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Free Digital Photo Enhancer program
February 13, 2002 3:02 PM   Subscribe

Free Digital Photo Enhancer program ~~ So many of you have visited my Pencam site, and know that I've become somewhat obsessive about taking pictures with an inexpensive digital camera. In order to make the pics I take look even halfway decent, I have to pull all of them into Photoshop, and tweak them a bit, adjusting the contrast, etc. I enjoy doing it, but it can be time consuming. Now, a company called Media Chance has come to the rescue. They're giving away a cool little application that will automagically enhance your digital photos. It's really quite something. PC only, I'm afraid... still. If you've been dissatisfied with the results of your digital camera, it's worth checking out.
posted by crunchland (26 comments total)

 
Looks like it combines several processing tricks the pros use (like that Kodak ad, where they want you to think it's really the film). This could be very handy, whether you made the image or not. I wonder how long it will take to process all my pr0n ...
posted by dhartung at 3:41 PM on February 13, 2002


Its missing color correction. Not such a big deal for the cameras that do auto color correction but for scans and cameras that don't, it sure is nice to take that blue or red cast out of the picture and get it closer to natural colors. Also missing a resize for throwing pics up on a site or emailing them to your bandwidth challenged friends and family.
posted by mutagen at 3:50 PM on February 13, 2002


mutagen said: Its missing color correction. Not such a big deal for the cameras that do auto color correction but for scans and cameras that don't, it sure is nice to take that blue or red cast out of the picture and get it closer to natural colors. Also missing a resize for throwing pics up on a site or emailing them to your bandwidth challenged friends and family.


Not to mention that it is lacking the photoshop filters, a web server , scripting capabilities, and instant messaging. Its a free utility not an application!

The price point is perfect for me. I might just drag my agfa ephoto out of the closet now...
posted by srboisvert at 4:18 PM on February 13, 2002


"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

Arthur C. Clarke
posted by sharksandwich at 4:42 PM on February 13, 2002


Agfa ePhoto sucks. Nothing can make pictures taken by it look good. :)
posted by riffola at 4:45 PM on February 13, 2002


If you're a Mac OS X user, PixelNHance is a great piece of freeware which does all the usual color correction stuff and more.
posted by crayfish at 4:47 PM on February 13, 2002


Its a free utility not an application!


Of course, you can get photoshop filters, a web server, scripting capabilities, and instant messaging for free as well. In fact, I don't remember the last time I've paid for a piece of software (aside from games, of course). And I'm perfectly delighted with the price!
posted by mr_roboto at 4:49 PM on February 13, 2002


They have a free color tool as well: ColorCastFX. Don't know how well it works yet.
posted by smackfu at 5:24 PM on February 13, 2002


Takes all the fun out of the process of "enhancing" photos.
posted by fuq at 5:56 PM on February 13, 2002


I kind of wish it had some rudimentary image manipulation abilities, like rotating or flipping the images... but I know I'm just being picky.
posted by crunchland at 6:12 PM on February 13, 2002


So, what's the best way to do this with Photoshop? I usually batch convert mine with AutoLevels. I stay away from AutoContrast because I don't like the results. Any advice from the pros? I really don't have the time to adjust the sliders for each pic individually, but that's probably what's needed, right?
posted by muckster at 7:07 PM on February 13, 2002


AutoLevels is good if there is a black and white in your photo, because what it does is stretch the histogram so the brightest thing in it is white and the darkest thing is black. This can work wonders in removing color cast and is not a bad first approximation to "enhancing" your photos. However, it can fail miserably when the source image is predominantly one color (e.g. a close-up of red roses) -- it wants to "correct" that to a more neutral color, thereby sapping it of all its vibrant color. In extreme cases this can cause weird color artifacts in the parts of the image that must be adjusted the most.

It is far better to properly white-balance the camera before shooting than to apply color cast removal afterward. On a properly-balanced image, Auto Contrast has essentially the same effect as Auto Levels.

Many digital camera photos can be "improved" by increasing contrast and saturation slightly, say by 5-10%. By "improved" I mean they will be more impressive, but may not be entirely natural anymore. Fred Miranda's Digital Velvia Photoshop actions are pretty handy for saturation improvement without distortion.
posted by kindall at 8:08 PM on February 13, 2002


srboisvert, point taken. Funny they do have something to correct a color cast and don't have it integrated.

I assume I don't have to link to the free web servers, IM programs and scripting engines?

If you'd like a scriptable free image manipulation kit, ImageMagick is just your thing.

