Today we photographers have many tools to develop our photos. The general public and professionals alike usually take photos and drop them into some sort of Digital Asset Management System (DAM) like Apple’s Photos, Adobe’s Elements, Lightroom, or my personal tool Capture One 9. These programs have their own internal functions allowing simple to extremely complex edits built in.
The issue though is speed. These programs require us to learn how to manipulate dozens of different settings to achieve various “looks” we want to achieve. Some of these programs have built in shortcuts or “presets” you can use to speed up your editing scheme. These shortcuts range from simple to advanced. Even then, these baked in presets often can be hard to manipulate further. So there is a window for outside developers to offer speed demon or specialized solutions to quick editing for consistent style.
Years ago, when I was an Apple Aperture user I began using Google’s Nik Plugin Collection to assist me with quickly adding effects I desired to my photos. For me these plugin’s did a lot of advanced editing, very quickly, which Apple refused to bake into its Aperture program. Unfortunately since Google acquired Nik, the plugins remain good but receive very few updates. This means competitors are catching up, and providing more value. Topaz, OnOne, MacPhun (for OS X users only) and others have much better family integration, regularly improved interface style set, and more “solutions to creatives” than Nik does now. Into this full field now enters Franzis COLOR projects 4, with a style familiar to Nik users, and its own unique twists.
Who is Franzis? It is a one time partner of Nik in Germany, and distributor with other vendors. They also are a large publishing house. They have a long history with publishing and software, just maybe as part of other projects. One item Franzis is happy to let you know is the product is 100% German made. This can give you some extra confidence in security as developers in the EU face hurdles and data sharing restrictions vendors based across the world may not face.
Color projects 4’s basic premise is when you open a photo from a file (or via plug in from Lightroom) you will within seconds receive 134 enhanced variations of the photo to choose from for publishing. Once you choose the baseline variation, you can then personalize it further with basic and advanced editing. Color projects then finalizes the result for you with cropping, sizing and other tools to close out the assembly line inside the program. If you were working a project and wanted consistency, you can easily batch process photos with the same full array of options.
This is the claim…so how does it work? Bottom Line Up Front: Pretty well with a few small program hiccups in my opinion (only if you need the English version). It should be considered as a replacement for anyone currently using Nik Software and mainstream Digital Asset Management (DAM) software such as Lightroom or Photo Mechanic. For users of other editors, it will come down to liking or disliking the interface.
Once you open up the program you’ll see the previews quickly generate on the side panel. Some of the icons may at first confuse the user slightly since they are different than those in many similar programs, but in the end this is ok because they work as designed and explained in the manual!