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Review of Alien Skin Bokeh Plug-In

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  #1  
Old 01-11-2009, 11:43 PM
gmitchel gmitchel is offline
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Review of Alien Skin Bokeh Plug-In

I finished my comprehensive review of Alien Skin Bokeh. It is a 7MB .PDF file. More than 20 pages with the introduction, etc. It's a free download. I hope the digital photography community finds it helpful.

http://www.thelightsright.com/alienskinbokeh

Cheers,

Mitch
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  #2  
Old 01-12-2009, 05:32 AM
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skydog skydog is offline
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Re: Review of Alien Skin Bokeh Plug-In

Download free but $199 to function....look around and maybe $139
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  #3  
Old 01-12-2009, 09:27 AM
gmitchel gmitchel is offline
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Re: Review of Alien Skin Bokeh Plug-In

Someone else's $139.

IMHO, it's priced too high. You'll use noise reduction software much more often. You'd get much more mileage from sharpening or color correction tools, too.

You could buy both a noise reduction and a sharpening plug-in for less than Alien Skin Bokeh and still have a few dollars in your pocket.

If it was my $200 (or $139 somewhere street price), I'd stick with the Photoshop CS3/CS4 Lens Blur filter.

Most of the Alien Skin products used to retail for around $99. Their latest generation of products sell for $200 to $250 each. Candidly, that's the price I'd expect for a who collection of plug-ins, not a single tool.

Cheers,

Mitch
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  #4  
Old 01-12-2009, 09:30 AM
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DannyRaphael DannyRaphael is offline
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Re: Review of Alien Skin Bokeh Plug-In

Well written review.

Given the results of the in depth comparison of this plugin to Photoshop's Lens Blur function, essentially no visual difference, and your other observations (no significant operational or use advantages), I was surprised by your highest possible final rating.
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Old 01-12-2009, 10:07 AM
gmitchel gmitchel is offline
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Re: Review of Alien Skin Bokeh Plug-In

It was a tough call, as I admitted in the review. I was on the cusp. As I read your comment and second-guess myself, I'm back to sitting squarely on that cusp.

You can get equally pleasing results for the bokeh effect with the Lens Blur filter. You can also dio a vignette easily enough with just basic Photoshop skills, too. Good reasons to give it "Recommended" instead of a "Strongly Recommended" evaluation.

Not everyone has Photoshop. Bokeh gives Photoshop Elements and Corel Paint Shop Pro X2 users new functionality. It really expands the creative options for PSE users. Busy pros might benefit from the quick and easy workflow, especially the immediate visible feedback for the bokeh and vignette effects. Many users do not have the experience to use the Lens Blur filter effectively and others prefer automated tools. That's what leaned me in favor of "Strongly Recommended."

I try not to let price enter into the recommendation. As I mentioned in the review, I asked myself if I would buy the plug-in at a more attractive price (say around $50). I would consider purchasing it. Add to that the fact that the product is competently engineered, does what it says, and has an efficient UI and that's why I ended up leaning towards "Strongly Recommended."

I guess, if I really wanted to plant my flag on high standards, I might have come down on "Recommended" instead.

Judgment call, my friend.

Best wishes, Danny.

Mitch
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  #6  
Old 01-12-2009, 11:06 AM
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DannyRaphael DannyRaphael is offline
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Re: Review of Alien Skin Bokeh Plug-In

Good points on 'judgment call' (I respect that) and providing this functiionality to non-PS users.

Perhaps a commented "star rating by assessment categories" approach would be more useful to readers and eliminate sticky wickets like this one, e,g.:

Installation: *******
* comments

Documentation provided: **
* comments

Online diocumenation: ******
* comments

Ease of use: *****
* comments

Compared to:

Alternative solutions:

Value:

...etc.

========

1-4, 1-5: not enough
1-6, 1-8 better IMO
"Even" max star value = no 'on the fence' 3/5 type assessments.
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  #7  
Old 01-12-2009, 11:08 AM
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amica999 amica999 is offline
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Re: Review of Alien Skin Bokeh Plug-In

Not sure if this can compare, but with some tweaks and PS already in hand it's FREE http://abduzeedo.com/awesome-digital...fect-photoshop
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  #8  
Old 01-12-2009, 02:12 PM
gmitchel gmitchel is offline
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Re: Review of Alien Skin Bokeh Plug-In

Thank you, Danny, for helping me think this through.

I did intend a similar breakdown when I got to comparing noise reduction software, etc. Perhaps I should do them for the individual reviews, too.

The advantage of .PDF files is that I can easily make that sort of change.

I'm glad you understood what I meant about it being a judgment call. I wasn't trying to make it sound arbitrary. I gave it a lot of though, but in the end, I had to make a judgment. Someone else could reasonably come to a different judgment. Different day, when something could go either way, I might come down differently.

Cheers,

Mitch
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  #9  
Old 01-12-2009, 05:18 PM
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skydog skydog is offline
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Re: Review of Alien Skin Bokeh Plug-In

Mitch,

Thank you for your review, but what I would really hope from the members on this site is their personal recommendation both on functionality and value. As I've mentioned before, retouching and photography can cost a lot of money when you consider the equipment (cameras, lenses, lights, tripods), computers, and software. Just the upgrade from CS3 to CS4 suites was a killer. Also many plug-ins only give 10 days evaluation and not 30. So keep up the good work and I appreciate all you do, but I do request both pros and cons for any product you evaluate.
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  #10  
Old 01-12-2009, 06:40 PM
gmitchel gmitchel is offline
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Re: Review of Alien Skin Bokeh Plug-In

You've left me scratcing my head, Skydog. I can't tell how much of your comment is aimed at my review and how much is a general statement to the forum.

The review includes both pros and cons.

You might say "Pros --" and list them if you wrote the review, that's OK.

I noted the following cons:

(1) The factory lens presets seemed more of a marketing feature than a practical feature.
(2) The factory presets seem too aggressive.
(3) The PDF documentation was too much of an overview.
(4) The video documention was not well-edited and not included on the CDs. You need to stream it from the Alien Skin site. That irks me with a $200 plug-in.
(5) The $200 price tag is pricey.
(6) You can obtain equally pleasing bokeh effects with the Photoshop Lens Blur filter and a little experience.

I also mentioned two features that are missing and would improve the product: depth maps and a film grain effect.

I believe that I covered both functionality and value in the review.

I have been completely candid and transparent on this thread. It would be a fair reading of my comments to conclude:

(1) The documentation was not badly done, but it was not what I expect from a $200 Photoshop plug-in.
(2) I would not spend $200 of my own money for this plug-in. I consider it over-priced.
(3) If you own Photoshop CS3/CS4 and you have enough experience, you can obtain equally pleasing results with Photoshop alone.

I was equally clear about the good points. Alien Skin Bokeh has an efficient UI, you can save your own presets, you can add creative bokeh effects and vignettes to photos quickly and easily, you get immediate visual feedback,and it works with Smart Filter layers.

I'm confused about the evaluation time comment. Alien Skin gives 30 days and it's not crippled or watermarked. That's better than many.

I wish you would add your thoughts as a comment to the review. Especially if you feel something is missing or in error. I like to think my judgments are informed, and informed judgments are worth more than uninformed opinions. I don't claim them to be infallible, however, and I'd like digital photographers to have as much information and the ability to consider a range of viewpoints as they decide whether to purchase a tool like Alien Skin Bokeh.

Cheers,

Mitch
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