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New Sharpening Plugin for Photoshop

The Plugin Site

The Plugin Site (www.thepluginsite.com) released Version 1.04 of FocalBlade, a Photoshop-compatible plugin for sharpening your photos for screen display and printing as well as for producing great looking blur, soft focus and glow effects on 8bit and 16bit images. FocalBlade lets you sharpen photos without amplifying noise or artifacts and produces impressive sharpening results even on low quality images. FocalBlade is the second product in our new PhotoWiz product line, which sets a new standard for photo correction tools. It can be used with a wide range of graphics applications, e.g. Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, Photo-Paint, PhotoImpact and Fireworks.

New in Version 1.04

FocalBlade 1.04 displays selections from your graphics application in the preview, which is a great help for selective sharpening tasks. It also reacts to user actions immediately now. You don't have to wait anymore until the preview is rendered before you can readjust a setting or drag the preview. This new feature will be especially helpful on slow computers or for people who quickly want to change a lot of settings. We have also added two new presets that show how to use FocalBlade for noise reduction.

Other new features include a preset context menu that appears by right clicking the Open Preset folder and using the mouse wheel to operate sliders. Dragging the FocalBlade window is now only possible with the title bar to avoid that misplaced slider clicks move the window. The FocalBlade setup now includes the Plugin Installer tool for copying the FocalBlade plugin to the plugin paths of 25 graphics applications. A lot of bug fixes have been added to FocalBlade 1.04, too.

What is FocalBlade?

FocalBlade features a range of automatic, semiautomatic and manual tools for sharpening photos. It is very easy to use as it offers interactive explanations for each feature, incorporates modes for various tasks (including a Novice Mode) and detailed step-by-step instructions in the manual. FocalBlade lets you sharpen photos quickly and also batch process images in Cloak mode. Moreover, FocalBlade offers numerous options for creating blur, soft focus and glow effects and for deblurring photos that are highly blurred.

Sophisticated Algorithms

FocalBlade's sophisticated algorithms sharpen images without ugly side effects and give the user a lot of control of the sharpening process. FocalBlade sharpens edges and surfaces in an image independently thereby allowing you to keep objects (e.g. sky, walls, skin and other even surfaces) soft while the overall photo is still sharpened. Unlike other tools FocalBlade doesn't produce halos at high radius settings and even provides sliders for suppressing the white and black part of halos independently and for reducing the sharpening in the shadows and highlight areas. Additionally with FocalBlade you can set the pixel size of details that are sharpened. FocalBlade also lets you keep noise constant or even reduce it when sharpening a photo.

Plenty of Tools

FocalBlade provides three automatic sharpening options for achieving perfect sharpening results with different classes of photos. With Screen and Print buttons you can make FocalBlade automatically sharpen for screen display or for printing. There is also a semiautomatic sample area feature, which lets the user focus on an important image area and thereby apply the optimal sharpness to this area. Additionally there are several Split View modes that let you compare the original and sharpened version as well as visually perform sharpening with the help of preview stripes that present you with variations of the current settings. The manual controls include independent Sharpen and Radius sliders, a Soften slider, Halo Fix sliders, Highlights/Shadows Fix sliders, several masking options and a glow feature. FocalBlade also offers five different sharpening methods. Opening and saving presets for reusing certain effects is possible.

Why FocalBlade is Different

Unlike other sharpening tools, FocalBlade sharpens photos without damaging them and even achieves impressive sharpening results on low quality images. Many other tools don't offer an automatic sharpening mode, add clearly visible halos, increase noise, remove the photographic quality of photos, damage edges, use imprecise sharpening algorithms, need a lot of experimenting to achieve a good result or are overpriced. FocalBlade doesn't have these flaws. It is flexible as well as very easy to use, saves you precious time when sharpening photos and is available at an affordable price.

Availability, System Requirements

FocalBlade is currently only available for Windows, but a Macintosh version is planned. FocalBlade sells at $49.95 (Download) or $59.95 (CD Version including postage). There is an Academic/Student License for $29.95. The Demo version as well as the full version for purchase purchase can be found at: www.thepluginsite.com

Company Info

The Plugin Site is located in Nuremberg, Germany, and develops graphics, video and web software. We also created the ColorWasher, LightMachine, Plugin Galaxy, Plugin Commander, HyperTyle, Edge & Frame Galaxy, HTML Shrinker, Harry's Filters and Photo Galaxy products. We co-produced Alpha Magic with Hollywood FX and Pinnacle and also co-develop the FilterMeister plugin development environment with AFH Systems.

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