Widsmob Retoucher for Windows Review
Retoucher – WidsMob recently asked me to review the Windows version of their image-editing program.
Disclaimer: I am NOT a WidsMob affiliate and I receive no commission from them should you purchase their programs. They provided me with a fully functional version of the program and a few sample images.
What do you get for $19.99?
Photo software usually comes in two forms: free or expensive. I use free tools (often apps for mobile phones and tablets, such as Snapseed) to edit snaps without having to boot up the computer. But when I want to edit a picture from my camera, I use professional tools that are often very expensive.
I was, therefore, intrigued about how much an inexpensive tool could give me.
A few caveats
WidsMob are still enhancing this program to bring it into line with the Apple Mac version (like Skylum, there seems to be a delay before the Windows version catches up with the Mac). In the version I tested I could not process RAW or TIF files. It supports JPEGs and PNGs. Therefore, the Windows version is currently suited to photographers who don’t shoot RAW or those wanting to enhance old JPEGs or mobile phone pictures. As they enhance the program, it will become suited for processing images taken in RAW and for 16 bit images.
The Retoucher Interface
It looks familiar – Retoucher puts the image on the left of the screen, with the various tools on the right-hand side. It looks very similar to Topaz Labs’ AI range.
The interface supports a nice before and after view and you can zoom the image in and out.
Retoucher offers the following functions:
- Standard adjustments – Saturation, Contrast, Brightness, Colour Temperature and Tint
- Face Adjustments – Soften Skin and Whiten Skin
- Noice Reduction – Luminance, Chrominance and Sharpness
- Lomo Adjustments – Colour filter (including an opacity or strength slider), Vignetting (adding not removing), FisheEye effect
- Film Pack – a comprehensive set of adjustments, which I’ll talk about later.
These are the basic bread and butter adjustments that every image adjustment tool needs and all provide. They all work as expected:
I could have edited differently, of course. But this is just an example of a bit of Saturation and Contrast tweaking. I was pleased to see the image stayed clean and noise free.
Retoucher Face Adjustments
If Saturation, Hue and Contrast adjustments are a standard, Face enhancement is anything but… It’s difficult to do automatically because the face and its features need detecting. High end tools such as Anthropics Portrait Pro (starting price about £35.00 going to over £200 for the most powerful version) offer many tools for selecting specific facial features. But Retoucher has to work it all out for itself. Can it?
Widsmob provided me some portrait images for my tests. But I threw a curve ball at it by stitching them together. So now Retoucher has two faces to identify and select. I’m a cruel tester!
I honestly wasn’t expecting this quality. I can’t find fault with what it has done. The faces look natural and, significantly, the enhancements have not corrupted other parts of the image. Retoucher only offers skin smoothing and skin lightening, but these are likely to be the ones you use the most. Widsmob offer an enhanced program for facial enhancements but it is currently a Mac only tool.
So I thought to myself, ‘WidsMob supplied me these images, is their software cheating?’ There’s only one way to find out – I threw one of my own images at it. I shot a wedding recently and had some nice group shots, including one with four bridesmaids. Retoucher identified all four faces and did well with them.
The picture below is just a closeup of one face:
It’s another good result. And Retoucher did not affect non-facial parts of the image… An excellent result.
Retoucher Noise Adjustment
The challenge for any noise reduction program is to reduce noise whilst keeping detail. I selected an old ISO 800 image that had plenty of noise to see how Retoucher did compared to Photo Ninja. Photo Ninja is an excellent noise reduction tool – my previous test ranks it as the best in the business. It costs $129.
Here are the comparisons images:
Retoucher has done a very good job. It’s not quite as good as Photo Ninja, but nothing is. I’ve zoomed these images to 100% – the differences between Retoucher and Ninja will be imperceptible at normal sizes.
The second image confirms that Retoucher and Ninja have kept the detail in the image. Both will sharpen up well and are usable.
They have implemented these adjustments well. You can add a colour filter to the image. In the picture below I have added a warm up effect and a slight vignette:
I would have liked to have seen some filter presets, such as 81a, 81b and 81c, but I had to pick my colour from a standard colour picker. Hopefully, they will enhance this feature to make the software easier to use.
I thought the FisheEye effect was a little gimmicky – it creates a circular image with a bit of distortion. But you may find a use for it. I had some fun with it:
Retoucher Film Pack
You can use the film pack tool to make it look like you took your image with a huge selection of different film stocks. Here’s the interface:
You can see that there are many options to choose from. Here is a selection:
- Colour positive film
- Colour negative film
- B&W film
- Cross processed film
Each option then offers a selection of film stocks.
Film Colour Mode
- Contrast – four different strengths
- Saturation – Four different strengths
- Special – toning such as Sepia, Gold and Selenium
Too many to list so here’s a screenshot:
I experimented with these for quite a while. I cannot say if they accurately reflect the film stocks and don’t think it really matters. The important thing is that it offered plenty of control over the size and intensity of the grain.
There is a demand for this effect. Exposure X5 and the DXO Film Pack offer similar effects and I’m sure other tools do. I didn’t make any comparisons here – there is no right or wrong and the result will always be a matter of taste. But I like the drama Retoucher has added to what started out to be a bland picture.
Here’s my finished picture:
This is a cool piece of software and a very low price. I particularly liked the Film Pack, Portrait enhancement and Noise reduction. The Windows product is not the finished article yet. Adding RAW & 16 bit TIFF support would be good. Hopefully that will come later. I also experience the occasional crash when editing larges images. I saved my work more often than usual to avoid losing my edits. But I never felt like giving up.
Who would use this tool?
Someone who already has Photoshop, a noise reduction tool, film simulation tools and a portrait enhancement tool probably won’t find anything new here. But even if you are missing just one of them, then this product will fill the gap at a very reasonable price. A Mac user will find this even more tempting, given the RAW image capability.