Review Date : Mon, 5 Mar 2007
Author : WDC Team
None of us can say that every picture we take is 'perfect', but with FixerLabs's FixerBundle help is on hand to overcome the most common picture faults......
None of us can say that every picture we take is ‘perfect’, but with FixerLabs’s FixerBundle help is on hand to overcome the most common picture faults. So how can these Windows and Mac-compatible Photoshop plug-ins come to the rescue?
Whether it’s camera or subject movement or you’ve held back on your in-camera sharpening, FixerBundle’s FocusFixer is the tool to call upon when you want to crisp up your pictures. Using FixerLabs ‘LensFIT’ technology images are sharpened based on your camera’s EXIF data, and once you’ve selected your model from a drop down list you simply adjust two sliders – ‘deblur’ and ‘threshold’. With scalable ‘before’ and ‘after’ preview windows it’s relatively easy to sharpen your images sympathetically, with the end result displaying noticeably fewer artefacts than using a ‘general’ sharpening tool such as Photoshop’s Unsharp Mask filter.
If you need to shoot at high ISO settings noise is very likely to appear. To overcome this, NoiseFixer tackles both colour (chroma) and luminance noise with an individual slider for both. Four scalable preview windows show the colour and luminance noise reduction, with before and after previews of the final image for comparison. The simple slider-based controls and scalable previews make it straightforward to see the effect your changes are having, so it’s easy to remove noise. However, NoiseFixer can soften pictures slightly, so an application of FocusFixer after the noise reduction is recommended.
ShadowFixer is the least impressive of this quartet and it’s not that it doesn’t work or is difficult to use. When it comes to lightening shadows it works quite well, with two self-explanatory sliders (‘radius’ and ‘amount’) and scalable before and after preview windows. However, for me, Photoshop’s Shadow/Highlight feature is more rounded as it helps you optimise your highlights as well as shadows. While ShadowFixer doesn’t appear to amplify noise in the lightened areas quite as much, I’ll still be sticking with Photoshop for this particular problem.
TrueBlur is the odd man out in this group, as it offers a creative means of softening images (or parts of them) rather than ‘fixing’ a technical fault. Like FocusFixer, TrueBlur uses EXIF-based LensFIT technology to produce a ‘natural’ blurring effect in keeping with the camera you’re using and it does create a softened background. Again though, Photoshop’s Lens Blur filter offers far greater control over the softening effect.