitally processing photographs from digital captures: How do you enlarge to the larger print sizes what is arguably a very small image while maintaining adequate print resolution (e.g. 300 pixels per inch)? The answer is that you must resample the pixel array to arrive at the target resolution while enlarging the image to make large prints. Adobe Photoshop has their bicubic enlargement algorithms and On One uses fractals. While both methods are very effective for smaller enlargements, it is a well documented fact that fractal re-sampling will give you better results with the larger sizes. To test this I took an image from a 12.3 megapixel DSLR with lots of detail and resized it to a print size of 40 inches x 60 inches at a resolution of 360 ppi.

You can access Genuine Fractals from the main Photoshop menu by going to File > Automate > Genuine Fractals. Make sure you have an image open and if it contains layers that you select the background layer. By the way, this is a good time to tell you that GF supports layered files. You can resize your image and the plug-in will keep the layers intact. Be aware though that if you choose to use the gallery wrap feature, which I'll discuss a little later, it will flatten the file during processing.

genuine_fractals_01

Here is the interface once you open Genuine Fractals. I think this is a great interface with a very clean and simple look reminiscent of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. On the left you'll see preview window where you can easily zoom in or out of the image. On the right are your input panels. Here you simply enter the output size you want and the resolution. Aside from this you can adjust texture (used to control how textured surfaces are preserved and enhanced) and add sharpening and film grain.

Two other features worth noting here are the ability to resize for specific applications. Canvas inkjet prints are all the rage right now and On One has been thoughtful enough to include a great feature for this type of print. You can scale your image to accommodate a very popular method of framing canvas prints – the gallery wrap. With this feature you can add to the borders of the image additional printed area to cover the part of the canvas that will be "wrapped" around the stretcher bars of the canvas frame. With this option you are given several choices of effects such as "reflect" or "stretch". This will determine how the image elements will be repeated over the wrap areas of the canvas. There is also a tiling feature which will section your enlarged image into equally sized tiles with or without overlap. This is great when you need to print a very big mural and you are limited by the carriage width of your printer. You can enter how big you want the tiles to be and whether you want some overlap at the seams and Genuine Fractals handles the rest. It divides the image into equally sized tiles that you can then print on your printer and then assemble on your wall. Now that we have a basic idea of how Genuine Fractals works let's look at the results.


 

As I mentioned earlier I chose an image with a lot of fine detail to test this plug-in. It's the image shown above in the preview window, which is an old historical pump house in south Texas. I enlarged this image with adjustment layers to a size of 40x60 inches. I then enlarged a second copy using Photoshop's bicubic smoother as a comparison. I also conducted the same test using a target size of 12x18 inches to see if GF was any better than bicubic at the smaller sizes. As I suspected I could not detect any noticeable advantage by using GF on the smaller size. This is not a knock on the plug-in, it simply confirms my suspicions that fractal technology doesn't come into its own until you really start getting big. Nevertheless, the fact that you can add sharpening and optimize for the textures in your image is a big plus for Genuine Fractals. The ability to also target your enlargement to a specific output like gallery wraps is also a big advantage.

Below you can see the results of my test with the 40x60 enlargement. I am including two sets of comparative 100% crops of the image done in Genuine Fractals and the one done in Photoshop.

genuine_fractals_02

Take a look at the lettering on the sign and the ridges of the corrugated tin siding. Notice the better defined edges, the increased texture, and the lack of overall softness with the GF sample. If you look closely at the light fixtures you can even see better definition in the lit filaments. This is truly amazing when you consider that this part of the image is in the far away background where it is hardly even visible when the image is viewed full length on my 24" monitor!

genuine_fractals_03

Now, let's look at a second sample. Again, the improved details of the siding is easy to see and if you look at the Texas state historical sign you can pick up the improvement in details there too. Now look at the foliage. The Photoshop bicubic sample is muddy compared to that from Genuine Fractals. The shaded areas of the leaves are better rendered giving more depth.

I should note that when I processed these images I did not apply any sharpening or any other element of post processing that might affect the direct results. I would think that with the use of sharpening the end product would be even that much better. So now we have a great way to resize images to really large sizes. Let's move on to problem number 2.


There is probably no more difficult, frustrating, and time consuming task in Photoshop than creating a complicated layer mask around a component of an image that you want to isolate. I've tried many methods and even use a precise graphics tablet to help me. The ugly truth is that unless the area I want to mask is relatively simple with no fine lines like hair blowing in the wind or tree branches I won't even bother. Hey, life's too short.

