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PhotoWorks Review

by | Mar 20, 2024 | Photo Software Reviews, PhotoWorks, RAW Conversion | 0 comments

PhotoWorks Review

Are you looking for a user-friendly photo editing software that doesn’t require a steep learning curve? PhotoWorks might just be the solution you need. This software is designed for both beginners and intermediate users who want to enhance their photos with minimal fuss.

Supported Platforms:

Windows and Mac.

Overview:

Easy to Navigate Interface

One of the standout features of PhotoWorks is its intuitive interface. The layout is straightforward, making it easy for users to find the tools they need without getting lost in a sea of buttons and menus. This simplicity is perfect for those who are new to photo editing or those who prefer a more streamlined workflow.

Variety of Editing Tools

Despite its simplicity, PhotoWorks doesn’t skimp on features. It offers a comprehensive set of editing tools that cater to a wide range of needs. From basic adjustments like brightness and contrast to more advanced functions such as color correction and retouching, PhotoWorks has you covered. The software also includes a selection of artistic effects and filters to give your photos a unique touch.

Non-Destructive Editing

An important aspect of PhotoWorks is its non-destructive editing capability. This means you can make changes to your photo without permanently altering the original image. It’s a great feature for those who like to experiment with different looks, as you can always revert to the original photo if needed. PhotoWorks remembers the edits you have made to an image. If you re-open a previously worked on image, it offers to apply the edits to it. This is such a useful feature. You don’t need to save temporary copies of your edits. You just pick up from where you left off…

Affordable Price Point

When it comes to cost, PhotoWorks is quite affordable compared to other photo editing software on the market. It offers a good balance between functionality and price, making it an attractive option for hobbyists and professionals on a budget. Licensing options include an annual subscription or a perpetual license with one year of updates.

PhotoWorks – Interface

The interface is clean and easy to use. There are online tutorials and it displays useful hints when you first run the program. I like software that guides you as you become accustomed to it.  AMS Software PhotoWorks Review Interface

PhotoWorks – Supported File Formats

It supoorts every expected file formats, such as JPEG, PNG and TIFF. Additionally, it supports RAW photos, which is good to see. I’m a software developer as well as a photographer, so I had a look in the installation folder and saw that it’s using LibRaw for its RAW support. That’s a good choice – LibRaw is the standard go to RAW conversion library, and it ensures that PhotoWorks supports most current and old RAW formats. It hasn’t got the power or the flexibility of the bespoke raw converters, such as Lightroom or DxO Photo Library, but it is sufficient for general purpose photo editors.

RAW File Options 

I opened a RAW file and these were the options: PhotoWorks RAW Options It’s great to see the previews. In this case I chose Auto Enhancement.

Editing Options

Once the file has been opened, PhotoWorks’ editing options are all available and clearly visible. This is a plus point. I recently assessed Adobe Lightroom and found myself sifting through menus and right-click options trying to find an editing option. Of course the number of options affects the user interface, but it is clear that the developers have gone to great lengths to make the software as easy to use and as accessible as possible.   PhotoWorks Editing Options The bottom of the screen displays the other images in the folder that the image being edited is in. That’s a nice touch. The right-hand panel has the ‘usual’ editing options that any photo editor must have.

Main Options

Main Editing Options

Colours Options

Colors Options

Sharpening Options

Sharpness Options

Auto Correct

The first option I tried was Auto Correct and I’m pleased to say it did a good job: PhotoWorks Auto Correct The image has more punch. The Histogram shows that the exposure has been improved. Yes, there are washed out and dark areas in the image, but they haven’t been made worse by the edits. 

PhotoWorks Review – Working with a JPEG

I expect that the target audience for this software will be shooting JPEGs from digicams and phones, so I opened up a JPEG and went through some editing steps: PhotoWorks Editing Image I like my photos saturated and punchy, so I adjusted the sliders to achieve this result: PhotoWorks Result I was pleased to see that I could edit the settings either by dragging the slider or by entering the values directly. Sliders are fine, but precise changes or setting things back to zero need the latter option.

Verdict so far

PhotoWorks is easy to use and the adjustments look good. It offers the basic editing tools and I achieved a decent result with them.

PhotoWorks Review – Advanced Options

Tools

Click on the Tools button and a large array of available tools appears in the right hand panel: PhotoWorks Tools This is a very decent set of options, and it contains options usually available only in high-end (and expensive) tools. I won’t test every one of them, but will concentrate on the ones that suit this image.

