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The software Photolemur 3 "forced" me to do something that I rarely do otherwise. I'm usually not a big fan of quick reviews and hectic article writing, but today it was necessary. The boys and girls from Skylum Software were so nice to buy me a free license for their latest update of Photolemur (version 3) and so I was one of the first to have the opportunity to take a closer look at this automatic image processing program to improve the image quality to take. The software came onto the market in mid-September (2018), but so I can already present you with a relatively comprehensive review of the software.
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If you want to read a little more about the software, just be my review of Photolemur 2 recommended. There I described in detail what the software does. For this reason, I would just like to briefly touch on the concept here: Photolemur does not offer itself as a competitor for Lightroom, Luminar or Photoshop, but is rather an alternative for all areas of application where you do not have the necessary time or muse, even for the whole To screw knobs to improve the image quality of a photo. The software gives you the option of optimizing a whole folder of photos at the same time to save yourself a lot of time. There is also Photolemur as a plug-in for Lightroom, Photoshop and Luminar to improve individual photos in advance without investing a lot of time.
If you think that Photolemur is something like the "Auto" button in Lightroom, don't worry: the software does a lot more and actually analyzes the image content in order to selectively improve certain areas. In version 2, there were quite a number of aspects that Photolemur considered:
According to the mail I received from Skylum, the following points have been added to the new version:
What I noticed right away during the first test is the style button in the lower left corner of the picture, which allows you to give a photo a predefined look. When you click on the edit pen, there is still the option of deactivating or activating individual optimizations such as face enhancement, lens correction and eye enlargement. That gives you more freedom to possibly prevent the "autocorrection" for one or the other portrait.
The slider with which you can set the effect of Photolemur on the photo from 0 to 100%, on the other hand, was already available in version 2.3.1 and was not new to me.
If you click in the overview with the right mouse button on a highlighted photo for which you have already made changes to the settings or styles, the button "Apply settings to all images" appears here. But be careful: There is no question. If you select the menu item, the settings are immediately copied to all other photos.
I checked out Photolemur 3 on my MacBook Pro 2017 (2,9 GHz Intel Core i7 with 16 GB RAM). Why is it important? Because I also give information about the processing time, which you can perhaps put in relation to your Mac with such information on the computer. But I can already tell you: Version 3 of Photolemur has become a bit slower compared to Version 2 - probably because more analyzes are running in the background.
In my report on version 2, a reader pointed out to me that most automatic image enhancement tools are not really "intelligent". In his opinion, there is a very simple way to see whether there is intelligence behind it or an algorithm that increases or decreases certain values: You put a photo in the app, have it improved, take the new version and put it back into the app, has it improved, etc. If it changes even further after the first run, he would not speak of "intelligent". An intelligent app would check the current values and then make no further changes after the first run.
So far so good. So I grabbed an aerial photo (Sony RAW) that I took with my drone and handed it over to Photolemur (V 3). As usual, from my point of view the run was successful because it looked much better than before.
Then I exported the optimized image and thrown it back in. I've done this five times in total and the result is: Photolemur doesn't seem to be very clever in that regard, because with each run the colors became stronger and more unnatural.
Now you could say: stupid program - but I think that what counts is what comes out on top the first time. And since you can't complain: the colors are good, the structure on the floor is clearly more visible than before and overall the photo has only gained from the processing. And to break a lance for the software: The fact that Photolemur also differentiates between faces, skin, eyes, vegetation and sky is perhaps not "super-intelligent", but it is much smarter than most of the "Autocorrect" buttons, which I have used in the common Adobe programs so far.
Now that you've had to read quite a bit of text, I think it's time for some before and after photos. I have deliberately chosen photos that may not be the best in terms of composition, but represent interesting challenges for the image enhancement software. So, let's go!
Right at the start I got a RAW from my Sony alpha NEX 7 (on the drone), which I took with a high ISO number in order to get a short exposure time of 1/250 despite the darkness. Of course, I'm particularly interested in what Photolemur can do in terms of noise reduction. To have a comparison, you can see a 300% enlargement of a section here. In the right area of the image is the picture from Photolemur and in the left the photo in the development window of Photoshop, where I only adjusted the exposure so that the brightness of the two images is about the same. You can see very clearly that Photolemur is doing a good job here.
