Perfectly Clear Plug-In

Perfectly Clear is not an image enhancement plug-in. Rather, Perfectly Clear is an image optimization or correction plug-in. It should not be thought of as your “creative” editor, this is what Nik, Topaz, Alien Skin and OnOne are for. Perfectly clear has a very different purpose. Its job is to overcome the limitations of your camera and sensor technology.  And it does this on the pixel level. So, rather than apply Perfectly Clear after your RAW or creative processing, it is recommended that you run your un-edited RAW files through Perfectly Clear first, and then do your “normal” enhancement to achieve your creative look if you desire.

Lets take a look at a few examples that should help you understand how Perfectly Clear works and just how powerful it really is.

The first image below is what the RAW image looked like straight out of camera with no adjustment whatsoever. Pretty drab and flat. (remember you can click the image to make it bigger and then scroll through all images.)

DSCF0651

The next image has been run through Perfectly Clear using the “default” setting while making just a couple of tweaks to the exposure and contrast sliders. There are not many sliders in Perfectly Clear, so not much to worry about. (see screen capture below) The mulit-patented technology behind the scenes is doing a very good job. It is important to let Perfectly Clear work on the un-edited RAW file (meaning all sliders zero’ed out). It does a better job and will never clip or blow out shadows or highlights if you do. A pretty big difference!

DSCF0651-Edit-2PC

Athentech_Imaging_Perfectly_Clear_Plugin

 

For the last image, I felt the Perfectly Clear version was a tad bright, all I did was use a Curves Adjustment layer to bring down the mid tones and then add a slight “S” curve to enhance the contrast just a touch.

DSCF0651-Edit-2PCSCURVE

Lets look at another, this from the streets of Havana. Again the first image is an un-edited RAW file.

Jan052014_Cuba_1558RAW

Next is the file run through Perfectly Clear. This time the difference is more subtle as the RAW capture from the Fuji is pretty good to start with. Still, look at the color of the car, the pink on the walls, the tones in the street and the overall depth that PC gave the image. It feels more alive to me.

Jan052014_Cuba_1558-Edit-2PC

And the last image below was created in Alien Skin Exposure 6 as a creative old film look from the Perfectly Clear optimized file.

Jan052014_Cuba_1558-Edit-2PCAS

 

One last example. When I processed this image two years ago, I blended two exposures to get what I needed. This time with Perfectly Clear, I used just one with better results. The first image is the RAW file unprocessed. 

20120115_Cuba_0103RAW

 

And the next with Perfectly Clear applied using the “fix dark” preset and then tweaking the exposure and contrast sliders just a touch.  Wow!  I’d say that is a big improvement. And please notice the true colors. I really appreciate that Perfectly Clear does not alter my colors, in fact it restores them to what they should be!  

20120115_Cuba_0103-Edit-2PC

 

And the last image below was finished with Lightroom only. I used the adjustment brush for the sky, shadow slider to open up the shadows a bit and the highlight slider to reign in the brights.  A touch of vibrance and clarity and I was done.

20120115_Cuba_0103-EditPCLR

 

 

Armed with this new knowledge, the first thing I will be using on my images is Perfectly Clear first. Is it perfect software? Does it work perfectly every time? No, there have been a few, very few images where I did not like the result. 

You should know that you can batch process your images using Perfectly Clear. This makes a lot of sense when you have a lot of images from a a specific shoot like a wedding or portrait session etc.  And you can create a preset in Perfectly Clear that can be applied to the entire set of images that are being group processed. This is a huge time saver and another big benefit of this plug-in.

I would suggest this VIDEO on Youtube for more details about batch processing using Lightroom. And this VIDEO is an excellent overview of what Perfectly Clear does and why.  

If you can’t tell, I’ve had a paradigm shift about Perfectly Clear after learning what is really going on and when to use it in my workflow.  I highly recommend it!  Click on this link to give it a try and SAVE 20%.

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11 Comments

  1. roni chastain July 18, 2014 at 8:19 am #

    john i have been using perfectly clear for about 2 years. love this program. i have used it in photoshop, and have even made an action for it. it really is a great program!

  2. Ellen July 18, 2014 at 9:37 am #

    Why did you crop out the foreground in the first image of the hill?

    • JB July 18, 2014 at 9:54 am #

      I suspect you are looking at the screen shot and the posted image. They are two different compositions. I did NOT crop the first image, it is as shot. Yes it is a pan crop, however that is a choice I made in camera with my Fuji.

      • Ellen July 18, 2014 at 10:19 am #

        Ha! I really like the foreground with the rows of vegetation, but I do like the other ones too. So many decisions to make while editing, sometimes I just give up and watch TV. LOL. BTW, I shared your FB post on the Teaneck Camera Club FB page I manage. Great advice.

        • JB July 19, 2014 at 7:52 am #

          Thanks for sharing Ellen!

  3. Rona July 18, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

    John,
    Thanks so much for doing this. I have been thinking about PC for quite some time (ever since you blogged about it) and wondering if it was worth it and how it would fit in my workflow (especially since I use lots of presets in Lightroom). Really looking forward to giving it a try!

    • John Barclay Photography July 18, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

      Rona give it a try and then apply your LR preset on top of it. I think you’ll be very pleased.

  4. Michael July 18, 2014 at 7:46 pm #

    I love PC! I just wish that after running through the plugin that the final files were not saved in jpeg format!

    • JB July 18, 2014 at 8:20 pm #

      Micheal, you can choose what format to save the files in. Mine are .tiff files not jpeg.

  5. Peggy W July 21, 2014 at 1:17 pm #

    John, Will PC be any help with an image that was shot at too high an ISO causing the pixel density to be too low to blow up to a larger image?

    • JB July 21, 2014 at 1:30 pm #

      Hummm, I would think yes, Peggy. It will address the noise and optimize the file as best it can and then you should be able to enlarge from there. You can try for 30 days free…

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