So to my surprise I was impressed with how MaskPro 4 works. I had never tried anything like this before; I had always just struggled along in Photoshop alone. Since I was new to this type of plug-in I decided to go to the On One web site and view the instructional videos found there. As soon as I saw how it works in the video demonstration I was really anxious to try it. You see, I'll be honest, the reason I never had tried anything like this was because I thought it had to be a gimmick. I guess I had become jaded by all those hours hunched over my Wacom tablet masking by hand.

mask_pro_01

As I looked through my catalog for a good set of images to use as a test I came across this one of a bald eagle perched on a branch. I had always liked this shot because of the eagle's regal pose, but I hated the dull sky. This would be a perfect image to test MaskPro because of the many thin branches, and if MaskPro could handle this it could handle anything. I then looked around in my collection for a replacement background and found a nice blue sky with some interesting cloud formations.

The first thing you want to do before you even launch MaskPro 4 is to create one layered image out of the two you want to blend. In Photoshop simply drag the background image onto the foreground image. Hold down the Shift key as you click and drag to ensure that both images will be exactly centered with each other. Before you do this you'll want to color correct the images and bring both to near their final state so that the color detection process in MaskPro will work more accurately. When the layered image is ready start the MaskPro plug-in. The image comes on screen in the MaskPro interface. The interface consists of a preview window, a tool panel, and three panels that contain the "keep" colors, the "drop" colors, and a panel to control the selected tool – typically a brush.

Now, here is how MaskPro works. The plug-in requires that you first select what it calls the green sample tool from the tool panel. This eye dropper tool will be used to sample colors directly from the image, and the technique here is to sample the colors near the edges that you want the masking process to keep. Click on a branch and the plug-in samples the color of that branch and stores it in the "Keep" colors panel. To complete this first step go around the whole area you want to mask until you get a good representation of those colors. You don't have to worry too much about getting ALL the colors as you can always fine tune the mask by re-sampling as you go along.

Once you have completed this task you then select the red sample tool, red representing the colors you want to get rid of. You repeat the process as with the "keep" colors except that this time you click on the colors of the part of the image you want to drop. Conversely, as you sample these colors they are stored in the "Drop" panel. If you are replacing a dull sky like I am in this example you won't need to sample too many areas. If you are looking to replace a background with a lot of color variation you will need to increase the number of samplings to get a good, accurate mask.


 

By now you should be getting an idea of how this plug-in works. By selecting a variety of color shades for the keep and drop panels you are providing the software with the information it needs to make comparisons between these colors pixel by pixel and mapping out a very accurate layer mask/selection. Because the plug-in uses the mathematical differences between these shades it is infinitely more precise than even the steadiest hand using the most precise user input tools. Another great feature of the plug-in is that it uses a decontamination process as well. As it encounters pixels that have a glow or reflection of the surrounding colors that are to be removed it corrects this contamination. The result is a more realistic blending. For example, let's say you are trying to remove a background with a lot of green grass and want to add a new background of a bright blue sky. Your main subject happens to be a child romping around with her hair blowing in the wind. Since the hair is caught suspended in space as she is photographed running it will contain reflections of the green grass in the background. MaskPro detects this color contamination and removes it so that when the background is replaced with a bright blue sky you don't see a ghostly green cast in that element. Believe me it makes a BIG difference.

Here now is a screen shot of MaskPro 4 in action. In this illustration I have already sampled the keep and drop colors, I've selected the "magic brush" as my painting tool, and I made sure I clicked on the decontamination box in the tool adjustment panel on the top right of the screen. I also show a small area where the mask has already been applied using the magic brush.

mask_pro_02

Here are a few things to note about the interface. You have several viewing choices as you create the mask. You can view in Original, Solid Background, Transparent, Single Layer, Mask, Clean Up, and Composite modes. Describing each one of these choices would, I'm afraid, take up too much space in this review. I recommend going to the On One website and viewing the "Basic Use – The 90% Rule" video tutorial to get a complete explanation. The mode you see in this demonstration is the Transparent Mode. Additionally, there are several ways to eliminate the unwanted areas of your composite image. On One provides brushes, pens, an air brush, and a paint bucket. I only used the Magic Brush which the tutorial states will be the tool of choice 90% of the time, but it is good to know that On One has provided several useful tools to get the job done quickly and efficiently.

