AutoFX AutoEye 2.0

Reviewed by: Mario Georgiou, December 2004, send e-mail
Published by: AutoFX Software, go to the web site
Requires: Pentium III or faster CPU, 256MB RAM, 15MB free hard disk space, Windows 98/NT/2000/ME/XP; Power Mac G3, G4 or G5, 256MB RAM, 15MB free hard disk space, OS 9 or higher/OSX Native
MSRP: US$129.00 (full version), US$79.00 (upgrade from v1.0)

Photoshop users like plug-ins and AutoFX produces some of the best plug-ins available. AutoFX programs also work as standalone products allowing you to use them without either having to own or load Photoshop. AutoEye is an automated enhancement tool for improving your photos. The application works equally well on scanned images and those captured with digital cameras. It is aimed at the user who really doesn't want to spend a lot of time tweaking images.

AutoFX products have very distinct looking user interfaces and while some may find this sort of graphical user interface (GUI) not to their preference, it does perform very well and is consistent throughout AutoFX's other products. The operations in AutoEye are based on a patented process called Intelligent Visual Image Technology (IVIT), and is designed to carefully improve and enhance images. The enhancement engine in AutoEye is very powerful and allows you to repair and improve images using a number of controls. AutoEye also does a fair job of restoring detail and color to your images.

The Enhancement Controls allow you to auto enhance your image using one of four predefined strength settings. With these controls you can remove color cast, increase detail, smooth visual noise and remove moiré in your images. The adjustments for these allow for some very nice effects to be applied to your images as well as varying levels of enhancement.

The Color Controls provide a range of adjustments and modifications with which you can fine tune RGB values, hue, saturation, brightness, contrast and tonal range.

The Creative Controls found in this product are also very nice, and can be used to strengthen and intensify images to add a little more punch. You can also blur or soften images and add grain for that old world look. You can apply tonal effects to create some very nice atmospheric qualities.

All of these controls can be applied to an entire image, or to small sections with the use of the selection tool. Controls in the application are enhanced by a number of features such as memory dots for recording a point in your edit process that you can return to at any time without losing your changes, and a button which allows you to view the original image so that you can compare your changes.

The Presets setting can be used to apply a nice range of canned effects and adjustments to your images. I found many of the presets a little too rich for my taste—it's almost like eating a honey-soaked cake. I realize that based upon the fact that the tool is aimed in part at the consumer or amateur user, rather than only the seasoned professional, it does achieve results that work. The ability to manually tune these corrections more than compensates for those of us who are more judicious in the application of so-called enhancing effects however. The fact that you can also build and save your own library of presets is delightful and of tremendous benefit especially when processing large batches of images. The support for loading and saving Native Photoshop and a number of other image file formats was also a boon.

AutoFX provides easy to follow quick start manuals and free technical support via e-mail. The product manual is supplied in the form of a PDF file and there are also help bubbles within the application which pop up when you hover the mouse over a button or control. The manual is fairly short but it covers much of what you need to know in order to make productive and creative use of AutoEye. I was a little disappointed that there were no video tutorials for this product and that AutoFX had no online forums in which to obtain support information, interact with other AutoFX users and so on.

Cons: Canned settings a little on the rich side. Interface may annoy some. Although AutoEye provides a decent grain control in the Creative Controls area, I prefer to add grain and related effects using utilities dedicated to this typing of image editing. When using Creative Controls too, it's very easy to overdo image strength and intensity. I'd love to see support for Camera RAW format.

Pros: Although much of what is done with AutoEye can be achieved directly within Photoshop by experienced graphic artists, it all goes infinitely faster for non-professionals with AutoEye. Plenty of pros will appreciate AutoEye too. Works as a Photoshop plug-in or as a standalone program. Fast effects application and image control responses. Easy to use. Very powerful with a range of effects and enhancement capabilities which make it a great foundation for a well-equipped image editing toolbox.

AutoFX pay a lot of attention to the design and usability of their tools and it shows in AutoEye 2.0. The software is extremely useful. As a tool for making quick changes to your images it does its job very well. I highly recommended this product for any active digital photographer. Have fun!

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