Most people’s digital imaging needs revolve around photos, and PhotoDirector 4 is CyberLink’s answer to the perennial problem of organising, editing and sharing them all. It cleverly combines a high-end feature set – particularly with regards to correcting and editing your photos – with a user interface that’s both simple to grasp and easy to navigate.
This fourth version comes just 18 months after PhotoDirector’s initial release, and is the first release for Mac, which works in an identical fashion to its Windows counterpart. Despite the rapid release schedule, version 4 manages to add a number of notable new features to its arsenal.
Fire up the program and you’ll see it’s split into five main sections. You’ll start in the Library section, which – as you suspected – is where your photos are imported and organised. During import you can apply preset effects, tag your photos, or rename them – this feature works best when adding in small batches rather than importing your entire collection. Version 4 adds a brand new face-tagging feature – powered by automatic facial recognition technology – that enable you to quickly tag your photos with the people who feature in them.
With your collection imported and organised, switch to the Adjustment tab to perform quick-fire corrections to your photos. These include both colour, exposure and lighting correction tools – both automatic presets for one-click changes, and a selection of manual tools that can be applied to all or part of your image. Throw in a selection of other tools like healing brushes and red-eye fixes and you’re pretty much covered.
It’s here that PhotoDirector 4 moves beyond its main rival, Photoshop Lightroom, in offering additional features more suited to a straight-laced image editing tool like Photoshop Elements. Switch to the Edit tab and you’ll find tools for making more drastic changes to your photos, including a whole section dedicated to “beautifying” portraits. Existing tools such as Tooth Brush and Wrinkle Remover are joined by a Body Shaper tool in version 4 that makes it possible to subtly slim bodies, faces and heads, trimming pounds and proving the camera can lie after all.
The Edit section also provides tools for adding striking effects – including sepia, tint and blur – to your photos, plus boasts sections for removing the background, creating watermarks for copyright purposes and a Photo Composer tool for combining elements from different photos together. Version 4 adds a smart Content Aware Removal tool that allows you to remove unwanted elements from your photos while intelligently filling in the missing background automatically.
The tools are mostly non-destructive – any changes must be saved to new images, ensuring your original, blemished photos are kept intact – and once you’ve injected some pizzazz into your photos you’ll be glad to learn that PhotoDirector comes equipped with tools for sharing them with others. There’s a Slideshow section for pulling together photos for a slideshow you can share directly on YouTube or convert into a movie file for burning manually to DVD. And finally, the Print section allows you to print out photos for keepsakes.
The pace of change may have slowed since the radical revamp of version 3, but there’s enough new in PhotoDirector 4 to make it an appealing upgrade for both existing users as well as those looking for a cost-effective, user-friendly but powerful tool for organising and editing large photo collections.
A competitively priced alternative to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom that will appeal to home enthusiasts looking for a decent blend of powerful features and usability.