AKVIS Enhancer 9.1 is a tool which can reveal hidden details in unevenly exposed digital photos. It is available as a standalone application or as a plug-in to a photo editor such as Photoshop.

We've all done it: snapped our friends on that beach holiday and got a lovely picture of three silhouettes all saying cheese against a bright white sky. Well don't bin it just yet. Those cheesy grins and red-raw noses may not be lost forever if you have access to AKVIS Enhancer 9.1.

Underexposed faces, overexposed skies, invisible black cats on black settees, or even blurry landmarks, can all be improved with AKVIS Enhancer 9.1's colour transition technology. It works by strengthening the difference between adjacent pixels to increase the image's dynamic range and bring out details that your camera's autofocus mode got all confused about.

There are three modes: Enhancer, Focus and HDRI (High Dynamic Range Imaging).

In Enhancer mode you can simply leave the default software to balance the lighting and to bring out the details for you. If you wish, you can then alter the parameters with four slider controls: shadows, highlights, level of details, and lightness. The effects are non-destructive and you can easily flip between before-and-after shots, which really helps.

With version 9.1 comes the Focus mode that can sharpen blurry images. Like the Enhancer it's very easy to use. You can select the whole image, or you can specify a particular area and adjust the focus parameter sliders until you are happy.

The HDRI mode (Standalone AKVIS Enhancer 9.1 only) works by combining a series of images to get one HDR picture. This technology allows expanding the dynamic range of an image and shows details in both shadows and highlights.

The plug-in version includes Batch Mode Support where you can record actions on one image and set it to repeat them on a batch of images, saving you lots of time.

Of course, there is nothing in AKVIS Enhancer 9.1 that Photoshop can't already do for you - and do better. This program is relatively limited: a tad too much enhancement and the image will become grainy. But we're not all Photoshop experts; neither can we all afford its £600 price tag.

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AKVIS Enhancer 9.1: Specs

  • Pentium III or PPC G3/Intel
  • 512MB RAM
  • Windows 2000/XP/Vista or Mac OS X 10.3.9
  • min screen resolution 1,024x768
  • Pentium III or PPC G3/Intel
  • 512MB RAM
  • Windows 2000/XP/Vista or Mac OS X 10.3.9
  • min screen resolution 1,024x768

OUR VERDICT

Akvis Enhancer may have its limits but if the thought of meddling in the dark arts of Photoshop's burning, dodging and unsharp masking gives you the willies, then Akvis Enhancer 9.1 is the easier and much cheaper alternative to uncovering hidden details.

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