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There’s no shortage of great solutions for enhancing digital photos on your Mac, but few of them do it with the speed and grace of Dfx. Tiffen is a company best known for making the glass filters used by photographers worldwide, and now more than 2,000 of those award-winning filters are digitally re-created in the new Dfx 3.0.
Tiffen’s solution is available three different ways: a $599.95 Video/Film Plug-in for use within video editing hosts including Final Cut Pro; the $229.95 Photo Plug-in for Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, or Aperture; or the more economical $169.95 Standalone version (which is what we tested). Functionally, Dfx 3.0 works the same across all three -- the plug-in versions are best suited for professionals who prefer working inside their favorite application, while the newly 64-bit Standalone version is targeted at iPhoto users and others who don’t mind loading images via the standard Mac OS X file browser.
Dfx 3.0’s two-up view allows you to see the image with (at left) and without (at right) filters applied.
In Dfx, images are prominently displayed in the center of the screen, with applied Effect layers at left and selected filter Presets at right. Dfx 3.0 offers 125 individual filters in seven categories along the bottom of the screen (Film Lab, HFX Diffusion, HFX Grads/Tints, Image, Lens, Light, and Special Effects), with a new eighth bin reserved for Favorites (clicking the star icon tags a selected preset). It’s a clean, uncluttered UI that keeps most of the action inside the main window and out of the menu bar, similar to the plug-in editions.
The upper-left corner includes tools for resetting all applied filters, cropping or rotating images, and adding a mask. Buttons above your image control viewing options such as zoom in/out, moving inside an image, and side-by-side or split-screens of the original and filtered photos. The View menu can also be used to switch between four different interface presets, including Dual Monitor mode for viewing an image full-screen while keeping filters available on a second display.
Multiple filters can be stacked by adding new layers, which can then be independently edited or disabled, while retaining full control over masks and composite mode. Edits happen lightning fast thanks to version 3.0’s multiprocessor acceleration, with effects appearing in the blink of an eye on our 2.93GHz Core i7 iMac. Where high-end software such as Photoshop often requires a certain level of skill to accomplish most tasks, Dfx effortlessly accomplishes professional results in just a few clicks. Novice users will be thrilled with the number of built-in presets, while advanced photographers have access to Parameters mode for tweaking filters to their heart’s content.
Tiffen has also beefed up their filter set with Dfx 3.0, offering creative options including Color Shadow, 113 different Film Stock simulations, and corrective tools like DeBand which eliminates the color-banding common with digital images. A new Match filter quickly copies the color, detail, grain, and tone of an image and applies it to one of your own, while Rays helps create stunning, realistic light ray effects.
The bottom line. Tiffen Dfx 3.0 is a must-have for every photographer’s digital toolkit, breathing new life into seemingly ordinary images and polishing up already great ones. It’s a fast, buttery-smooth way to enhance anything you can throw at it.
Mac OS 10.6 or later; multicore Intel processor
Super fast loading and saving images. Wide variety of complex filters with complete customization. Clean, uncluttered interface with multiple viewing choices.
No layered export or save (files limited to Camera RAW, TIFF, JPEG, Kodak Cineon, or DPX formats). Standalone version best suited to users without pro photo apps. No bundle upgrade options for current owners.