If you want the whole shebang for free, take a look at Pixia. While it doesn't do the automatic stuff that the above mentioned utility does, it has a wicked cool curves tool, a Histogram (levels for you Photoshop types, although missing the eyedroppers) and all kinds of other drawing stuff. Missing a decent sharpen command though. It has experimental support for Photoshop filters so you can snag all the free stuff thats available on the web.

Irfan View is another nifty image viewer / manipulator. It doesn't have a proper set of image correction tools but it has some of the basics, enough to allow you to eyeball your color corrections if necessary. It does have a batch conversion mode including resizing and some rudimentary manipulation. It also works great as a slideshow viewer (like ACDSee).

Then of course there's The Gimp for Windows. It is scriptable as well, although you're going to have to dig a little deeper into those programming skills.

muckster, if I were going to batch process images from my lower end digital camera I'd do the auto levels, maybe a hint of S shaped curve to make it snap a little more, a light touch of Unsharp Mask and call it good. If I get picky about each one I eyedropper some black and white points, take a look at the levels, play with the curves, maybe nudge the saturation, hit the UnsharpMask and call it good. If it was a low light photo or an ugly scan, I'd spend a little more time on the colors and be a little more wary of sharpening all the noise likely to be there.
posted by mutagen at 8:17 PM on February 13, 2002


Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced.
posted by Mwongozi at 2:51 AM on February 14, 2002


Thanks for the link, crunchland. This is much easier than PhotoShop, and the results look pretty comparable. This is especially helpful for large batches of pics like the 700 I just took in Africa.

Sidebar question: since all the digital camera mefi-ers will read this, I just want to know if there's a way to put my photos on a CD in a Kodak-readable format. My local photo development shop (Wolf Camera) has a digital reader that will take my Sony memory stick (using a CyberShot 2.1), but it only outputs specific sizes (3x5, 8x10) and doesn't let me crop the photo. If I take the photo off the memory stick and edit it using PhotoShop and save it back to the stick, the machine won't read it. Nobody at Wolf knows anything about file formats. They have an instant-print Kodak machine that has all the controls for color correction and cropping, but it only copies existing prints or accepts a Kodak-format CD. I can't find the Kodak spec published anywhere. Help? Ideas?
posted by JParker at 3:53 AM on February 14, 2002


While we're at it, let's hear a shout-out for crunchland and his fantastic pencam.org site. You single-handedly convinced me to buy an Aiptek PenCam2 and I have been loving playing with it.
posted by briank at 6:32 AM on February 14, 2002


OT, but probably of interest to this crowd:

Free Windows tools do exist for lossless rotation, cropping and flipping of JPEGs. If anyone's interested, say so in here and I'll track it down and share.
posted by NortonDC at 7:40 AM on February 14, 2002


If anyone's interested, say so in here and I'll track it down and share.

So!
posted by iceberg273 at 8:10 AM on February 14, 2002


So too!
posted by JParker at 10:25 AM on February 14, 2002


Okay, check this thread again later tonight.
posted by NortonDC at 1:47 PM on February 14, 2002


Got it. Here's the page:
http://sylvana.net/jpegcrop/

and here is the link to the zip:
http://sylvana.net/jpegcrop/jpegcrop.zip
posted by NortonDC at 7:17 PM on February 14, 2002


ACDSee can do basic functions too (and is probably the better image viewer out there)

http://www.acdsystems.com/English/Products/ImagingProducts/ACDSee/index.htm

There's a trial available and I believe they have a plan where 60px of your screen is dedicated to a banner so you can use it for free. Eitherway, it's really an excellent tool.
posted by sans at 2:45 AM on February 15, 2002


ACDSee sacrifices image quality for speed when decoding for display, which makes me doubt that they would have gone to the effort of including a separate decoding path to compute lossless effects with jpegs.

To see ACDSee's tradeoffs, find a jpeg with text of a single color over a background of another single color. First view it in Internet Explorer, and then load it into ACDCSee. It's pretty obvious when you have it side by side.
posted by NortonDC at 4:48 AM on February 15, 2002


let's hear a shout-out for crunchland and his fantastic pencam.org site. You single-handedly convinced me to buy an Aiptek PenCam2 and I have been loving playing with it.

Well, that's gratifying... thank you, and I'm glad you're having fun with it. I guess we should make a shout-out to Heather, who was the one who turned me onto the pencam in the first place, almost a year ago.
posted by crunchland at 7:14 AM on February 15, 2002


NortonDC, I agree. But that aside, it is a good tool :)
posted by sans at 2:57 PM on February 15, 2002


NortonDC,
Thanks! That may solve my problem... off to Wolf Camera to test it now.
posted by JParker at 11:57 AM on February 17, 2002


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