Back in August, I took a look at a preview of a new app, Radiant Photo. He promised to do some of the heavy lifting on your unedited images and improve them considerably.
One of the people behind the app is Elia Locardi, a master photographer well known to our readers who collaborated with us on our Photographing the World tutorials. If you have seen his work, you know the quality of his images. Now Radiant Photo is available for purchase. It can be pre-ordered today and will be available for download this week.
So what is Radiant Photo?
It’s an app and/or a plugin, and you open a photo in it. The image can be a landscape, a portrait, a bowl of fruit, really anything. The app applies AI to what it sees and suggests an image using settings that the app says will improve the original image.
If you want to fine-tune further, and most photographers will, there are two levels of controls. One is Quick Edit, which reveals a smart editing panel, and another option called “Detailed Edit” goes deeper, giving you familiar and new ways to adjust an image. There are also presets.
As a plugin you get them for Photoshop, Lightroom or Corel Printshop Pro.
Using the Radiant Photo
I’ve had the release candidate for a few weeks now, and I’m very impressed. It works on Windows and Mac, including the new Apple Silicon M1 and M2 Macs. I did my work on a MacBook Pro M1 and a Mac Studio M1.
I fed it with hundreds of raw files (although you’re not limited to raw images) and found instant improvements in dynamic range, color tone, noise reduction and l ‘exposure. The software works by examining every pixel, which makes it more accurate than the usual larger image editors.
I noticed that the AI controls never cut high levels and always respect black levels. It also cleans up color casts well which can be difficult to fix manually.
Of course, all changes are subjective, and sometimes you might not like the choices made by the AI, but you have the flexibility to change things to your liking. Sure, that’s what we do as editors, but in almost all cases I find Radiant Photo can give me a quick start on an edit, save time and, if you’re a pro, money.
Radiant Photo can also handle multiple images. Just drag them into the app or open them all from the File menu.
When you first upload an image, Radiant Photo, using AI, determines the type of image, landscape, portrait or less obvious subjects, such as a newborn baby or food and drink . You will get split screen and quick edit or detailed edit option. Depending on what you select, you will get the appropriate controls. In the detailed edit mode, you can see the usual Lightroom-like controls for shadows and highlights, saturation, and more. But you’ll also see unique controls like skin and depth bias, sky tone, and fidelity.
Here is an example :
Above is a drone photo taken in difficult light. Radiant Photo, without adjustments, gave me better visible dynamic range, made some small but interesting color changes, and gave me detail in the mountains that I couldn’t see in the raw file. It didn’t finish the image for me, but I could take the image from the detailed editing part of the app, or head to Lightroom, Photoshop, or your favorite editor.
Here is another picture. Without adjustments, I got a nice image, which I could add with some extra work, or with the tools provided in Radiant Photo, I could probably finish the shot to my satisfaction.
My workflow went something like this for landscapes. I started all my images with DXO PureRAW 2. It cleans raw files and its database can apply corrections for my camera and lens combination. From there I enter Radiant Photo, usually the standalone version, or sometimes as a Photoshop plug-in.
When I’m satisfied, I go back to Photoshop for any finishing touches I find useful. In my use of Radiant Photo, it was fast and reliable. No crashes, no surprises. A user manual is built in, but most options were obvious in purpose.
Although I am quite capable of doing some good manual editing of my files, I liked the head start that Radiant Photo gave me. He could “see” and offer suggestions for things I might never have noticed. At no point did he make bad suggestions, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t have come up with such an effective edit myself. I think the best use of Radiant Photo is as a first step in an editing sequence, followed by your own efforts either in Radiant Photo or your main editor.
Negatives: If you’re a photographer who hates the idea of AI and wants to control every aspect of your editing, then Radiant Photo isn’t for you. Similarly, Radiant Photo is not a one-click editor that does everything you could want effortlessly. You may not like the color or tone choices it makes. You might not even like its sharpening or noise reduction choices.
Still, I think most photographers would benefit from Radiant Photo. I could see the batch function as a big help for pros. The software was created and guided by professional photographers, and you can feel that contribution in how Radiant Photo works. Its AI engine is based on Perfectly Clear Complete, which has been a very popular and well-reviewed AI editor.
What is missing ?
Don’t think of Radiant Photo as a typical AI editor. There is no sky replacement, no panorama stitching, no layers, no HDR creation. These features were never intended. The best use of Radiant Photo is preprocessing and applying AI to black and white points, color and white balance, noise reduction, sharpening, portrait and face adjustments, And much more.
Buy Radiant Image
The software can be ordered now. The price is $129 ($30 off for a limited time, which includes the standalone version and plugins).
There is also a subscription offering called Radiant Toolkit. After purchasing the software for $129, there is a $50 annual renewal that begins after your first year.
It gives you a full year of Software Update Assurance for your purchased product which begins on the date of purchase. Each month you will receive a $15 coupon that can be used on your choice of Presets and LOOKs in the online store (a $180 value).
You will also have access to special webinars and educational events in the Radiant Photo Collective community.
These benefits can be renewed each year and canceled at any time.