You give us those nice bright colors /
You give us the greens of summers /
Makes you think all the world's a sunny day, oh yeah! /
I got a Nikon camera /
I love to take a photograph /
So Mama, don't take my Kodachrome away. - Paul Simon
What if I told you that I could make pictures you will take in 2014 better? Not bad. But, what if I told you I could help you make pictures you took in 2004 much better? With Perfectly Clear, I can do just that, all without a time machine.
Perfectly Clear comes in several flavors. It is available as a plug-in for Photoshop and Lightroom and also as stand-alone apps for Android and iOS.
The Android app may have you rethink what it is possible to do with your phone's camera. It adds so many features to your vanilla camera phone you may be shocked. I use it as my go-to way to take pictures on my MotoX.
It is hard to talk about Perfectly Clear without sounding like one of those "but-wait-there's-more" infomercials. If your phone doesn't already support it, Perfectly Clear gives you panorama creation that automatically stitches together a series of images into a large widescreen image. It also does automatic HDR capture - and within that mode there are multiple settings that yield "realistic" or "artistic" renderings. There is a portrait mode that will automatically snap pictures when your subject is smiling and with eyes open.
You know those commercials that tout a particular camera-phone's ability to take a number of shots with a single press of the button so that you get the best, unobstructed, smilingest picture? Well, Perfectly Clear gives you that in the app.
There are functions to make portraits look better, fix skin tone, and whiten teeth and brighten eyes.
All of that is in addition to what Perfectly Clear does best, and that is bringing out the best color and clarity from your pictures. The first time you see it in action I think you will be amazed. With my camera-phone and my SLR, it appeared that Perfectly Clear literally removed a piece of gauze from over the lens of the camera. Everything looked, well...Kodachrome. The colors become vivid, the darks darker, the midtones crisper.
The iOS app, not tested, is similar, but doesn't have all of the same features of the newer Android version.
There is a Black-Friday (2013) sale going on, making the app only 99 cents. Even at its normal 2.99 price point it is the best money you can spend on phone based photography.
As for the Photoshop and Lightroom plug-ins, one word: Phenomenal. In fact, Perfectly Clear is now where I start all my digital photo developing. So often, it just gets detail and color better than I could. And it does it in seconds, rather than countless minutes if I do it by hand. I find that much of the time it isn't necessary to turn to the more complicated plug-ins in my arsenal. And, it is so easy.
Now, there is a dark side to Perfectly Clear. First, it definitely gives your pictures a 'look'. Like Kodachrome, the excited colors and vivid contrast may not be what you intended to bring out in a subject. Unlike many other plug-ins, there aren't many sliders or options. Yes, you can dial it down a bit, but essentially, this is an automated, patented process. If you shoot largely in manual mode and are a master of exposure, you might not want Perfectly Clear to do its magic on every shot. You might lose some subtlety. This is particularly the case in atmospheric pictures where Perfectly Clear tends to try to "fix".
The plug-in is available in a free 30 day trial, so you can test it out for yourself. As of this writing the plug-ins are on sale for $99 each or $124.50 for both versions. I don't believe there is another accessory you can buy for your camera for twice the price that will make your pictures look better.