Here is an image with all the old background painted away and the final bald eagle portrait with a new beautiful blue sky in the background.

mask_pro_03

mask_pro_03


We are now on to problem #3 - color correction. While On One refers to color correction as "one problem" we all know it is an issue that can be made up of a multitude of challenges. PhotoTune 3 is built to handle most of them and is a very powerful tool. You could take care of most post processing tasks a photographer would usually encounter just with this one plug-in. Let's dive in and work on a couple of problem images.

 

PhotoTune 3 offers you three basic modes in which to run the plug-in. As is the usual case you open the image you want to color correct in Photoshop and launch the plug-in from the Photoshop menu. When it opens you are presented with this opening screen.

photo_tune_01

As you can see you have a choice of using a wizard or you can go straight into Pro Mode. Within the wizard you have two choices "Images With People" and "Images Without People". PhotoTune needs to know if people are the main subject because it uses a specific set of instructions and algorithms to correct color for skin tones. In Pro Mode you get the usual sliders interface where you can adjust individual color tones, convert to black and white, and adjust contrast and brightness. Since this is not much different than any other photo adjustment tool I'd like to concentrate on the wizard mode for this review as this is where we see a whole new and interesting approach.

 

 

Once you open your file, launch PhotoTune, and select the type of image you are working with, you are taken to a window where you will see the first adjustment screen. Here is a picture of my wife having lunch at the Zion National Park Lodge in the opening screen of PhotoTune. This is where you will make adjustments to contrast.

photo_tune_02

Notice at the bottom center there is a short explanation of what is going on on-screen and what is required of you. When using the wizard PhotoTune automatically makes adjustments based on the image colors and then providing you with the option to fine tune those adjustments with a slider. With PhotoTune a before-and-after process is used throughout. The user must either adjust a single slider or pick between two choices – either the image on the left or the image on the right. Once you are satisfied you click on either the left or right image to advance that image to the next step of the color correction workflow. If you need to go back and readjust a previous setting you simply use the two directional arrows between the step numbers at the bottom left corner.

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photo_tune_03

Here is the image with the contrast adjusted. All I have to do now to move ahead is to click on the image on the right. The next screen gives you a "before" color correction on the left and an "after" color correction on the right. Here the interaction is simple, click on the image that looks the best. Don't worry if Aunt Beth still looks a little green, we will get a chance to fix that later. The next screen is used to adjust the brightness of the image and has a single slider just like the contrast adjustment screen. In this example I left it at the default setting.

photo_tune_04

So now in step four you are asked to sample, using the eye dropper tool, an area of skin that represents a mid-tone. You do not want to sample the nose or the cheek bone areas since they may contain highlights nor do you want to pick any part of the skin that is shaded. A good location is usually the forehead area as seen here. Once you have sampled the skin you can use the slider to make fine adjustments. If you are not satisfied you can re-sample the skin as many times as you want until you get it just right.

photo_tune_05

As the last step in the process you are given the choice to add sharpening. If you prefer to sharpen with another tool, no problem, just click on the left side image.

photo_tune_06

Here is the final result, an excellent job that requires no knowledge of color theory whatsoever. It did a great job of rescuing my wife from that unflattering red cast - now let's see what it can do with a landscape image.

photo_tune_07

This time when I launched PhotoTune I chose "Images Without People" in the opening screen and up came the familiar contrast adjustment screen. Here in this screen shot you can see that I added about 30% more contrast using the slider adjustment.

photo_tune_08

Advancing on to step two PhotoTune again auto corrects color for you. The plug-in did a good job of adjusting away most of the reddish cast in this late winter shot of the Green River at Canyonlands National Park. Notice how PhotoTune has the intelligence to adjust the tones of the desert rock and not the magenta tones of the early morning sky.

photo_tune_09

On this screen we adjust the brightness of the image. I bumped it up just a bit to open up the shadows inside the canyon walls.

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photo_tune_10

Finally, we get to the last screen where we can evaluate the new image compared to the original. The results are obvious and dramatic. Another Photoshop problem solved. What takes many steps and many minutes in Photoshop in the traditional manner only took a minute or two in PhotoTune and the quality of the end results are very good. If you trust your eye's ability to discern basic color differences PhotoTune is the tool that will give you the results you want without having to spend hours learning color correction the traditional way. And for those who are more adept at this process the Pro Mode has a great set of tools and features. Three problems solved and three to go. Let's move on, I'm starting to believe On One's claim that it can solve the six most common problems in Photoshop.


