Cyberlink PhotoDirector 9 Ultra

Cyberlink PhotoDirector 9 Ultra
Developed by: Cyberlink
Ranked: 1st - Best buy
Overall rating:
Best price: $69.99
Discount coupon available: Yes. To get 15% off enter: NEWPHD when at the shopping cart.

Purchase:

Stephen
Qualtrough

Reviewer

Technology should make our lives easier

Cyberlink PhotoDirector 9 Ultra is awarded best buy

Review summary

Good points Cyberlink PhotoDirector 9 Ultra review good points

• Supports a large range of RAW camera formats and lens profiles.

• Comes with a wealth of preset options for enhancing images.

• Effectively removes unwanted objects from the foreground.

• Smart face recognition tagging feature for photo management.

• Finds and organises groups of photos quickly.

Bad points Cyberlink PhotoDirector 9 Ultra review bad points

• No GEO tagging capabilities.

Our verdict

Cyberlink PhotoDirector 9 ULTRA is an excellent choice for organising, editing and sharing your photographs. It's great for creating photos bursting with creativity that stand out from the crowd.

Screenshot of Cyberlink PhotoDirector 9 Ultra 1 Screenshot of Cyberlink PhotoDirector 9 Ultra 2 Screenshot of Cyberlink PhotoDirector 9 Ultra 3



Full review

PhotoDirector use to be characterized by its simplicity and affordability, but also its distinct lack of advanced features. If you wanted something more powerful Adobe products were the only way forward. But in recent years after a succession of significant upgrades the photo management and editing suite is a threat to Adobe's crown.

PhotoDirector now comes in two editions: Deluxe & Ultra. This review is on "Ultra" which is the top of the range offering. If you drop down a level to "Deluxe", there are no layer editing options, multi-exposure tools, 2D panoramas, blur or motion tools, split toning or auto lens correction.

The Apple Mac version of PhotoDirector is only available in Ultra, which is because ColorDirector is not supported on the platform.

PhotoDirector is a one-off license fee without future subscription fees. A fully functional 30 day trial is available. It also supports high DPI (Dots per inch) monitors.

Installation

You can obtain the program as a download or single DVD. If you purchase the DVD it comes with a quick start guide.

Cyberlink recommend you have 1GB of hard disk space and 2GB of memory available on your computer. The installation file is 365MB.

Once you've entered the license key, registering the software is optional. You are not required to enter unnecessary information like with other packages.

Latest version 9
Fully functional trial Yes. 30 days.
Supports high DPI monitors Yes (including 4K). the
OS PC Windows 10, 8/8.1 & 7.
OS Mac Mac OS X v10.9 +
Memory (RAM) 2GB
Hard drive space 1GB

Getting started

Once you've entered the license key, registering the software is optional. You are not required to enter unnecessary information like with other packages.

The interface design has a clear, well organised workflow which follows the conventions of standard photo editors like Photoshop.

The workflow is comprised of six modules: Library, Adjustment, Edit, Layers, Slideshow & Print. As you navigate between modules the left hand panel changes while the right hand window containing both the photo viewer and photo browser panel remains constant. This is so you can apply multiple changes to the same image.

You can't detach and float the panels which is something we would like to see in future.

If you have a second monitor you can preview full-scale images of your work in progress.

You can zoom in and out of photos using either the magnifier glass tool or the list of preset zoom sizes (including screen size fit).

Import

PhotoDirector supports the import of JPG, TIFF, PNG, PHI files. It also supports a wide range of proprietary RAW formats. The colour and quality of the converted image was very good.

You have the option to include subfolders and exclude possible duplicates. You can reference your files in their current location or create a copy. If you do create a copy, you can choose to have your files renamed. During the import process you can apply presets and copyright information.

One of the most recent additions to PhotoDirector is the Video-to-Photo feature set. It's a little more exciting than it's name suggests.

This a one directional import tool that allows you to import video files and extract single stills which can be edited or used to create panoramic or multiple exposure images.

PhotoDirector supports over 20 different video formats on import including AVI, MPG, MP4 and MOV.

During my own tests the "True Theatre" adjustment setting appeared to reduce the detail of picture, so I disabled that setting.

Supported image files JPG, TIFF, PNG and PHI.
Supported video files AVI, MPG, MP4 and MOV.
Import 4K video Yes

Organise

The "Library" module is where you organise your photographs. There is no separate image organiser like with Photoshop Elements.

You can import individual files or folders from your computer or from an external device. You can also import from the Cyberlink Cloud (more about that later in the review).

Projects - Under project you can see the current project name. You can have as many (or as little) projects as you wish.

You can create multiple projects, although for the average user you'll find one is enough. To switch between projects, the program will need to restart.

Projects are saved as .PHD files. They can also be uploaded to the cloud.

Smart Collection - CyberLink automatically organizes photos into collections or as I prefer to call them "filters" which makes it easier to sort through photographs. It's deemed as "smart" because whenever you import or rate photos the collection is updated automatically.

