AKVIS Enhancer 9AKVIS Enhancer 9.2 is a multipurpose image utility that’s available as a standalone application or a Photoshop plug-in. The standalone version has three modes of operation: Enhancer, Focus, and HDR (high-dynamic range), while the plug-in version doesn’t support HDR.

In Enhancer mode, the application attempts to enhance images by intensifying color transitions between adjacent pixels. In testing, the results were uneven. Overall, most images were improved, but the default settings tended to oversaturate the images. Controls allow you to fine-tune the settings and save them as a custom setting. Enhancer also recovers lost detail in shadows, but the recovered areas exhibited an unacceptable amount of noise for professional use.

Focus mode selectively improves sharpness of mildly out-of-focus areas of a photo, but it won’t convert an out-of-focus photo into a sharp one. In some tests, the autofocus focused on the wrong subject or sharpness was lost due to depth of field. To use Focus mode, isolate the area to be brought back into focus by outlining it with the drawing tools. The program made the blurry areas a little crisper if they weren’t too large and there was sufficient detail to recover.

When using HDR mode from the standalone application, if you shoot RAW files, it’s necessary to convert them to a format that Enhancer accepts (I used 8-bit RGB TIFF). My test images of the Colosseum in Rome resulted in a properly exposed sky while retaining details inside the tunnel entrances. Alignment of the different images is done automatically. My test images were shot without a tripod, which made alignment problematic but still it did an okay job. It didn’t remove ghosts (subjects in the photo that move between frames). The finished HDR images were also a little oversaturated but can be corrected by fine-tuning the settings.—Dave Huss

PRICE: $81 (Standalone); $69 (Plug-in)
FROM: AKVIS Software Inc.
WEB: http://akvis.com

HOT Simplifies HDR creation
NOT Excessive noise in shadow recovery