How many times have you made a shot, checked the LCD on the back of the camera, and thought you had "it"? Then you get home, upload the RAW files from the card to the computer, pop the image open in your editor and WAAAH! it's not tack sharp. Oh it's there and it's not bad, but you can see the subtle blurring that comes from microshake. Well now you can fix this with a plugin called Piccure. I first looked at Piccure in the fall of 2013 and my first experiment went badly because I didn't follow the instructions. The manufacturer's representative, a real class guy called Lui, wrote me to point this out and when I used the software as documented it was very good, certainly comparable and in some cases superior to Photoshop's own shake reduction. But I was critical of the plugin because I don't use JPEGs much at all (ok nearly never) and at that time Piccure required the sRGB colour space. They listened and a new update just came out that brings support for multiple colour spaces including my preferred ProPhoto RGB.
If you have used shake reduction before, you may not have experienced that at high resolution and in high gamut colour spaces that the math involved is very intensive. Quick it is not. There are also posts suggesting that you can cure microshake with aggressive sharpening. Perhaps, but not well.
With Piccure, you open your image in Lightroom or Photoshop and then use the plugin. This opens the original as a copy and starts the inspection and rebuild process. Remember that I said to be patient. The math involved is very demanding and depending on your CPU it can take some time. In the end, the result is most often worth it.
Piccure is designed to resolve microshake. That said, you as the user have a great deal of latitude as to how much shake correction to apply. It is very much a one by one experiment with no one size fits all answer. I have inserted two images in this article, the first a 7 step HDR where the camera was mounted on a Manfrotto magic arm for a macro shot. There was microshake involved purely from vibration in the room, given the less than optimal mounting platform. The second is the same image adjusted in Piccure at one step more aggressive correction than the micro setting. I used this explicitly to give readers a sense of the power in Piccure. More aggressive settings on images that are already very sharp, can produce a crunchy effect similar to an aggressive high-pass sharpening, but without the glopping effect and haloing that aggressive sharpening delivers.
Looking closely, you can see the effect of the micro shaking. The image is just a bit soft. At this point no adjustments have been made at all, this is the TIFF output from HDRsoft's 32 Bit HDR processing only. As there were no lens corrections in Lightroom for the camera - lens combination, no corrections were provided prior to the application of the HDR process. Ghost elimination was turned on in the software.
Even in these 72dpi JPEG exports from Lightroom, the quality improvement is significantly visible. This was as noted using the shake correction at one level up from Micro, probably more than I would normally use. I chose this setting to give you a better sense of why Piccure is nothing like trying to fix shake with sharpening algorithms. There is a dimensionality and texture restored that is what the dying rose looked like under the lights. You can also see none of the contrast overload or halo effect found with heavy sharpening, or high pass filter based enhancements.
One reader asked why I would suggest buying a plugin when Photoshop CC can be had on subscription so low priced and incorporates camera shake correction. It's a fair question, and I would say for the same reason one buys any other plugin. It's probable that the work of any plugin can be done in Photoshop, with sufficient time, expertise and practice. A great plugin can accelerate the achievement of the artistic goal, giving you the artist more time behind the lens.
I have come around completely on Piccure. Being able to send it images in ProPhoto RGB colour space right from RAW or a very big TIFF resolves my single major stop gate. My take is that if you want the best images you can get, without the softening of microshake (long lens bird photographers, this may be you!) Piccure is a fast and cost effective solution. It is designed to do one thing, and does it extraordinarily well.
The folks at Piccure have been really professional to work with and have welcomed me into their beta program. I hear great things are coming in Version 2 and look forward to sharing that information with The Photo Video Guy readers when I can.
The folks at Piccure have offered a special deal where The Photo Video Guy subscribers can get a discount on the plugin by purchasing through our link and using coupon code photovideo2014. Click the logo below to buy your own license.