Many photo enhancement apps exist for the iPhone, but relatively few similar standalone pieces of software do for the Mac. However, things are changing.

Last month we reviewed the impressive CameraBag; that app was elegant, but it felt restrictive in use. By comparison, PhotoStyler almost offers the opposite experience: there’s plenty of functionality, but everything’s wrapped up in an awkward interface.

First impressions weren’t great – PhotoStyler’s ‘drop photo here to process’ work area resolutely ignored drags from Finder and iPhoto, but on loading photos directly, the app’s power soon became clear.

Panels provide access to presets, effects and the effects chain. Effects within the chain can be rearranged by drag and drop, and effects parameters are accessed by a double-click. User defined chains can be saved as templates.

PhotoStyler’s predefined templates and individual effects are almost universally impressive; the only drawback is in effects updates not being done in real time – making changes can be time-consuming and a stop-start process.

The general interface also feels awkward and not terribly Mac-like. The toolbar buttons aren’t obvious, and standard zoom keyboard shortcuts are omitted. PhotoStyler falls a little short of being a must-have app for amateur photo enthusiasts.

But if you can deal with its interface, there’s plenty of power under PhotoStyler’s hood.

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