You can create your own smart collection. There are a large number of helpful filter options. You can filter by rating, flags and labels.

Folders - is a mirror of your computers folder structure. Nothing exciting here and fairly self explanatory. However the software doesn't sync automatically and its something you may need to do if you have added files or folders while using PhotoDirector.

Albums - is the most useful feature set. You can create your own albums with a category name such as "Flowers" or "Food" and then add photos by dragging and dropping them into the album. There are "albums" and "album sets". Albums contain photos, whereas album sets contain albums. So for example your album set would be called "Holiday", and you albums within would be called "Iceland 2015" or "Hawaii 2017".

Tags - offers an even more granular way to organise photos. Simple create a tag and drag and drop selected photo to apply the tag.

Selection & rejection flags Yes
1-5 star ratings Yes
Color labels Yes
Face recognition tagging Yes

Adjustments

The adjustment module comes with "Manual" or "Preset" adjustment tabs.

Manual - Manual adjustments are sub-divided into "Histogram", "Regional tools" and "Global tools". Comes with standard adjustments such as white balance, sharpness and noise removal.

If your lens manufacturer is not supported, there are plenty of manual adjustments that compensate for lens distortion.

Crop Yes
Spot removal Yes
Red eye removal Yes

Presets - Presets are grouped adjustments. Once you have created your preset it can be applied quickly and consistently to other photos. HDR (High Dynamic Range) effects, B&W.

Tone, white balance, curve and level adjustments.

There are a bunch included by default, you can create your own or download them from the DirectorZone community. You can upload your own then others in the community can take advantage of your preset.

You can see a split view of a photo before and after the adjustment or edit was made.

There is history panel available that lets you see all of the edits you have made to an image ordered chronologically. If you click on any of the edits, you see a preview of the image at any point in time and you can revert back instantly if needed.

Editing

If your someone who likes to enhance your own photographs by using the techniques deployed by fashion magazines on cover there are beautification and body slimming tools.

Face shaper Yes
Shine remover Yes
Eye enlarger Yes
Eye bag remover Yes
Eye blinger Yes
Wrinkle remover Yes
Teeth whitener Yes

My biggest frustration with the software (and one I very much hope they will overcome in the future) is the need to save a temporary copy of the image you are editing between modes.

You can choose to disable notifications, they are annoying because they appear so frequently, but equally you risk forgetting to save the image.

Layers

Layers can often be some what confusing experience. There was an inevitable learning curve, but I found myself soon getting the hang of it.

The "layer" mode supports upto 100 layers per photograph and offers 16 different layer blending modes including Darken, Multiply and Linear Burn.

You can combine two images together and merge them into one.

Note: Layer editing is not available in the Deluxe edition.

Maximum number of layers per photo 100
Available blending modes 16. Darken, Multiply, Linear Burn, Lighten, Screen, Linear Dodge.
Add layer text Yes
Layer merge Yes

Sharing

You can select which share options are made available to you. So if you don't have a Facebook account you want to share too, you can remove that option.

Give Cyberlink permission to access your Facebook account.

Share to Facebook Yes
Share to Flickr Yes
Share to YouTube Yes
Send to email Yes, but Microsoft Outlook only.

Exporting

Profiles store export settings, so that they can be applied to future exports.

Backup

Backup comes in the form of CyberLink's Cloud Services. You recieve 25GB of free storage space for one year as an incentive to join. If you have the Suite edition you get 50 GB free. Otherwise fee based subscriptions to use the Cloud service are yearly and are dependent on how much storage space you use in MBs.

Cyberlink Cloud is available accross all of Cyberlink's products, but particularly benefits users of PhotoDirector.

It provides a backup of your photos, music, videos. Obviously that prevents against data loss, but also allow you access your content on multiple devices. It also backs up projects, templates and program preferences.

Cloud backup Yes
Free space Yes. 25GB with "Ultra" for first year. 50GB with "Suite" for the first year.
Paid space Yes. 10GB, 20GB, 50GB and 100GB subscriptions paid monthly.

Community

Several years ago Cyberlink created an online community called "DirectorZone" which was originally intended for users of its video editing software to upload and share video creations. Building upon its success DirectorZone was expanded to include all of it's software product offerings including PhotoDirector. It's since become a popular destination for PhotoDirector users. It's also free to use, but you will need to sign up to an account for access.

To start with there are thousands of templates for users to download for free. Many of them have been created by Cyberlink themselves, but the vast majority have been created by community members. Templates for PhotoDirector come in the form of "Photo Presets" (which are adjustments) and "Express Layer Templates". You can search and filter on them based style (scenery, people, HDR.. ), number of downloads, likes or views. Once you have downloaded them and imported them into Cyberlink to use, you can then rate and comment on them for other community members to see.

Tip: Make sure to visit the "PhotoDirector Photo Gallery" as it showcases work by other PhotoDirector users.