On One's next trick in its bag of plug-ins is FocalPoint 2 a cool tool that allows you to apply selective focus on any image. Of all the optical effects that we can use in photography my favorite has always been using depth of field to isolate or accentuate the main subject. Most DSLR camera and lens manufacturers offer fast aperture lenses. These top quality optical instruments are known not only for their ability to work well in low light situations but they usually offer superior blurring effects often referred to "bokeh" a Japanese term meaning blur or haze. The mark of a good photographer is his/her ability to use selective focus to enhance their images. The problem with this is that the lenses with the most pleasing bokeh are also the most expensive to produce.

FocalPoint 2 is a great alternative for those who want to use selective focus but don't have the means to acquire fast lenses or for those who have no choice but to apply it in post process. Regardless of the situation, if you need to add some selective depth of field to your shots FocalPoint can do the job. Let's take a look at one example.

focal_point_01

Here is the opening screen when you access FocalPoint 2 from the Photoshop menu. By now these interfaces should be familiar to you, preview image on the left, tool panels on the right. FocalPoint works in two general ways. One is to apply blurring using what On One calls its FocusBug, which you can see as the white circle with radiating control points in the image above. The other tool is the FocusBrush which gives you the ability to paint in any amount of blur or focus in any part of the image. These tools are infinitely adjustable with either the sliders in the tool panels or with the control points. In this example I'm going to try and add some selective blurring to add some interest to this image of a Spanish mission at dusk.

 

 

The first step is to drag the FocusBug to the area you want to keep in focus. In this case I want to make the towering saguaro cactus the main point of the picture so let's start there. Once you have the FocusBug where you want it you can opt to either use a circular or planer shaped mask. For the cactus it was obvious a planer (rectangular) mask would work best.

focal_point_02

As you can see here, when you select Planar under the FocusBug Shape menu the FocusBug on the image changes to a square.

focal_point_03

Here now you can see that as I drag and drop the control point that is used to adjust the width you are provided with a wire mesh representation of the mask. By adjusting one of the other control points you can adjust the amount of blur and add a vignette if you want. You can also rotate the mask by clicking and dragging to better fit the mask to the area you are working on.

focal_point_04

Here is the blur effect after adding the first FocusBug, so far so good. Now, since the lantern is just about on the same focus plane as the cactus we need to address bringing it back into focus. The best way to do this is to add a second FocusBug. Ahhh, you didn't think you could add a second FocusBug, did you? Well you can. Actually up to a total of six FocusBugs in one image. Pretty sweet, huh?

focal_point_05

Here is the second FocusBug added only this time I used the circular type, I think it works better for this part of the image. So now I have an image where the cactus is in focus, the background is out of focus, and I have added a second FocusBug to bring the lantern and its pedestal back into focus. The problem now is that one, the stucco wall is now back in focus as is the balcony of the mission, and two, I really liked the effect of the soft focus on the lantern itself and I'd like to keep that look. The answer here is to pull up the FocusBrush and paint those back in. What I like about the FocusBrush is that you can adjust the amount that you paint back in so it is totally controlled by you. If you can work a brush in Photoshop, this will be very familiar to you.

focal_point_06

Here's what I came up with after brushing back into focus the lantern pedestal and the stucco wall. I then added the blur effect back onto the balcony and around the arms of the saguaro where the tower is in the background.

focal_point_07

I think FocalPoint 2 is probably my favorite of the 5 plug-ins in this suite. I like the way it works and it is effective and easy to learn. There are a lot of features I didn't touch on here, but to name a couple there are also presets that you can use for special effects and there is also a choice to emulate the bokeh of specific lenses from Nikon, Canon, and others.


Remember when I said early in this report that there are hundreds of things to learn in Photoshop? And how I squawked incredulously that On One would address all your post processing needs and the six most common problems with just six plug-ins? Well they were right and I was wrong.

