Mediachance Photo-Brush 3

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Impressive photo editing power designed with the keen photographer in mind.

Photo-Brush stands out from the crowd and not just for its budget price. The program is unique in that it's produced by a single developer - Roman Voska, the man behind the excellent RealDRAW Pro - who is himself a keen photographer and uses his own practical experience to great effect.

This is apparent in a whole host of features such as the ability to remove the barrel and pincushion distortions common when working with wide angles and high levels of zoom and a perspective correction command to produce a face-on version of an image that you had to shoot at an angle. Then there's little things like the ability to reset the date of the file to when the photo was taken rather than when it was edited. Most obviously there's the unique Camera Info palette which shows you the embedded EXIF-based data on how the photo was taken - flash, exposure and so on - which can help you decide on the best enhancement strategy.

So what enhancement power is on offer? For the price it's pretty extraordinary. There are effective automatic commands for adjusting levels and colour and an impressive one-click overall enhancement alongside the most important dialogs for managing the photo's tone-map as levels and curves. There are also a number of options designed to simulate traditional ways of working such as the Exposure Compensation command which works in time-honoured EV (Exposure Value) units and the Filter-SIM command which simulates Kodak Wratten lens filters.

It's with its local retouching that Photo-Brush really lives up to its name. The program provides a whole host of brushes for changing contrast, brightness, saturation, hue and so on. It's even better for removing imperfections with separate brushes for removing red eye, spots, lines and skin blemishes and of course there's a cloning tool. Nice touches include the ability to convert any section of the image into a seamless texture that you can then apply elsewhere and an Original brush for locally undoing changes. And if you want to get creative with your photos, Photo-Brush again provides a wide range of interactive brushes, including images hoses and distortion effects, along with a range of creative filters and full support for third-party Photoshop plug-ins.

It's important not to get carried away. In particular, without a layering system, Photo-Brush isn't the right program to create photocompositions and, apart from the very crude thumbnailed browser, there are no capabilities for handling multiple images - archiving, emailing and so on. And you can forget about output options other than basic print.

Ultimately, while Photo-Brush provides amazing editing power for the price, it's unlikely to fill all your requirements.

Ease of Use
Value for Money

ratings out of 6

system requirements Pentium, 128MB of RAM, Windows 95, 98, ME, 2000 or XP .

Tom Arah

August 2004

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