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onOne Plug-in Suite 4 for Adobe Photoshop

A very useful suite of plug-ins with amazing capabilities By Robert Jensen

Less than nine months after its groundbreaking Plug-in Suite 3, onOne software gives birth to an updated plug-in suite for Photoshop and Photoshop Elements that offers several new and powerful tools that make editing your photos a snap.

It seems like just a few months ago that I reviewed onOne Software's new Plug-in Suite 3...wait a minute it WAS just a few months ago! [See my review of Plug-in Suite 3 here ].

I guess the folks over at onOne are not sitting around twiddling their thumbs if they're updating such a great software package already. Since the new Plug-in Suite 4 shares some of the same packs such as Genuine Fractals, Mask Pro, PhotoFrame Pro and PhotoTune (if you downloaded the update to 3 you got it for free) for this review I'll concentrate on what's new and different in version 4 but first I'll point out that the graphical user interface (GUI) for Mask Pro and PhotoFrame have been updated to match the rest of the suite's plug-ins. However PhotoTune's GUI stays much the same as it was.


Also PhotoFrame has been upgraded to the Professional Edition. This now includes all of the Pro Guru frames from well known photographers/Photoshop instructors Dave Cross, Jack Davis, Jim DiVitale, Helene Glassman, Kevin Kubota, Rick Sammon and Vincent Versace.

When you open any of the tools in the suite, you're greeted with a short tutorial on how to use the software. This feature can be turned off by just unticking the 'Show at launch' box in the opening screen of the tutorial. You can also watch several in-depth video tutorials on each plug-in at any time by selecting 'Show onOne Software Tutorials.' You'll need an Internet connection since onOne hosts the various tutorials on its website. All the tutorials are short and a terrific way to get you knowledgeable on the software in just a few minutes. It is much faster than thumbing through a thick manual.

FocalPoint:
FocalPoint enables you to go in afterward and change the apparent focus and/or depth-of-field of your image. Once past the tutorial, you're greeted with a modern looking, dark gray on black interface with the control panel on the right side of the screen. There you'll find controls like Navigator, Aperture, Blur, Vignette, Film Grain and Presets " each section has a drop-down arrow similar to Adobe's Lightroom which shows/hides that section of panel.

Navigator is a no brainer, with presets for Fit (to screen), 1:1, 2:1 and 4:1 zoom you just click to zoom in and out. You can also use either the magnifying glass and the Alt (Alt/Option key on a Mac) to toggle between zooming in and out. I found that using the Ctrl " key combo I could zoom out, just like with a lot of editing programs but Ctrl + didn't zoom in. (maybe a small update is needed?) When zoomed in you can drag the red rectangle inside the Navigator to move around or by selecting the Hand tool at the bottom of the screen you can click and drag the image around.

Click for full view

Now we come to the Focus Bug, the plug-in's appropriately named main control. Sitting inside the image panel, the Bug's various antenna control the size, orientation, shape, fall-off and intensity of focus, type of blur (Gaussian to a Motion like blur) and vignette. Drag the Bug to the desired location, move the antenna controls around and in and out from the center and you have almost infinite control of the look of your filter. The Bug interface was totally new to me but I picked up the nack of using it very quickly.

One nice touch is being able to add Film Grain to your image. Be sure to zoom into 1:1 to best judge the effect on your image. You'll want to use this control on images that had some grain to begin with. One problem with using any soft focus or blurring filter is that it blends away the grain so that sharp sections of your photo have grain but the blurred out sections don't. So use the Film Grain control to add back in some grain to those soft filtered areas to make it look more natural. 

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