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onOne / First Look at Photo Suite 9

Perfect Photo Suite 9. Coming October 2014.

Perfect Photo Suite 9. Coming October 2014.

Yesterday, onOne Software gave us all a deeper look at the features coming in Perfect Photo Suite 9. PPS9 webinars are scheduled every Friday throughout September and October. You can find the schedule and register in the Learn section of the onOne website.

Overall, I'm impressed. There are a bunch of new features coming I'm eager to use, one I'm hoping lives up to the hype, and one that leaves me wanting more.

Noise Reduction

The new Noise Reduction filter was showcased in Enhance, and will also be present in Effects and Black & White. It's slick. It'll save me another plug-in to bounce through when I have to deal with noise. Especially nice is NR can be applied selective without masking. The filter has similar semantics to the Effects "Apply to" in the blending options. 

Smart Photos

If you haven't already watched the demo video on Smart Photos, take a few minutes and do so. Smart Photos in essence is non-destructive editing. I'm drooling over this. Now I can go back and tweak any layer or filter in any of the modules after initial processing. Huge. As a bonus, the PSD file size actually shrinks. Non-destructive and saves me disk space? Double-huge.

You do have to select Smart Photos as an option when opening an image. This has only been demonstrated when opening from Browse. I'm assuming there's going to be a plug-in variant (a la "Open as Layers in ...") for Aperture and Lightroom.

I will want to play with this more for sure. And if the non-destructive features are solid, no more editing a copy, which means even more disk space savings.

Masking

Perfect Mask is gone and all of the masking tools are equally available in both Layers and Effects. That's great. And masks can be copied across modules. Great, too.

Quite a bit of time in the webinar was spent on the Quick Mask brush, which replaces the drop/keep tools. Yup – replaces. Keep/drop are gone. I also didn't see the Pen tool either, which was a favorite of mine for horizon lines. 

I am concerned that the Quick Brush won't handle the complex masks that are achievable with keep/drop. In the demonstration today, the new tools did an admirable job, although a masking of a sheer bridal veil against a blue sky looked a little chunky. Granted, it's a webinar and you don't bore an audience with intricate masking.

I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt until I get the software in my hands. I already have an image in mind I want to try the masking tools out on, one that I had to spend significant time with Perfect Mask's keep, drop and pen tools to get just right. That'll be my litmus test for the Quick Mask brush.

Printing

I don't do much printing (although I really should). For those of you that do, you'll be happy that you can print from any module in PPS9. And the printing options are well thought out.

Perfect Browse

Browse has gotten a major overhaul. To date, I've not used the Browse module. Aperture is my digital asset manager. With Aperture being phased out by Apple, and what Apple Photos will be to professional photographers is still shrouded in mystery, I keenly studied the demonstrations of Browse and asked lot of questions (most of which were promptly answered during the webinar).

In PPS9, Browse offers rating, ranking, color labels and keywording. Complete with keyboard short cuts. And the metadata is stored in standard IPTC and EXIF fields, so they are recognized and honored by other DAMs like Lightroom and Aperture. Browse promises search features, too. The topic of search was mentioned in passing. Launching images to other external programs (Nik, Mail, Photoshop, name your plug-in) is fully supported – the skeleton of a good DAM system.

Personally, a workflow of tagging images via Browse and then bringing them into another DAM doesn't make sense. I am looking at Browse as a potential replacement for Aperture. Unfortunately for me and my looming migration, PPS9 Browse won't satisfy my workflow needs.

Simply put, Browse is a browser, it's not a database. The metadata is within each image and the hierarchy of images isn't "known" to PPS9. So things like search functions apply only to the currently selected folder and not across a library of images. That alone is wholly inadequate for my workflow needs. And if you've read my Aperture workflow book, you'll know just how much this falls short.

Once I understood this, my questions about keyword groups, mobile-to-studio workflows, and advanced search options didn't need to be answered. At least not now.

Maybe there's more in the pipeline for Browse. Maybe this is a first step toward onOne being a full-fledged DAM. There's a solid framework in PPS9. More to come in a PPS9.5 in the spring of 2015? I don't know. Given how much time I spend in the suite, if it's DAM capabilities extend just a bit further and embrace the notion of albums/collections, it becomes a contender as my new DAM in 2015.

I am visiting onOne in about two weeks.... I'm going to plant this seed and hope it grows.