Photo Genetics

Reviewed by: Howard Carson, send e-mail
Published by: Q-Research Inc., go to the web site
Requires: Windows 95, 98, NT4, MacOS - no other information available
MSRP: $29.95

According to the Q-Research, "millions have been invested in film technology and optics, more millions have been invested in software and digital technology to create the perfect image and [...] people are individuals [and] every individual sees things differently. What is perfect to one person, Q-Research goes on to say, is too yellow to another or too bright to [someone else]. Q-Research offers technology that allows every person to create [the] perfect image based on how that individual sees the world. For the first time ever, evolutionary strategies and genetic algorithms have been applied to digital image processing."

Actually, the entire digital imaging industry natters on about evolutionary strategies, hot new algorithms, and billions (not millions) have been invested in the pursuit of the perfect image. The industry as a whole has actually hit the target quite often. Adobe PhotoShop, Jasc PaintShop Pro, Corel PhotoPaint and quite a few other titles are in daily use by professionals and hobbyists around the world who hit their image processing 'targets' every day. But Photo Genetics, Q-Research says, is aimed at the rest of us (non-professionals all), and we tested on that basis only.

We installed and tested Photo Genetics on a Hewlett-Packard Pavilion 8575C, Pentium III/500 MHz with 128MB RAM, and an nVidia TNT Riva graphics card. We chose test photo prints of family at the cottage during the late 60s and early 70s. The colors had changed over the years. The greens appeared muddy brown and the yellows were almost orange, so the general deterioration was very noticeable. We chose photos without any obvious scratches, because Photo Genetics has no scratch removal feature. We scanned all the photo prints using a high quality workhorse (Microtek E5 flat bed SCSI scanner), and saved the results as uncompressed 32-bit TIFs.

The Evaluator screen is the starting point after launching the software. There aren't any traditional photo editing and processing tools here - you can only crop, remove red-eye, rotate left or right 90 degrees, and resize. There also aren't any photo or special effects. To begin processing a scanned image, we selected one of the 15 so-called Genotypes from a scrollable list on the right side of the screen. The Genotypes are really the heart and soul of Photo Genetics and are the basis of everything you do to improve your photos. The Genotype intensity and color temperature are adjustable via a popup slider dialog.

We put our photo through several different color filters (variations on grey, red, blue, and green) in order to see which color had faded or changed the most. We then clicked the Start Evolution button which automatically created and displayed before & after previews in the main viewing area. A small slider at the bottom of the window was then used to rate the before & after effect. You can decide whether or not the filters are having a beneficial effect or a negative effect. The software remembers your choice. If you set the slider to 'a little bit better' several times in a row for example, the software soon decides on its own to make a permanent change. We performed several Evolutions and when we were satisfied with the result, clicked the Stop Evolution button and saved the handiwork. The results, after a few minutes of give and take, were quite good. It felt as though the software was learning about our imaging tastes as went. BMP, JPEG, and uncompressed TIF file formats are supported for saving.

Cons: Hitting F1 or clicking the Help menu caused the software to hang, The grey scale-based color filters converted the preview to grey scale but didn't apply any visible color until we clicked and released the genotype intensity slider (without actually moving it). When you start an Evolution using a grey scale color filter, the 'Before' preview is an all-grey version rather than the original or the Genotype intensity setting (strange functionality for a WYSIWYG photo processor). There doesn't appear to be any way of stopping an Evolution in progress - if you've made bad choice you have to start over. Photo Genetics could benefit from some serious attention by a decent UI designer, especially where controls are concerned. There are vast areas of blank grey in the UI which should be used for full time display of the Genotype intensity, color temperature, start/stop Evolution, and decision sliders. No import of most compressed TIFs. Somewhat higher priced than we like, considering the fact that this software is a one-trick pony. If you're going to get into old photos, you will need to do scratch removal on some of them, a feature noticeably absent in Photo Genetics.

Pros: Despite the difficulties noted above we managed to get very nice results with comparatively little effort. The demo tutorial on the web site gave us the hints we needed to get going in the absence of a working online help system. Stick with BMP and JPEG files for best results because some TIFs won't load. Some interesting add-ons are available from the Q-Research web site such as Dewarp (for correcting edge curvature resulting from the use of wide angle lenses), and Isocolor (which essentially adds color saturation evolution). All in all, a package worth checking out.

Letters to the Editor are welcome and occasionally abused in public. Send e-mail to:




© Copyright 2000-2006 All rights reserved. legal notice
home | previous reviews | forums | about us | search | store | subscribe


Forums Search Home Previous Reviews About Us Store Subscribe