Welcome to PhotoTools 2 Professional Edition. Here in one plug-in is a staggering number of special effects that you can easily apply to your images. Yes, there are hundreds of tips, tricks, and methods to learn in Photoshop and I wasn't wrong in saying that. The good news is that it would take you literally years to learn how to apply all these special effects - PhotoTools 2 does it in minutes. On One has put them all at your fingertips and the best part about it is that you can use these effects in combination with each other by stacking them. Another great feature is that you can download additional effects created by the community of users, just in case for some crazy reason you can't find what you need in the pre-installed effects. It 's called the On One Exchange and it is a wonderful resource for PhotoTools users to share their presets by downloading other's creations and uploading yours.

In the review of this plug-in I am going to show you how I converted one image using three effects in PhotoTools 2. Seriously, there are so many effects in this package that it would take me months to test them all, and frankly, I don't think you want me to take up that much of your time. Let me just say this. These are top quality professional effects. I have seen many Photoshop actions and scripts used to create photo or graphics effects. I have also played around with many different techniques. Some are good, some are excellent, and those I keep in my arsenal, but many, many, are just plain bad. Cheesy doesn't even begin to describe how bad some are. Well, not so for the effects that come with PhotoTools 2. First of all, a lot of these effects have been created by true professionals and leaders in their field. You get a number of effects from the likes of Photoshop Hall of Famer Jack Davis and world renowned wedding and portrait artist Kevin Kubota. In my opinion there is one distinguishing mark of a good Photoshop effect, and that is subtlety. An effect should enhance the image, it should add and not take away from the mood you are trying to convey. Best of all the effect should be flexible when appropriate. You should always have the ability to localize it, change opacities, and easily blend it with other artistic expression. I think you will find these characteristics to be the hallmark of the effects in this plug-in. Let me show you what I was able to achieve in just a few minutes.

photo_tools_01

Some time ago I visited some of the historic plantations outside of New Orleans, Louisiana. While I toured the grounds I saw the stately mansions, the work buildings, and unfortunately, the slave quarters. Although the mansions were beautiful I found the work buildings and slave quarters to be so much more interesting in their poignancy. I took this shot above of one of the work buildings where some of the cooking took place back in the day. I thought I had a decent image here; I liked the pottery, the play of the angles, and the old faded curtain blowing in the breeze, but there was something lacking. In full color it just didn't give me enough excitement.

As I looked through my catalog it caught my eye again and I immediately ran it through PhotoTools 2 knowing I could experiment with all those effects. There had to be one (or a few) that would put the final touches on this one. Running PhotoTools is easy. Many of the effects can be applied using the familiar brush (called the MaskingBrush in this plug-in) and the FocusBug brought over from FocalPoint - only here it's called the MaskingBug. The other effects are simply applied globally and you adjust the opacity as if it were on a Photoshop layer. The last thing the user needs to know is that you can stack effects, up to 16 on one image, to create your own personal effect. You can even save this stack and call it your own, for future use. Pretty wild huh?


 

So with that said here is the first effect I applied to the pottery shot. I wanted to give the image a sort of ragged, de-saturated and tinted look. Not quite like an old Tintype print but something that hinted at it. I also wanted to enhance the window and the curtain blowing in the breeze, but I'll work on that later. I used the effect called Wow Tint – Muted Brown to give me that old time look of a sepia toned Tintype photograph that has been hand colorized. I think it did a great job of changing the whole look of the image. All I did here after the effect was applied was to adjust the opacity of that stack to my taste.

photo_tools_02

Next I wanted to add some more warmth to the light and not necessarily to the whole image. Ta-da! There's an effect for that. It's called, come on wait for it...yes you guessed it, Warm Highlights. I added this effect and it warmed up the light rays coming in through the window and only what was reflecting off of the pottery and the other items in the room. On this one I wanted the maximum effect so I set the Fade slider to 100%. Again, notice how these effects are subtle. No garish, over-the-top look here, just a muted believable enhancement.

photo_tools_03

The last step was to add some bloom to the window light and specifically what was shining through the gauze like texture of the old curtain. I found an effect called Light Rays and added just the right amount of glow to bring the eye to rest as it followed the line of the pottery, bouncing off the oblique angle of the corner of the room and then settling back to the center of the image.

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photo_tools_04

Here is the final conversion for your inspection. Once again I'm impressed with this plug-in. All this can be done in Photoshop manually of course, but the great advantage with PhotoTools is that you can experiment with so many treatments - all in mere seconds. If this plug-in can't help you achieve your vision I don't know what can.