Slideshow

To create your own slideshow you start by dragging and dropping your selected photos into the preview panel. Next you can then apply a transition effect between the photos: "Fade", "Wipe Left Soft" or "Motion" as well as set the aspect ratio: 16:9 or 4:3 and duration between the image transitions. You then have the option of applying background music to the slideshow. There are five included music tracks that you can apply, but you can also add your own in MP3 format. (Tip: Selecting "Fit to music" for the image transition definitely enhances the slideshow).

If you want to add a sense of chronology to your photos then you're likely to be disappointed as there is no way to order the photograph's which is something you're more than likely to want to do.

Add text captions Yes
Add transitions Yes. Three available: "Fade", "Wipe Left Soft" or "Motion".
Add music Yes. Five available.
Share to YouTube Yes
Export file formats MP4, WMV

Printing

If you want to print your photos then PhotoDirector provides plenty of options.

Set paper size Yes. A4, A5, custom.
Set page grid Yes. Rows x Columns
Set print resolution Yes in PPI.
Select number of copies Yes
Add watermarks Yes

Mobile app

The mobile app is available for both Apple iOS and Android devices. It's a freemium product offering which means it's totally free to use, but contains a set of advance features reserved only for those willing to pay.

There are three main modules: Edit, Camera and Collage. The most useful is "Edit" mode that allows you to perform many of the adjustments available in PhotoDirector.

The sub-navigation has active links to the template store, video tutorials, settings and shop.

If you're looking for some help using the app there are some very limited FAQs contained within settings. There are video tutorials which load in on demand from YouTube which are short, but succinct.

If you do wish to upgrade to fully working version you will get higher output resolutions, no advertisements, unlimited use of the removal tool and no Cyberlink watermarks on collage templates.

The stickers are really fun, but it would be great if there was more of them available.

Help & Support

Telephone support for technical issues is only available as an extra paid for service. They offer two month support packages purchased individually that give you unlimited technical support during that period. The service is only available for US and Canadian customers.

Telephone support for installation issues is provided for free.

Video tutorials are located within the Director Zone.

There are some excellent "How to videos" including "Organize Your Photo Collection", "Create HDR shots", "Correct Common Lens Related Distortions" and "Applying a Radial Filter".

Within PhotoDirector is a simple help file with a contents section, index of topics and search facility.

Telephone support Yes
Video tutorials Yes
Help files Yes
FAQs Yes
Forum Yes

Overall

Cyberlink has clearly tried to develop a viable alternative to Photoshop Lightroom, but at a reduced cost. Although not quite there, it is tantalisingly close and based on value for money Cyberlink PhotoDirector 9 ULTRA definitely deserves our "Best Buy Award" for photo editing software.


Your questions ..


Q. What is DirectorZone?
DirectorZone is an online resource created by Cyberlink for users of its products. You can download presets and share photo creations.

Q. Is DirectorZone free?
Yes

Q. Can you add copywrite symbols?
Yes, using the watermark creation tool.

Q. What is ColorDirector?
It's an entry level video editing package created by Cyberlink which is focused on color and lighting effects.

Q. Is ColorDirector available on the Apple Mac?
No

Q. Can I upgrade PhotoDirector for free?
No

Q. Does it work on Windows 10?
Versions 8 and above are compatible with Windows 10.

Q. Can you make photo slideshows?
Yes

Q. What is the difference between Basic and Ultra versions?
"Deluxe" does not include layer editing, 360 photo editing, panorama from video, blur tools, motion blur, split toning, auto lens correction, radial fiilters and multi exposure image creation. "Ultra" is not available for Apple Mac computers.

Q. Is the mobile app free?
Yes and no. It's currently a "freemium" product which means that it is free to use, but offers advance features at extra cost.

Q. Do I need to purchase PhotoDirector to use the mobile app?
No

Q. What is the difference between Mac & PC versions?
"Deluxe" versions of the software are identical. "Ultra" version is not available for Apple Mac.

Q. Does PhotoDirector use and maintain reference files?
It uses reference files and does not move or alter them.

Q. What is the difference between HDR and Bracket HDR?
"HDR" is an artifical effect applied to a single source image. Bracket HDR is created (as the effect was originally intended) by using multiple images.

Q. Is the Cyberlink Cloud service free to use?
No. However if you purchase the "Ultra" version of the software you recieve 25GB of free space for one year.

Q. What is TrueTheatre adjustments?
TrueTheater is video and audio enhancement technology developed by Cyberlink.


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Ratings breakdown

Overall
 received a rating of 5 for Overall
Setup
 received a rating of 5 for Setup
Importing
 received a rating of 5 for Importing
Photo editing
 received a rating of 5 for Photo editing
Features
 received a rating of 5 for Features
Organizing
 received a rating of 5 for Organizing
Sharing
 received a rating of 5 for Sharing
Ease of use
 received a rating of 5 for Ease of use
Help & support
 received a rating of 5 for Help & support