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Is Anthropics New Photo Editor Really Smart?

I should probably start this by saying that I have no affiliation with Anthropics but I thought there latest offering was so curious it was worth a brief discussion. I have always been a big fan of their Portrait Professional software so when they advertised for beta testers for a new product I thought I'd give it a go. After being accepted into the Beta test programme for this photo editing software I now have a release version and it is available for all to buy. If you want to get the official line on this product you can by following this link to http://www.smartphotoeditor.com/

The basic idea behind the Smart Photo Editor is that by providing the tool with some information about the content of the photo that you're trying to edit, it can offer you the best filters and effects to style and polish your image. How does it do this? Well that's the really clever part. When you sign up to use the product you have the option of joining into a community of like minded users all looking for the perfect fixes for their images. Then, you start by giving the software a keyword (or you can browse through categories of edits). The keyword might be something as straightforward as "landscape" or as abstract as "horror". Once you've done that Smart Photo Editor then provides an selection of thumbnails showing your image with various effects applied. 

Smart Photo Editor ScreenshotIt is possible to go through each one in turn and rate it for its relevence to your keyword and this opinion is combined with the opinion of the rest of the community to determine how to order the filters for the next person using this keyword. Of course, you can be selfish and just use one without feeding back but that would hardly be the community spirit. Would it?

It is possible to go through each one in turn and rate it for its relevence to your keyword and this opinion is combined with the opinion of the rest of the community to determine how to order the filters for the next person using this keyword. Of course, you can be selfish and just use one without feeding back but that would hardly be the community spirit. Would it?

This community based approach is what I thought was particularly unique and clever about Smart Photo Editor and wasn't something that I'd ever seen before. The other community minded feature within this software is that the filters are extensable so I could create a filter and publish it to other users and it would join the database to be rated along side other filters. In theory then it's a self populating organic product. The more people using it the better it will get. 

So does it work? Well it certainly has a few bugs still. For example, in Windows it doesn't set the file type to link automatically to itself so when you click on files created in Smart Photo Editor they don't launch in the application. Furthermore, setting the file type manually to launch the application doesn't work either. Smart Photo Editor launches but without your image so you then have to open the image from within the software. Now given that the software doesn't integrate into Lightroom or Photoshop yet you're also prevented from manually setting up the relationship because of this bug. Also, the raw files I worked with weren't exporting correctly. Having said that, these are the types of bugs that shouldn't take them too long to address.

But what about trying to use the main feature of this tool? My approach was to take an image edited as usual with a combination of Lightroom and Photoshop and then try out Smart Photo Editor to see what I could make of the same raw image. The results are included below. As an editing tool it provides many features that you'd expect such as crop, image corrections etc. It's a bit slow and jerky in places and I often found myself desperate to launch Photoshop to quickly perform fixes that I struggled to achieve in Smart Photo Editor. It also comes with tools that perform simple spot healing healing type clones and a cleverly entitled "power line remover" which is specifically designed to remove powerlines from skies. It basically works ok but is no "Smart Fill".  

Smart Photo Editor features many of the tools you'd expect. Filters can be layered and masked. In fact, in a stroke of genius, after making a selection the software asks you to label the selection. It then uses the label to search for effects that may be appropriately applied. So calling the selection "Sky" would allow Smart Photo Editor to present filters that are particularly good when applied to a sky in a scene.

Comparison of ResultsBut all this is traditional thinking and to use Smart Photo Editor properly it's important to work in the way the tool was intended. After and little frustration at not being able to simply apply the edits I wanted I stopped doing that and instead looked at my image and considered what the mood of the image was. I went for "mystery" and almost immediately the software presented me with a filter that gave my image a feel that I thought improved its mysterious quality. Now that is what I would call smart.

But all this is traditional thinking and to use Smart Photo Editor properly it's important to work in the way the tool was intended. After and little frustration at not being able to simply apply the edits I wanted I stopped doing that and instead looked at my image and considered what the mood of the image was. I went for "mystery" and almost immediately the software presented me with a filter that gave my image a feel that I thought improved its mysterious quality. Now that is what I would call smart.

The idea behind Smart Photo Editor is new to me and I think demonstrates some very intelligent design on the part of Anthropics. The software still has some teething problems although the real power will start to shine one the community of users grows. Now the bit that really surprised me... the price. Sign up now for just £14.95 (normally £29.95). Now that's how you encourage growth in the community.