Well, we are finally on the last of the six On One plug-ins. After working with PhotoTools 2 I thought we had run the gamut on post processing options and there just could not possibly be any other issues related to photographic editing in Photoshop. As I became familiar with PhotoFrame it became clear that this plug-in is not designed to address image issues, it focuses on dressing up your photos. Not being a fashion or portrait/event photographer I don't have much use for this type of image enhancement but I can appreciate the value of it. That being said I do not have a lot of shots that I think would benefit from frames treatment but I did find something that if done tastefully might work.

photo_frame_01

I took this picture of a penny farthing bicycle in the French Quarter of New Orleans a few years ago. I figured I could use PhotoFrame to make a page layout for an imaginary book of the old French Quarter. I first added a dreamy glow effect to the image in Photoshop using one of my favorite Photoshop actions. Then I created a blank canvas a little larger than the image and opened it in PhotoFrame to add one of their stock backgrounds. PhotoFrame 2 comes with a large library of backgrounds of different colors and styles. Again, I was impressed with the number of choices you get and the quality of the artwork.

photo_frame_02

Here is the canvas with the background added. After this step I flattened the layers and I was set.

photo_frame_03

The next step was to take the picture of the penny farthing and open it in PhotoFrame. Once in PhotoFrame you are taken to the library where you can choose from hundreds of frames and treatments. I chose an antique frame in keeping with the old bicycle. After you select the frame you click Apply Frame and you are on to the edit screen.

photo_frame_04

There are many things you can do to edit the frame in this section of the plug-in. As is the case with most all the other On One plug-ins the use of layers (stacks) here gives you a lot of control and options. On the left hand side you'll notice the stacks panel. By now you should have guessed that you can stack a number of frames on top of each other. You can then adjust their size, opacity, background colors, orientation, rotation, flip left and right, and up or down. You can even decide how you want each stack to import back into Photoshop. You can have it brought in as a clipping mask, layer mask, on a separate layer, so on, and so on. In the interest of keeping a very long review from getting longer I chose a simple example. After I added the frame I was ready to move back to Photoshop and finish up the project.

photo_frame_05

Once back in Photoshop I simply flattened all the layers in the bicycle image and dragged it onto the background image and arranged it in a pleasing off-center position. As you can see this would make a nice photo book image. All that's needed here is a caption. I got a very professional treatment that was completed in less than three minutes.

 


On One continues to improve its suite of plug-ins and this latest version has impressed me. Generally, I am not one to use a lot of plug-ins - simply because I have learned a number of techniques in Photoshop and what I don't know I can usually find a method in short order. After working with Plug-In Suite 5 I may just start to change my approach altogether. I expected that some of these plug-ins would give me less than professional results. This is simply not the case. The plug-ins work like professional tools and gave me great results. The modifications are subtle and in good taste and never distract from the image itself. Highly Recommended.

 

PROS

•Very versatile - can handle just about any problem or issue in an easy to learn environment.
•The application of the photo effects are done with an even hand. No over-the-top or garish results.
•Integrates well with Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, and Apple Aperture.
•The use of layers (stacks) allows the user to take total control.
•Very useful video tutorials on the On One website
•Ability to download additional frames, effects, and backgrounds from the On One Exchange website making these plug-ins truly limitless.

CONS

•Performance can be sluggish. I ran my copy on a Core 2 Quad Intel PC with 3 gigabytes of RAM with dual video cards on a dual monitor system running Microsoft Windows 7 64-bit and some plug-ins do experience measurable lag in response to user control.•PhotoFrame 2 is somewhat complicated and can take some time to learn to use effectively. This is not necessarily a negative but compared to how easy it is to use the other plug-ins On One may consider looking at ways to simplify this tool.


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Originally written on March 13, 2010

Last updated on October 16, 2014

12 comments

Daniel DiBernardo (DanielJDLM) on January 26, 2013

I just joined Nikonians, so this is probably a bit late. I can concur with Ernesto abour OnOne Software...I am using Perfect Effects 6.0...yes, I know Suite 7 is now out, but I have not upgraded. This package of effects is easy to work with and allows multiple ajustments. I hightly recommend this product to all.

