CyberLink PhotoDirector 2011 is an all-in-one photography program that lets you manage, retouch, enhance, and share your digital photos. With its intuitive workflow and nondestructive editing environment, we think it's a great choice for beginners and intermediate users. Plus, with the possibilities furnished by the robust DirectorZone.com community, it might even work for more-advanced users as well.
PhotoDirector is split up into three main viewing panels: Library, for managing and sifting through your photos; Adjustment, for retouching and enhancing; and Slideshow for turning your stills into moving masterpieces.
The Library presents all of your digital photos in an intuitive interface. Along the left are several tabs for browsing, along with a prominent Import button. The program natively supports raw files from Canon and Nikon cameras, which should be welcome news for many. What's nice about the Library is that it provides so many ways to slice and dice your photo collections, making it easy to navigate huge workloads. You can flag, rate, tag, and apply color-coded labels to items, then sift based on any of those parameters. Finding photos and organizing collections is a breeze in PhotoDirector.
Near the bottom of the Library page, you'll find the Export and Share tools, both of which conveniently support batch uploading. The Share tool can automatically publish to either Flickr or Facebook.
The Adjustment screen is where the real meat of PhotoDirector lies. Along the left you'll find several tabs for manually adjusting properties like White Balance, Tone, Level, Color, Detail, and Vignetting. Also, there's a Regional Adjustment Tools section for cropping, masking, red-eye removal, and spot removal. In our tests, the Spot Removal tool was particularly effective and actually a bit easier to use than even Photoshop's Clone Stamp--great for beginners who still have problems composing shots. Also, it's important to note that all of the edits made are easily reversible. You can readjust sliders, uncheck boxes, or delete effects without issue. This nondestructive editing environment makes PhotoDirector a nice tool for learning about photo manipulation.
And then there are the Presets. Presets are saved bundles of effects that together create a distinct look and feel. For instance, there is an '80s effect, Lomo, and several B&W effects. Many come preloaded, but you can easily create and save your own custom Presets as well. You can even access a virtually infinite number of user-created Presets via CyberLink's DirectorZone.com community. And it's all free.
Applying the Preset filters in PhotoDirector is incredibly simply. If you roll over any Preset, you'll see a small preview of its effect on your photo. Click the Preset, and its effects will be reflected in full size. If you don't like what you see, simply click another. You don't have to tediously click Apply and Undo to test different filter effects on your photos, which makes the editing experience that much more enjoyable.
PhotoDirector's integrated slideshow creator is decidedly basic. It lets you control transition effects, aspect ratio, background music, and slide duration. It also lets you automatically share your masterpiece to YouTube or export it as an AVC, MPEG-4, or WMV file. While it is a nice convenience to have built-in, it is really an afterthought next to all of the photo-editing features.
Overall, we think CyberLink PhotoDirector is a winner. Sure it's missing hot keys, and it's certainly not as powerful as a Photoshop, but the program is simple, and that's its biggest selling point.