When I was asked if I wanted to review PhotoDiva, a completely free portrait editor, I was intrigued. I wanted to see if something that you can get for free would actually be worth using as part of your editing routine.
Having now used the software, I can confidently say that (spoiler alert!) Photodiva is an excellent editing tool for those who value their time and other resources.
What can it do?
So what is the PhotoDiva portrait editor capable of? Well, whether you are looking to retouch a beauty shot or want to improve photos of your friends and family, this software will certainly do the job.
Using AI technology combined with the ease of one-click retouching, this free portrait software is perfect for those who are new to portrait photography. And PhotoDiva can certainly take a large burden off those who are constantly showered with tons of pictures to retouch; thanks to PhotoDiva’s technology, many of the editing processes are now a one-click thing.
The first thing to note is that PhotoDiva is currently Windows only. To download this portrait photo editor, you need to visit PhotoDiva’s website. One quick install later, and you will be ready to go.
When you open the software for the first time, you are met with a tutorial video which guides you through all the features and functions of the software. This is a great introduction and shows you how powerful this software can be.
For those of you who like a good feature list (who doesn’t?), the key features of PhotoDiva are as follows:
- Edit portraits automatically
- Smooth the skin, remove oily glare
- Erase unwanted objects
- Change facial features
- Apply digital makeup (Pro & Ultimate editions only)
- Change or blur the background (Pro & Ultimate editions only)
- Contour face & add dimension (Pro & Ultimate editions only)
- 100+ photo filter effects (Ultimate edition only)
Importing your first image to the software is simple: just a click of the button in the middle of the screen. Once I’d done this, I began to work my way through the software, starting with the most common edit people do in portrait editing software: retouching the skin.
Automatic skin retouching
When it comes to retouching skin, you have several one-click options. I love the fact that these are quite restrained when compared to other skin smoothing presets I have used. The AI finds facial features effectively and the “Overall Enhancement” preset did a great job of smoothing out the skin without going over the top.
For those who want a more natural approach, there is another preset called “Slight Enhancement” that is great for a lighter retouch that still enhances the skin. Going the other way: For those who prefer a glamour look, there is a “Glamour Portrait” preset that could be just what you are looking for.
When getting started, it is this type of simplicity that people look for in their portrait editing software. However, if you want to get more advanced, you can turn to custom skin retouching.
Custom skin retouching
If you expect that custom retouching will be difficult, then PhotoDiva will subvert your expectations. Most of the custom editing is done with the use of intuitive sliders.
The way I found easiest when starting with the software was to turn each slider up to find out what portion of the image was being affected. I then reset the slider to zero and pushed it until I got my desired effect. Overall, it was simple and let me get exactly what I wanted from the retouch.
The ability to compare the before and after edit is great, as it allows you to easily check if you have pushed things a little far.
Other portrait beautifying features
PhotoDiva doesn’t limit you to skin retouching, as it comes with a boatload of other prettifying tools. First off, there is the teeth whitening feature that works both as a preset and as a manually controlled instrument. There is also an eye-circle remover, as well as other tools to highlight the model’s eyes, brows, and lips.
Removing larger objects using the clone tool
In the free version of PhotoDiva, you have the ability to use a clone stamp tool to remove larger objects such as a facial piercing. Using this reminded me of more expensive editing software. When testing, I used it to get rid of a nose stud, and it worked perfectly.
The ability to reshape the face is a powerful tool in PhotoDiva. However, with great power comes great responsibility.
The AI is great at finding facial features. You can sculpt not only the width of the face, but also the eyes, nose, lips, and chin. All worked really well in my testing, although I will say that you really need to keep these sliders low. Pushing them to the extremes leaves a really unnatural look and makes the images look fake pretty quickly. That said, you really can get a powerful result when working with restraint.
PhotoDiva calls this “common editing.” Basic correction works well and is simple to use. For those new to editing, the addition of these tools allows you to do the whole edit in one piece of software. The ability to tweak individual colors is great. The color tools are something that is more associated with high-end software, so it is nice to see them included.
The ability to create black and white images using these advanced color controls is another great feature. There is also the option to create a negative which, while nice to see, is something that you may struggle to find a use for in day-to-day editing.
Adding vignettes is also easy. I know vignettes are a love-it-or-hate-it thing, but they are great for techniques such as bringing focus to the face. PhotoDiva has a variety of options for you to explore.
There are over a hundred photo filters within the software. As with all filters, some you will like, some you won’t. There are a good variety to choose from, though, including vintage looks, film based looks, and some more creative ones.
When using the photo filters, most feel heavy-handed when applied at 100%. However, it is really easy to tone down the effect to get a great result. My personal favorite effect was a film simulation called “Fuji FP 100C.” With the variety of styles available, there is sure to be something for everyone.
The exporting process is streamlined and effective. You click the “Save” button and set the picture parameters according to your needs. You can choose the file format, file quality, and even the output type for printing, further processing, social media, or viewing on an HD screen. The ease of this (as with many things in this software) makes PhotoDiva perfect for beginners. You are consistently given just what you need, with none of the options that confuse those new to photo editing.
Pro version perks
While the free version of PhotoDiva is great to get you started, there are also two paid versions of the software that offer you more options: Pro and Ultimate.
Virtual makeup is among those paid features. This is the Achilles’ heel of some portrait editors, since this effect comes out quite gaudy, but PhotoDiva shows remarkable restraint with the makeup tools. These makeup tools include lipstick, eyeshadows, blusher, highlighter, and bronzer. Once again, they are applied with a single slider drag, eliminating any need for manual selection.
If you’ve ever shot with poor lighting, then you might be familiar with the flat face effect. There is a way to get rid of it using the Add Dimension tool. Despite the cryptic name, this instrument is just a highlight and shadow adjuster that gives the model’s face the much-needed depth and contrast.
To go above and beyond simple portrait retouching, PhotoDiva also comes with a semi-automatic background-changing feature. It only took me a few brush strokes to completely remove the picture background and add my own. If that is too drastic of an approach for you, then the background-blurring tool might catch your interest instead.
Lastly, when it comes to photo editing, the upgrade gives you the ability to edit RAW images from over 450 different cameras, as well as remove noise and add haze.
These additions make PhotoDiva an even more powerful piece of software for portrait editing.
Is it worth it?
Obviously. It’s completely free! What I will say, though, is that this software is more for those entering into portrait editing. There will be some of you out there who will have scoffed at this software from the moment you started reading this review. That’s fine; it’s not made for you.
PhotoDiva is made for those who want a less time- and effort-consuming way to retouch portraits, and those new to photography who have spent their hard-earned savings buying a camera and want to push their editing without the immediate expense of having to buy some high-end software. It is a great tool that allows you to get professional-level results with a few clicks. For those people, I cannot recommend PhotoDiva highly enough. In fact, if you own a Windows computer and edit photos, I would suggest you try this software.
The fact that PhotoDiva gives away such a powerful set of tools for free is amazing! For those who love it and want to do even more, the upgrade is available to you at a very reasonable price (under $30 USD at the time of writing). If the software gets you hooked then you are in luck, since the vendor is offering the upgrade at 55% off for Digital Photography School readers.
Rather than tell you how good PhotoDiva is, I will leave you with this: Try it for yourself. It is free, and if you edit portraits, you have no reason not to try it out. I am pretty sure you will be surprised by how good it is.
Where do I get it?
To download PhotoDiva, simply head over to https://photodiva.net and hit the Download Free button. Enjoy!
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