User on December 29, 2010

Since Ernesto's review was written, On One has released the late upgrade named Perfect Photo Suite 5.5. Genuine Fractals has been renamed Perfect Resize 7 Professional. The PhotoFrame is now ver. 4.6 Professional Edition. It is all 64 bit compatible. I find myself using photoframes more than ever. Am becoming more of a fan of On One Software very quickly. Ernesto, now you must continue with a fresh review due to the fact this one is so well done. (smiling)

Beth Russell (Wileycoyote1) on October 10, 2010

A late to the party technical thought one that is the likely explanation to your crashing problem Ernesto. I beta tested PSCS5 and use onOne Plug-in suite 5.1 extensively. If you have software on your machine that uses Microsoft C++ libraries extensively, it almost certain, Plug-in Suite will bang heads with it. If you check your installed software and find any presence of MS C++ your problem lies there. Email onOne tech-support, They don't do phones but will respond.

Edward Overstreet (emphoto) on July 23, 2010

Question for you Ernest, did you use CS5, 32 bit? I had no complaints until CS 5. The program has been very unstable with our computers. More often than not, after making adjustments.....I click APPLY and nothing happens.....or PS crashes. Getting help is not easy either. Presently, I am not using OnOne although installed, I figure, as in the past, they will make the needed changes and send out a new release. Methinks they hurried this latest edition to market and got caught with their pants down. Also, regarding Genuine Fractals, I seem to get better prints when I "res up" in Image |Print. All versions of CS do a poor job of "res-ing up, IMHO. GF is not a whole lot better but it is better. BTW, we use the OnOne suite on three different MACs ... and the problems occur on all three computers. I also prefer the older interface. I do not like another dialog box cluttering an already busy monitor. I preferred using the Filter menu to access the suites' choices. If you use a Wacom Intuos tablet.....put the pen down and grab the mouse as making your selections with the pen is a challenge. Mask Pro is a tough program to use....the newest version of CS5 has beat it with their "Refine Edge" tool. Changing backgrounds is a snap compared to former versions of CS as well as OnOne. Extremely slow when it does work! I am sure they are working on it and a new more accommodating suite will be relassed. For now, I am dissappointed! To be sure, I need to take better images out of the camera and bypass CS and all the plugins, period.

Linda Scarbrough (Palmilla) on June 30, 2010

I purchased OnOne Plug-In Suite 5 at Photoshop world in Orlando a few months back. I have no Photoshop experience but started using this produce and immediately people were impressed with my photos... I still have lots to learn to learn in both Photoshop and OnOne, but even after reading your review Ernesto, it has helped me look in other areas of OnOne to cleanup some pretty rough beginner photos. Good Job in your review.

Steve Bilden (erpsab) on June 13, 2010

How does this compare with the Nik software package for Photoshop? Are they similar or different and in what ways?

Dan Goebel (notes386) on May 21, 2010

I am silver, do you need to be gold/platinum to get the 200 & 59.85 off for OnOne? Interested in getting it for new MacBook Pro with Aperture 3.

Ernesto Santos (esantos) on March 22, 2010

Nikonians Resources Writer. Recognized for his outstanding reviews on printers and printing articles. Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas, including Landscape Photography Awarded for his extraordinary accomplishments in Landscape Photography. His work has been exhibited at the Smithsonian. Winner of the Best of Nikonians Images 2018 Annual Photo Contest

Thank you all for the kind comments. I am glad that this review has proven to be informative.

User on March 21, 2010

Very nice job Ernesto, I have a copy of this coming from Onone on Monday. I also want to thank Nikonians for there discount. I received an email from Onone with 200.00 off the price of 599.00 with the final price of 399.00. Well I added nikonians to the discount coupon and received another 59.85 off, thats better than the next 2 years of Nikonians for free. Can't beat that with the biggest stick I can find. Thank you for a great review. Norm

Michael Spanel (output555) on March 19, 2010

Excellent summary and review, Ernesto. I've been a fan in OnOne's software for years and their newest version of Plug-In Suite is their best. In my opinion it's as essential as Photoshop for processing an image.

Guy Perkins (gaperklake) on March 17, 2010

Thank you, Ernesto. You do very, very good work. Your analysis and approach has given me the best and clearest ideas about these products. (I have Genuine Fractals, and will probably buy Focus Point now.)

J. Ramon Palacios (jrp) on March 17, 2010

JRP is one of the co-founders, has in-depth knowledge in various areas. Awarded for his contributions for the Resources

Well done, Ernesto Succinct, concise and to the point, your review clearly shows what you can expect from these plug-ins and how easy it is to use them. Thank you.

G