PhotoDirector offers a simple workflow

CyberLink PhotoDirector is an all-in-one photography workflow program that lets you manage, retouch, enhance, share, and print your digital photos.

CyberLink PhotoDirector is an all-in-one photography workflow program that lets you manage, retouch, enhance, share, and print your digital photos. With its intuitive workflow and nondestructive editing environment, it appears to be a great choice for beginners and intermediate users. Plus, with the possibilities furnished by the robust community, it might even work for more-advanced users as well.

One change you'll notice from the last version is that the PhotoDirector interface is now split into five main viewing panels as opposed to three: Library, Adjustment, Edit, Slideshow, and Print.

The Library presents all of your digital photos in an intuitive interface. Along the left are several tabs for browsing, with a prominent Import button at the bottom. It's nice that PhotoDirector natively supports raw files from Canon and Nikon cameras, but there is still room to add more support in this department. 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 filter as needed.

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. Interestingly, there's still no Google+ or Twitter.

The Adjustment screen is where much of the meat of PhotoDirector lies. It houses tools for adjusting global 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. I found the Spot Removal tool particularly effective and actually a bit easier to use than even Photoshop's Clone Stamp. This is a nice tool for novice photographers who might often catch stray figures in their 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 great 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 community. And it's all free. What's nice is you can roll over a Preset to preview its effect on a thumbnail of your photo. Or you can click around to preview Preset effects in full size. Trying out new effects is fun because its so simple.

New to this version of PhotoDirector is the Edit tab, which houses a menu of new tools including "People Beautifiers." Here you'll be able to whiten teeth, smoothen skin, remove wrinkles, and so on. There's also a brand-new watermark creator, which is useful when sending out proofs of your work.

Under the Slideshow tab is the most basic of slideshow creators. It lets you control transition effects, aspect ratio, background music, and slide duration. It also lets you automatically share to YouTube or export it as an AVC, MPEG-4, or WMV file. While it is a nice convenience to have built in, this bare-bones tool is really an afterthought next to all of the photo-editing features.

Finally, there's the Print tab, which offers a ton of customization options. This process is often tedious and difficult with many other programs, but with PhotoDirector it really is a breeze. You can easily manipulate things like the dimensions and orientation of prints. And I love that you can simply drag photos from your photo tray directly onto the print preview. It's both intuitive and powerful.

Overall, I think CyberLink PhotoDirector is a winner. Sure it would benefit from some hot keys, and it's certainly not as powerful as a Photoshop, but its strength is really its simplicity of workflow.

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