PhotoDirector 5 steps up to compete with Aperture and Lightroom

While CyberLink aimed its PhotoDirector 5 photo management and editing app directly at the hobbyist crowd, it also decided to add features that would stack up favorably against high-powered, pro-level competitors such as Apple Aperture, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, and Corel AfterShot Pro. That's a tall order.

But with new native 64-bit and Retina display support, PhotoDirector 5 gets off to a good start by joining photo management heavy hitters in the ability to quickly process high-resolution and Raw images from new digital cameras and have them appear with sparkling clarity on new high-resolution displays.

With such improvements, PhotoDirector 5 may achieve a higher profile in the consumer market, where people have fewer photo management choices than on the pro level. This is especially true on the Mac side, where PhotoDirector made its debut only last year. Even for those looking for an iPhoto or Adobe Photoshop Elements alternative for image editing and management, PhotoDirector 5 merits a look.

Simple single window

PhotoDirector 5 fires up into a single window, which keeps the app handily compact. While it looks a little busy, it's not hard to decipher an abundance of essential tools. Tabs at the top of the window offer context-sensitive controls to govern your image library, integrating functions like image adjustment, slideshow creation, and printing. Within these modules, controls are neatly contained to promote an intuitive workflow regardless of your level of photographic expertise.

New features in version 5 provide improved sorting, rating, and labeling of photos, custom album creation, and automatic stacking of shots.

Everyone wants to adjust their images, and PhotoDirector, like other fully featured apps, includes both global and regional adjustment tools, artistic creative effects, enhanced noise reduction capabilities, and specific commands for flattering the looks of people in your shots. New preset adjustments let you apply split toning to your images. The Auto Lens Correction feature removes barrel and perspective distortions, vignetting, and chromatic aberration--a nice pro-level feature for serious hobbyists. Additional lens profiles are available from the software's companion website DirectorZone.

Improvements to the software's creative editing features include tools to beautify people, non-Adobe content aware fill, a collage feature, customized frames and watermarks, and a way to combine five bracketed shots to create genuine HDR images. You can import JPEG, TIFF, and Raw formats from a range of popular cameras, like Canon, Fujifilm, Hasselblad, Leica, and others.

CyberLink didn't forget about videographers, and with PhotoDirector 5 you can create UltraHD slideshows for both 2K and 4K video in MPEG4, H.264, or WMV formats--complete with pan-and-zoom motion, titles, and background music.

And we all know that sharing the results is half the fun, so it almost goes without saying that PhotoDirector 5 facilitates sharing with popular social media sites and printing customized layouts. Plus, there's a free companion app included with purchase that lets users snap photos everywhere and edit anytime on Windows 8 tablets (but not iPad or Android, yet).

PhotoDirector 5 works on a Mac running OS X 10.6.8 or higher and on Windows with Windows 7, 8, Vista, and or XP 32 bit (with Service Pack 3). The standalone version, called PhotoDirector 5 Ultra, costs $99. The image manager also comes as part of a Windows suite that includes the new PowerDirector 12, ColorDirector 2, and AudioDirector 4.


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