The big advantage of RAW files is that they can be severely underexposed and still conjure up a good picture. Whereby "underexposure" is actually wrongly expressed, because the exposure is only carried out during the "development" of the RAW. Despite everything - what Photolemur 3 makes of it, I tried it out with the picture I used above:
I am a fan of landscape photos, which you can also see in my photo collection. Among them are photos of a golf course that I took from above at the very beginning of my "drone career". Unfortunately it was early in the year and all trees and bushes were still without leaves. However, I chose the photo anyway, because on the one hand you can see how the green tones are greatly improved by Photolemur and on the other hand, below is the section of the horizon that reveals some improvement in the foggy area.
Another auto filter that Photolemur uses is specialized in removing haze in more distant areas of the image. Such haze mostly appear towards the horizon and are removed in other image processing programs with a so-called "Dehaze" filter.
At first glance you may see only a few differences, but if you look at the forest areas, you can see that they have got more contrast and definition. Dehaze is certainly one of the less "effective" filters in Photolemur's arsenal. Still a nice-to-have for landscape shots.
Another specialty is the filter to "improve vegetation". This helps meadows, leaves, bushes and trees to be more present. I have a photo that looks relatively dull without this filter. It was also shot with my drone and the NEX 7 in Sony RAW format. I have set the complete photo here once unprocessed and once processed so that you have a complete comparison. I think you can see an extreme difference in the effect of the two photos.
In this photo, in addition to the vegetation optimization, the dehaze filter also takes effect in the background: While the first has a rather washed-out and too bright sky and horizon, the second photo has more color in the sky - even if it is only a hazy sky. Unfortunately, the weather was not particularly good that day. But the second photo is a clear improvement on the original material.
One more hint to improve the sky: If you have photos that have an eroded sky because it has become too bright, Photolemur can no longer do anything either. For this reason you should always try to "underexpose" rather than "overexpose". You can get something out of photos that are too dark. However, this applies to all image processing programs and not just to Photolemur.
To take a look at the new function of eye optimization in the photo, I took a photo from the archive in which a lot of eyes can be seen. The child was made up, so you can still see a bit of color around the eyes. ;-)
I think the automatic reworking of the eye area has succeeded here. When you see the difference, you could almost say "too successful", because if you enlarge the already large children's eyes again, it may be a little too much of a good thing.
In any case, Photolemur recognized and processed the eyes here. Sometimes I didn't see any effect on other photos either. I think this may be because the software no longer recognizes eyes in certain images if half the face is covered with a scarf. Whether the eye improvement works or not currently seems to be a little bit dependent on chance. This should definitely get better with further updates.
According to the product description, skin retouching and tooth whitening is also a feature that was only introduced with the 3rd version of Photolemur. In order to test the effect of these filters, I downloaded various photos from Pixabay (I do not have the approval of people who I have photographed in my photos) and would like to present a picture here. The photo is from the user "Geralt" on Pixabay.
In the left area of the photo you can clearly see image noise and the wrinkled skin, while both have been cleaned up on the right. The wrinkles were of course not removed, otherwise the photo would no longer look realistic. What unfortunately didn't work well is teeth whitening. I assume that the software had problems with the detection here again.
With another photo (photographer: TaniaVdB / Pixabay) it works much better with the teeth whitening. I have also completely built in the before and after pictures for you so that you can see the difference. The picture is a good test object, as the original was probably very little reworked by hand.
And the photo afterwards: teeth whitening, eye enlargement in the older lady and skin retouching can be clearly seen here. You have to look carefully at the separate photos to see the differences. If you use the before and after slider in Photolemur, you can see the improvements much faster. What is noticeable here in the picture, besides the teeth whitening and skin optimization, is the whites of the eyes that have been lightened. This makes them look much more shiny than in the original photo.
The improvements in image processing and image quality can be clearly seen between version 2 and 3. What I'm still interested in, however, is the speed at which Photolemur works. For this purpose, I imported 2.3.1 .ARW files (RAW data) into version 3.0 and version 10, each about 25 MB in size.
Important note: If you drag the photos onto Photolemur, they will be displayed directly in the overview and you can work with the program. Nevertheless, the software carries out calculations in the background in order to calculate the optimized thumbnails. The activity display shows me values in the "CPU" tab where Photolemur comes to about 400-500% until the thumbnails are all calculated. For the measurement, I waited until Photolemur only accounts for a few percent of the CPU load in the activity display.
