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Anthropics Smart Photo Editor Review (Pt. 1)

Background and First Impressions

I recently noticed that one of the things attracting people to this site is a review of Anthropics Smart Photo Editor. While that’s a good thing, the review is now a year old and the product has moved on quite dramatically since that first review. For this reason I thought it was time to revisit the product so I’ve updated to version 1.10.14 from 1.4 and now I’m going to see if it offers enough for me to include it into my normal workflow which is Lightroom driven.

I should say in the spirit of full disclosure that I have no affiliation with Anthropics and do not profit in any way from this review.

Anthropics is most famous for its product “Portrait Professional” which was probably one of the first tools dedicated to portrait retouching and continues to be one of the strongest products of its type on the market. The less well known application “Smart Photo Editor” was introduced a year or two ago and is advertised as “The community powered effects editor”. The whole approach of the product seems quite unique in that it’s based around the idea that effects can be developed by users and then published for others to use. So if I create an effect that is great for portraits I can publish this and others will be able to look at all the portrait effects and get mine to play with.

After realising just how large this application is I decided to split the review into 4 parts.

  1. Background and General Impressions
  2. Photo Editing
  3. Photo Effects
  4. Conclusion

Some of the concepts are quite difficult to convey properly in a blog post like this but if there is some demand I might have a go at making some video tutorial/reviews for it.

Workflow

This was my biggest bugbear with Smart Photo Editor: there was no direct Lightroom or Photoshop integration. Unfortunately there is still no direct integration provided with Smart Photo Editor although now a bug has been fixed with the standard drag and drop functionality supported so I have been able to set up a custom application link from Lightroom which does allow simple integration to take place. You have to be careful about where you save files to ensure that Lightroom picks it back up but it works OK which is a big bonus for me.

Smart Photo Editor supports its own non-destructive workflow and each change made is recorded and displayed in a visual history running across the top of the screen. It is possible to save this full history in a dedicated session file called a “.pe” file. Of course this file is unrecognised by other applications so I have to admit I tend to do single trips into Smart Editor starting from a “.tiff” file and saving back to a “.tiff” file. It’s also possible to work with a .jpg. Another feature which may prove useful to some is that it’s possible to load raw files directly into the application although I haven’t explored this too much to check the level of support.

So far so good; with a little care I can now integrate Smart Photo Editor into my workflow. So having launched an image for editing we have a fairly clean and modern interface waiting for us to start work.

Initial screen after loading an image into Anthropics Smart Photo Editor

.All the way through using this application, little yellow boxes keep popping up with helpful hints. This proves really helpful to start with because there are a few hidden gems that make the tool more powerful. They quickly become annoying as they repeat themselves although they can be disabled in the configuration. I'm relucant to disable them though because I still worry I might miss something!

As you can see, the interface is clean and doesn’t look too scary. The thing I find a little odd (especially given my job as a software designer) is that the first options are displayed on the far right meaning that you work right to left typically and not left to right. This is better on a touch screen but does feel counter intuitive on a normal workstation. Also, the effect options appear at the top of the editing options with the basic editing functions below. My instinct would be to have the basic editing tools first so again there’s a more intuitive workflow suggested by the interface. i.e. fix, crop, straighten, rotate first and then start looking at the application of effects. Perhaps that’s just a personal thing or perhaps Anthropics are reinfocing the effects functionality and making standard image editing secondary?

Click here to read part 2 of this review which looks at the image enhancement tools in the Smart Photo Editor. Visit the Smart Photo Editor website to find out more about this tool.