Plugs ’N Pixels looks at Athentech Perfectly Clear and Lucid
Athentech's Perfectly Clear has been listed here at Plugs 'N Pixels for a long time as one of the discounted products. When I first tried this plug-in, I assumed it was a basic one-click photo fixer that applied seemingly subtle adjustments to bad images, and I didn't understand why it was necessary. After all, most image editors and many other plug-ins already offer this type of correction capability. It was only recently that I finally "got" what this plug-in actually does, and as a result I have a newfound respect for it.
When Perfectly Clear version 2 first came out, I took a closer look at the under-the-hood patented technology makes it unique in the field of digital image correction. In this review I will describe some of that tech and try to show that Perfectly Clear does indeed live up to its billing to "make your best work better".
*Save 10% off ANY Athentech product using our coupon code “PLUGSNPIXELS” here
The interface is very straightforward. At left you see your image either in full preview or split-screen (horizontal or vertical, side-by-side mirror or cut down the middle without mirroring). At right are eight presets that cover a wide range of typical image deficiencies and difficulties. At lower right is the area where you can create, modify and delete your own custom presets, which appear in the pulldown menu just above.
For the main example above I chose one of my hazy summertime long-distance New York City views which isn't entirely useful in its original state, but after a trip through Perfectly Clear's Fix Tint preset looks a whole lot better. It reminds me of the restoration of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which removed centuries of grime, wax and smoke from Michelangelo's famous artwork.
Let's take a look at another photo from the same trip (below) which suffered from the same haze and tint problem and was effectively cured by the Perfectly Clear solution.
In this screenshot you'll notice I selected the Adjust tab (as opposed to Presets ahown in the clouds screenshot) to make custom adjustments to the stock settings, getting the image correction just the way I wanted it. The result looks exactly like dirt and grime were removed from a dirty window.
To make the before-and-after comparison easier, the preview pane is split down the middle for (in this case) a non-mirroring view that demonstrates the degree of correction taking place. The amazing thing is, it's so easy to get to this point of correction – click a preset and (maybe, usually not) make a few custom adjustments.
One thing that especially impresses me about Perfectly Clear is its ability to maintain highlight integrity while performing its adjustments. A perfect case in point is this sunset image (below). This is the original. Note the blown-out sun and pale clouds.
Using Perfectly Clear's Landscape preset, I was able to get better sky tones as well as darken the sun just enough to reveal a wisp of a cloud in front of it (below). Other software solutions I tried turned the sun a garish, artificial, digital-looking white.
Now let's investigate Perfectly Clear's Beautify function, new to version 2. The original, unretouched image of the model (at left) reveals skin blemishes and a bit of dark circles under her eyes. The Beautify+ preset imediately took care of these problems, and I used the "Eye Enlarge" adjustment slider to bring up the eyes a bit. No selection was necessary; Perfectly Clear knew where the eyes were (as well as the teeth for whitening and blemishes for removal). Less obvious is the Face Slimming I performed, again with the appropriate slider (you can see the Portrait sliders section in the screenshot further above).
JUST ARRIVED! As simple as PerfectlyClear is for pros, Athentech wanted to create something similar for everyday hobbyists. So using Perfectly Clear technology, they created Lucid for both desktop and mobile devices.