Here are the measured values of my stopwatch when calculating the thumbnails in the overview:
Speed when exporting to the hard drive:
Surprisingly, Photolemur 3 is slower here than the previous version. On the one hand, I would blame this on the fairly fresh version (3.0 preliminary version), in which no speed optimizations have probably been carried out in the code. On the other hand, the additional features that were added in the 3-series version are likely to contribute to the slowdown. I firmly expect that the software will also get faster in the next versions. That was the case again and again with the last updates of the 2-series version.
What I would like to briefly address is the style button, which you can now see in the detailed view of a photo. If you click on it, seven presets open that can be applied to the image. So far so good. The only problem is: if I click on one of these presets, Photolemur calculates another 11 seconds on my photo until I can see the result. In any case, it has to be faster, or it has to be calculated in the background so that waiting times are minimized. Otherwise, the real purpose of the software - namely fast, automatic photo processing - is reduced to absurdity.
You can also add new styles to the styles using the "+" button, but unfortunately I couldn't find any for Photolemur on the Skylum page. I assume that there will always be new downloads on the website in the future. A nice feature would also be if you had more influence on the styles, for example to be able to adapt an existing style individually. But that is certainly a feature that Skylum is more likely to plan in the future.
I just asked Skylum about the possibility of adding additional styles. The team has confirmed to me that this will be possible in the final version. It just doesn't work in the current pre-release version that I'm testing.
In addition to all the praise for the ease of use and the beautiful results, I would also like to express criticism, which the Skylum team will hopefully take to heart in order to improve the usability of the program in the future.
You can see: the above-mentioned points of criticism are all related to the usability of the software and not to the results obtained with the photos. From my point of view, the only criticism that could be made of Photolemur in terms of photo optimization is that the individual corrections cannot be made selectively. In the example photo below, the color optimization and the face optimization would be good, but the sharpening too much. But when you start to display all these filters with sliders in order to be able to adjust them individually, the software moves away from its actual focus: automation, which makes it possible to edit many photos in a short time.
For this reason, these individual cases, which do not look as good as before after processing, may have to be dealt with in another program or the entire optimization must be somewhat weakened with the slider that determines the effect of Photolemur.
There is no question that you can get a lot more out of your photos with Luminar or Lightroom. With one or the other picture I would certainly do that to get a special mood or to emphasize certain picture elements more. Photolemur cannot - and does not want to - offer all of this. Those who like to play with the controls in Lightroom or Luminar, edit image areas individually with the correction brush and invest a lot of time in post-processing photos, will certainly not belong to the target group of Photolemur.
However, I fit in completely with the people for whom Photolemur is made: I like taking photos and a lot, but at the end of the day I don't have the time and the muse to spend a long time working on the image processing to improve the image quality. Almost all of my photos are unprocessed in the photo library and the photos that I actually use somewhere on a website were not edited for long, but rather quickly sent by Photolemur. In 95% of the cases, something better comes out afterwards than I put in.
Admittedly: With a few photos (<5%) the colors become too unnatural or other corrections such as exposure compensation or sharpening are not good for the subject. These individual cases cannot be avoided with automatic image optimization, which is simply in the nature of things.
I can definitely recommend Photolemur to all those who don't feel like taking 500 photos in Lightroom or Luminar after their vacation and prefer to choose automated image processing. But even for small amounts of photos, such as the folder with photos for the next photo book, can be improved with Photolemur without much stress. You only have to plan a little computing time for the computer, because it has to do all the work after all. If the Mac is just digging through the photos, I'll go get a coffee, because with the CPU load that Photolemur generates, you don't want to work on other things in parallel.
Basically, when you buy Photolemur, you have a 30-day money-back guarantee that you can use without giving a reason. But if you still want to play with Photolemur for a short time without making a payment, you can load the demo version and edit a few photos with it.
If the purchase of the program is then interesting, make a note of the coupon code "SIRAPFELOT". With this you get (with no time limit!) A whopping 30% discount when purchasing any license. The code is also valid in addition to other discounts such as Halloween, Black Friday or Cyber Monday. ;-)
► Order directly from SKYLUM: Photolemur 3 ◄
Jens has been running the blog since 2012. He appears as Sir Apfelot for his readers and helps them with problems of a technical nature. In his free time he drives electric unicycles, takes photos (preferably with his iPhone, of course), climbs around in the Hessian mountains or hikes with the family. His articles deal with Apple products, news from the world of drones or solutions for current bugs.