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CyberLink PhotoDirector Ultra 4 review

£79.99 inc VAT

Manufacturer: CyberLink

Our Rating: We rate this 3.5 out of 5

CyberLink PhotoDirector 4 adds face recognition and Mac OS X support to this Lightroom and Aperture wannabee.

People are by far the most common subjects for photographs, so it's fitting that two of the new features in CyberLink’s PhotoDirector Ultra 4 are concerned with facial recognition and portrait manipulation.

Read: more photo editing software reviews.

CyberLink PhotoDirector 4’s new face tagging ability follows a common enough concept these days – several products on the market offer utilities for naming people in photos. As with other applications, this type of analysis can be applied manually to faces in images, but will also run automatically during the ingest process for media. 

In manual mode, CyberLink PhotoDirector 4 scored over Photoshop Elements in being more precise in distinguishing real faces from other elements in a particularly challenging photo of a muddy festival. 

It wasn't as good at recognising previously tagged people in new photos however - Photoshop Elements takes the prize here.

Body Shaper, a collection of deformation tools, is one of the ‘People Beautifier’ editing set (joining Skin Smoother, Wrinkle Removal, Tooth Brush and Eye Blinger). 

For the most part this simply consists of warping pixels, pushing them or applying pucker and bloat operations, but it also allows a grid to be placed on the image that can be used to reshape objects (or in this case bodies) by dragging control points. 

You can brush over areas of the image that need to be protected from the distortion effects, but these are tricky tools to get right and achieving a ‘perfect’ body shape might be more difficult than expected. 

In appearance and workflow, the Windows – and now Mac too – 64-bit CyberLink PhotoDirector 4 rather resembles the pro photography tool Adobe Lightroom, although it's currently £79.99 against the £103.88 price of Adobe’s software.

It shares Lightroom's dark interface and focuses on organisation as well as offering 16-bit colour and RAW image support, both broad and precise image adjustments, metadata editing and batch processing of multiple images. 

Also in common with Adobe Lightroom, CyberLink PhotoDirector stops short of offering pixel-drawing tools - such as the pencil or paintbrush in Photoshop – this isn’t an all round image creation and editing app. 

New to CyberLink in the Adjustments tab is the HDR Effect, which fakes the stylised looks that can be achieved with high dynamic range images. The new Chromatic Aberration tool offers the more subtle adjustment of reducing colour fringing along object boundaries.

You can also apply Presets, basically one-shot combo image adjustments, such as B&W - High Contrast, or Style - Lomo. 

The Default Presets can be supplemented by your own saved 'looks' or you can download user-generated presets from CyberLink's online Director Zone. Like all such effects they need to be used sparingly and wisely - applying HDR Presets to portraits won't win you any points with your models, for example.  

Content-aware editing, following Photoshop’s method of ‘magically’ removing objects from the scene, is the big new feature in the Edit tab. 

It compares the background around the target area and once cut, does a good job of filling the missing space with new, compatible pixels. There's also a Line Drawer option to make short work of wire removal.

CyberLink PhotoDirector Ultra 4 Expert Verdict »

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Windows XP SP3/Vista/7/8
Intel Pentium processor
Mac OS X (10.6.8 and higher) and multicore Intel processor with 64-bit support
1GB drive space
  • Ease of Use: We give this item 8 of 10 for ease of use
  • Features: We give this item 7 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 8 of 10 for value for money
  • Overall: We give this item 7 of 10 overall

While adding facial recognition facilities is welcome, and very well implemented here, it's not as earth shattering an innovation as it might once have been. The Body Shaper tools are just mesh deformers with a celebrity mag makeover. Pros might balk at the big friendly icons, but PhotoDirector is a fast and versatile cross-platform tool for working with collections of digital photos, with just enough image adjustment tools to interest professionals.

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