I've seen people peddling automatic photo correction software since
the 1980s, when makers of photo minilabs all claimed to have better
abilities than the next maker. People are always trying to get the me to
think that they just invented the world's best and only magic software
that just makes everything just look perfect, and I've finally found one
that really works and saves me a lot of time. Perfectly Clear by
Athentech is a Photoshop or Lightroom plugin and a mobile app that just
goes. I was amazed the first time I tried it.
Perfectly Clear either makes my pictures better, or leaves them alone.
Important to me is the ability to fix color shifts caused by less then perfect white balance. For this, I check the Correct Tint box, and Bingo!, I usually get what I need far faster and better than if I piddled around in Photoshop with curves adjustment layers and masks. Sure, I can and have been doing what this software does manually in Photoshop since the early 1990s, but when time is money, Perfectly Clear lets me get a lot more done in a lot less time.
It corrects exposure and contrast by default.
If you want it to fix tints usually caused by poor white balance, just click the Tint Correction box.
If you want to reduce noise, hit the Noise Reduction box.
I really like this software over all the others I've tried because:
Because it leaves great photos alone, it works great for batch processing.
Because it works without needing a new layer, when I'm done and use my Photoshop Action to resize, sharpen and brand as © KenRockwell.com, I don't have to drag my © KenRockwell.com text layer above any adjustment layers, saving me even more time.
I don't bother with RAW images, however this plug-in will work on anything after you open it in Photoshop or Lightroom.
I like it, and many professional photo services also pay far more to use the same technology. See also their testimonials.
A list of features
For all of these, the defaults are where you want them, and you can adjust if needed.
The key is that it's smart enough to know just how much of each to add or subtract depending on the image — this intelligence is why we pay for this software.
These are the names the program uses:
Gets it right almost every time, and it doesn't clip blacks or whites.
Bumps it up when it needs to, and I've seen it knock it back down if I shot a portrait with my saturation set way too high.
Noise and Grain Removal
Fixes nasty color shifts.
Helps make photos pop.
Helps render them natural and appealing, without infrared.
Helps rein-in harsh light.
Helps get true purples and greens.
It works by default, but also might remove a red dot that isn't a defect. No big deal, just uncheck box if that happens.
Wilder colors. You find this as an option in Color > Fidelity.
Part of all the corrections, brings out lost shadows if needed.
The plugin works all by itself without us having to adjust any sliders. It is determining what to adjust and how, and just doing it, so we can deliver more photos and spend less time piddling.
My only whines are that I'd like live histograms if I have to tweak it, and that I'd like the magnification adjustments of the preview image to respond to standard Photoshop CMD+, CMD- and CMD 0 commands. (It's already supposed to work on windows versions, but I haven't used windows for over ten years, thank goodness!)
I suspect these features aren't far off.
Compared to DxO
DxO Optics Pro does much of the same things as well, as very specific lens corrections and a zillion other things, and therefore DxO is far more complex and clumsier to use.
With Perfectly Clear, a couple of clicks to open the filter, one click on OK, and I'm usually done. DxO takes too long and too many clicks for me to use it regularly.
DxO is superb for precise correction of specific lens defects, as well as general corrections, but much more involved. I can't afford involved, I do this for a living and get paid by the photo, not by the hour.
While not everyone needs correction this good or this fast, this software lets me crank out more finished images faster, which more than justifies its price for me. If you're a hobbyist, you'll have to ask yourself if it's worth it as a Photoshop or Lightroom plug in.
See also the $2.99 iPhone/iPad/iPod app, which does much of the same thing, also for Android.
Hey, they offer a 30-day full free trial and a 30-day no-questions-asked money-back guarantee after you buy it, so you can't lose.
Thanks for reading!