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The Best Set of Photoshop Plugins Avaiable: Refocus and Noise Buster

A screenshot of Adobe Photoshop CS6 and AKVIS plugins.
A screenshot of Adobe Photoshop CS6 and AKVIS plugins.
Screenshots by Bruce Emmerling

Photoshop Plugin Software


Adobe Photoshop is perhaps one of the best digital imaging software available on the market today. What often makes Photoshop so powerful is the ability to add third party plugin programs. Two of the more powerful plugin programs are Noise Buster and Refocus by AKVIS. AKVIS is a software company that produces a full range of plugin enhancements that perform specific functions including noise reduction, focus sharpening, special effects, sketch transformations, and other actions. Both Refocus and Noise Buster offer many features found in other AKVIS products including their excellent user friendly interface. While there are similar products on the market, designers will find these tools to be a much better option than the competition.

AKVIS Refocus Software
A screenshot by Bruce Emmerling

Those with limited Photoshop experience may not have experience in using plugins. Essentially plugins are programs that perform a set of procedures or steps to produce image enhancements. In some ways they are similar to macros but more complex. Plugins can not only provide an automated process to enhance an image, they can also help develop whole new transformations that might take hours of trial and error tweaks in Photoshop. Many functions provided by plugins can be replicated manually through individual actions in Photoshop or other programs. For instance, some plugins will alter the light, white balance, and colors in an image to change its appearance. Users with enough time and knowledge could do so the same manually or save time using a plugin. Plugins can provide a means to greatly reduce development time and can greatly enhance productivity.

Both Noise Buster and Refocus are examples of graphic plugins for Photoshop. Photoshop itself comes with a noise reduction and sharpening tools, or built in plugins, that work fairly well. However, both Noise Buster and Refocus go further by offering more powerful algorithms to further enhance images. The results are often sharper and clearer than images enhanced with similar tools in Photoshop. While Noise Buster and Refocus share a similar interface, both perform different types of functions.

Noise Buster is both simple to use and very powerful. When compared to both the built in noise reduction tool and other plugin programs, Noise Buster often performs beyond its competitors. Photos with lots of noise can often be cleared up to an amazing degree. Even clear photos shot in daylight can be improved through a light reduction in noise. Noise Buster is not just powerful but also fast. Where other products can take minutes to complete a reduction routine, Noise Buster often completes a routine in half the usual time. Even nighttime photos with large amount of noise can be improved significantly with the program. Beyond the powerful transformation engine, Noise Buster is also very easy to use with simple, easy to learn controls. Beginners and experts can tweak photographs with equal quality images being produced with the program. Any photographer, designer, or beginning artist can find a great use of Noise Buster.

On the other hand, Refocus addresses the problems of blurriness. Images that are out of focus or have blurriness are often the bane of photographers. Such images are often found to be useless for production or commercial purposes. Typical sharpening tools work to alter the light, graininess, and other elements in an image to improve blurry areas. Unfortunately many fail to work adequately. Refocus is one of the few programs that can significantly reduce blurriness in an image without reducing its overall appearance. Refocus does wonders that many may need to see to believe. While it may not fix all images with blurriness problems, it can perform far beyond other tools. Built in tweaking tools also offer users that ability to custom transform images with special problems. However, one downside to Refocus, any many other similar plugins, is its processing speed. Like many plugins with powerful algorithms, the program can take some time to perform its routines on a blurry image. However, the wait can be more that worth it. Refocus has uncanny ability to take blurry pictures and clear them up. While it may not work all the time, the program excels past most of its competitors.

Pricing for both products is offered on multiple tiers, depending on the user’s needs. Home users without need for a commercial license can purchase the products at a lower price around $60 - $72. Commercial users can purchase a full license that allows commercial publication at $150 and above. Anyone can also try out demo versions of AKVIS products before making a purchase.

Both Refocus and Noise Buster are powerful plugin tools for Photoshop that can greatly enhance images. Users will find both products to be both easy to use and powerful enough to deal with the most problematic images. Those that seek further tools can utilize many of the other plug tools in the AKVIS product lineup. While there are numerous plugin programs on the market, Refocus and Noise Buster are clear winners.

For more information:

  • General information can be found at the AKVIS website.
  • Full versions of AKVIS image processing software can be downloaded directly from their website.
  • Evaluation versions can be downloaded from the download page on the AKVIS website.


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