Sky Replacement

This image has a clear distinction between the sky and the mountains. But sky replacement requires the software be able to select all the sky and only the sky, otherwise it will replace some of the mountains and/or retain some of the original sky, which won’t look right.  PhotoWorks provide (for free) a set of skies that you can use, or you can use your own. For this image, I chose a sunset sky, adjusted the image to match the sky’s colours, and refined the mask to ensure the whole sky was replaced. AMS PhotoWorks Review - Sky Replacement It’s done a good job. You can see the options for adjusting the sky, and they maximize the chances or a successful outcome. Of course, the outcome depends on whether or not PhotoWorks can successfully distinguish between the sky and the horizon. It didn’t do so well with this image: Sky replacement - not successful PhotoWorks’ result is on the right. Trees are really difficult to mask properly, so it isn’t surprising that PhotoWorks struggled here. Skylum Luminar succeeds with this image, so it can be done. Hopefully, they will continue to improve their sky detection technology.

Noise reduction

Noisy images look bad. PhotoWorks has a Noise Reduction tool and I wondered how it would fare with a truly noisy image. My thinking is that the typical user of PhotoWorks would use a mobile phone or, a digicam, or an APS-C digital camera. The smaller imaging chip on these devices is likely to produce noise, due to its small pixels and the need to push the ISO high on dull days. Here is my test image, displayed at 100% in PhotoWorks: PhotoWorks Noise Reduction The noise is horrible and I have thrown this image at many photo editors, with varying results. How would PhotoWorks do? After some trial and error, I found the settings of 75 gave the best results. PhotWorks only has one slider for noise removal. It makes testing it easy, but I feared the results would suffer because of the lack of available adjustments. I was wrong. Here is the result in PhotoWorks: Noise Reduced This is a far, far better result than I had expected. It’s not as good as AI-based specialist noise reduction tools, that cost several times the price of PhotoWorks, but it represents a very credible effort. Here is the final result – right click on it and save it to see the results for yourself. This image would look fine displayed on screen or in a 12 inch print. For typical users, that will be enough. Full sized image  

Background replacement

Another advanced feature of PhotoWorks is its ability to replace the background. Its implementation relies on you to tell it what to keep and what to discard, by drawing borders around these areas. This is a well-known method and I’ve had very mixed results with it in other software. I’m not great at drawing these borders with a mouse, a graphics tablet is better suited here, but I had a quick stab at it and this is my first attempt: PhotoWorks background removal - draw the borders Well, I wasn’t expecting such a good result – PhotoWorks has got it right, and my guidelines are not very precise. I’m sure the image having a clear background helps, but my experience says that the other tools I have used would not have done as well. PhotoWorks lets you use a colour or another image as the new background. As with the sky replacement, it supplies a number of images or you can use your own. I selected one of theirs: PhotoWokrs - successful background replacement That’s about as good as it gets. Full marks to PhotoWorks!

Portrait Photography

Portrait photography has its own special challenges. You want your subject(s) to look good, but too much editing and they no longer look natural. There is dedicated, expensive, software available to make these edits. PhotoWorks also features several modules designed for improving people photography. It has both automatic and manual adjustments. But are they any good?

The test image

First, I went to the Portrait Magic option and selected Glamorous portrait, one of many presets: That’s a good result – no complaints here. As you can see, there are a wide range of presets to choose from. Then I selected Overall Enhancement: PhotoWorks Automatic Portrait Enhancement It’s subtly different and a little more natural.

Manual Adjustments

This time I selected Skin Defects Removal: PhotoWorks Skin Defects Removal I found it easy to use and obtained a natural result without difficulty. Finally, I selected Face Sculpt and was impressed by the large number of adjustments on offer. PhotoWorks - Comprehensive facial adjustments It’s impossible not to be impressed by both the range and quality of the adjustments on offer here. There is also a Body Sculpt option, with a similarly comprehensive range of options.

Other Adjustments

The Effects and Text & Frame offer a wide range of extra adjustments to complete your image. Here are some of them in action. First I opened an image and adjusted its colours to saturate them and give the image some depth: PhotoWorks - Additional Adjustments

Then, from the wide range of extra adjustments on offer, I added some Sunrays: PhotoWorks - Sunrays I was, once again, impressed with the set of options available. The panel to the right shows the range on offer. Next, I added some Soft Contrast: PhotoWorks - Soft Contrast  
PhotoWorks Effects
Next, I visited the Text and Frames module and added a frame to the image: PhotoWorks - Frame And finally, I added a Sticker, Text, and a Watermark to complete the image: The finished Image by PhotoWorks

Conclusion

This review has not tested everything that PhotoWorks has to offer. The software has such a wide range of options that I would need to write a book to cover them all! I concentrated on what I would use PhotoWorks for, and I was genuinely impressed.

Pros

  • Ease of use
  • Useful hints on opening a module for the first time
  • Very helpful online video tutorials
  • Comprehensive set of options
  • Quality of options
    • Noise reduction very good for this level
    • Background replacement is excellent
    • Sky replacement good with the right images
  • Software is reliable – no crashes experienced and I was using 32mp images much of the time

Cons

  • RAW processing options limited
  • Sky replacement struggles with complex structures, such as trees

Download PhotoWorks

Give PhotoWorks a try!

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