CyberLink PhotoDirector 10 Ultra review: Intriguing alternative to consumer Mac photo editors

CyberLink PhotoDirector is kind of a sleeper
in the Mac pantheon of desktop image editors. It competes with
Apple Photos, Adobe Photoshop Elements, Pixelmator, Luminar,
and other consumer imagers. CyberLink is mostly associated with
Windows, and PhotoDirector is the only cross platform item in
the company’s suite of multimedia prosumer apps.

Like many of CyberLink’s Windows apps, PhotoDirector 10 has its
own brand of sizzle that may prove appealing to Mac users,
especially those interested in turning their photos into works
of art.

The latest version of PhotoDirector offers multiple new layer
features, keystone correction, content aware clone, the ability
to separate imported GIFs into individual frames for
multi-exposure or multi-sequence images, and artificial
intelligence-based tricks, as well as tethered shooting, soft
proofing, template packs, and a new calendar view. That’s in
addition to fun and advanced features from previous versions,
such as 360-degree photo handling, cinemagraph creation,
multi-exposure images, face and body beautifiers,
video-to-photo face swapping, and more.

cyberlink photodirector mac keystone Jackie Dove

Just one click can correct keystone distortion.

cyberlink photodirector mac calendar view Jackie Dove

A new Calendar view sorts photos by year.

cyberlink photodirector mac gifs as frames Jackie Dove

Import an animated GIF as separate frames.

PhotoDirector 10 Ultra also includes 25GB of space on the
CyberLink Cloud so you can store, access, and work on your
images from anywhere you wish.

The art of presets

One-click photo presets lend easy-to-use creative variations to
your photos, letting you automatically choose among HDR, Black
& White, and Split Tone looks, as well as styles designed
specifically for portraits and landscapes.

PhotoDirector 10 comes with a number of built-in presets,
though tons of additional presets are available for individual
download from the company’s DirectorZone website and you can create your own
presets. While you can’t adjust the presets from the preset
pane, you can switch to the Manual pane, which contains the
needed controls.

cyberlink photodirector mac user created presets
Jackie Dove

You can create your own presets based on existing ones.

AI Styles

Everyone remembers
Prisma
. It was part of a wave of
server-based AI apps
that mesmerized viewers by
transforming photos into specific and recognizable artistic
styles. That concept lives to see another day in PhotoDirector
10.

cyberlink photodirector mac ai style transfer Jackie Dove

AI Style Transfer uses deep learning to style your photo.

Like Prisma, CyberLink’s AI Style Plugin uses deep learning to
produce brush strokes and color tones of artistic styles that
alter photos on the pixel level as opposed to applying external
filters. CyberLink’s AI Style Packs for PhotoDirector are
mostly paid add-ons that require separate download and
licenses, but there are a number of free samples built into the
program.

Tethered shooting and soft proofing

Tethered shooting is a handy studio technique that lets you
attach your camera to the computer as you shoot, allowing you
to tweak shutter speed, aperture, white balance, ISO as well as
trip the shutter. I was able to link my camera to the app and
could see the controls change dynamically on the camera readout
in real time as I altered them on-screen, but I could not get
the visual preview to appear on the screen before the shot.

That was disappointing, but the reason is that the feature was
developed using the camera companies’ SDK, which does not
enable a live screen preview within the app. Moreover, this
feature works only with certain Nikon and Canon cameras. If you
are looking forward to using this feature, make sure your
camera is supported via the list CyberLink has published.

cyberlink photodirector mac tethered shooting Jackie Dove

Attach your Nikon or Canon camera to your Mac to control
various settings from within the program.

Soft proofing lets you view simulated printer output on your
monitor and includes a gamut warning signaling color range
issues before you start wasting ink. While I was able to access
the program’s built-in color profiles, my own printer failed to
show up as a profile I could select, even though it showed up
in the regular printer dialog.

Content awareness

Adobe popularized content awareness with its Photoshop and
Photoshop Elements algorithms, while Pixelmator and others also
offer this easy way to remove unwanted objects from a scene
without destroying the integrity of your image.

With PhotoDirector, you can now duplicate, or move objects or
people within photos. I found this feature hit or miss, with
busier background fills less accurate than simpler ones. I also
found the performance in these operations somewhat slow on my
mid-2013 MacBook Air running the latest macOS.

cyberlink photodirector mac content aware clone
Jackie Dove
cyberlink photodirector mac content aware clone 2
Jackie Dove

Content aware clone is one of PhotoDirector’s new content
aware features. You can have as many pelicans as you want.

New layer features

Layer editing with Express Layer Templates offers the
flexibility to create unique compositions by combining images,
text and graphics with blending modes and masks. PhotoDirector
10 provides built-in layer-based layouts for consumer-oriented
web pages, framed photos, greeting cards, and memes, while
special effects like grunge, light leaks, scratch and lens
flare give family photographers tools to make unique
compositions for special occasions.

cyberlink photodirector mac express layer templates Jackie Dove

Express Layer Templates add all kinds of layer-based
shenanigans to your photos, and you are free to hide and
show any layer you want.

cyberlink photodirector mac clipping path Jackie Dove

Clipping Paths let you stuff images into text.

PhotoDirector 10 also introduces clipping masks, layer
grouping, and the ability to add new empty layers to projects,
all of which are fairly standard features for most popular
image editors catering to enthusiasts. These features worked as
expected.

cyberlink photodirector mac adjustment layers Jackie Dove

Adjustment layers, a common photo editing feature for
non-destructive editing, got added to version 10.

Bottom line

Several features distinguish CyberLink PhotoDirector 10 Ultra
from its competitors, offering a fun, intriguing take on
various advanced and novel photographic techniques. While this
version catches up to other popular image editors in its
approach to layers and clipping masks, the ability to apply AI
styles, and do tethered shooting and soft proofing present an
alternate angle on consumer photography.

That said, certain features did not work as expected or were
not as useful as I had hoped, and performance in some
computational operations could take awhile. A trial version is
available, allowing you to make sure you’re getting everything
you want from the app before forking over your cash.

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