Mac App Watch: Get PixelNHance While You Still Can

March 8th, 2004  |  Published in Uncategorized

I’ve been back in the world of the iBook for a few weeks now, gradually reacquiring/reconfiguring assorted apps I used quite a bit. One I tracked down again today borders on indispensable. Caffeine Software’s PixelNHance is the answer to 90 percent of the work I do with digital images in Elements, and it’s free (as in beer, not speech).

It doesn’t have the fancy filters of Photoshop, doesn’t allow the user to add text or do a lot with the image in terms of cropping or heavy-duty manipulation, but it does offer a fine collection of basic color correction tools that clean up a lot of basic photo problems quickly and easily. The very best part is the way it handles change previews: The preview screen commonly seen in apps like Photoshop and the GIMP is integrated into the main window (click that screen shot thumbnail for a full-sized example). So as you make changes, they’re reflected in real time by a selectable preview area you can drag around the window.

This time around, my use of PixelNHance has unearthed an added bonus: It has noise reduction that rocks. I hate shooting with a flash, and I’m lucky to have a digital camera that offers a simulated ISO 400 setting so I can do a lot more available light shooting than my old Canon S10 allowed. But the G5’s ISO 400 setting also involves a ton of noise. PixelNHance cleans a lot of that out without the dramatic blurring and fogging that other apps create.

iPhoto offers a configuration option to select which app gets opened when a photo thumbnail is double-clicked. PixelNHance is my default app: Fast, simple, effective, and it handles most of what I need on the spot.

The closest thing there is to a catch is that Caffeine Software has “suspended operations,” which might mean the software’s on the endangered species list. The company site points to a 56MB archive of the company’s offerings. Worth every second of the download.

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