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Beautune is a capable OS X editor for making portraits

The digital era has given us a bountiful selection of apps to improve portraits we take. Photoshop, long the favorite for improving and retouching, is being challenged by a variety of apps that complete a single task -- improve portraits.

Beautune, released today in the Mac App Store, is a US$49.99 Mac app for correcting flaws in portraits. It's good for executing the kind of "repairs" we see on magazine covers.

The work starts when you import a photo. Closeup view work the best, as you want as much resolution as possible. You go through a series of steps to adjust the face, eyes and mouth. An advanced menu is available for cropping, sharpening, defocusing and adding effects and frames. You can share your work with others via email and several popular social networks.

It's easy to get carried away with Beautune, as it is with many image-editing tools. Overdo it and you'll leave your subject's skin pasty and unrealistic. Used with care, you can clean up an image so it looks great for a staff photo, Facebook or just sending to family and friends.

In terms of pricing, Beautune sits about in the middle of portrait apps. Perfect 365 is $39.99 and is mostly automatic in operation, but offers less control. At the other extreme is Portrait Professional, which is normally $79.90, but is currently on sale for $39.95. That's a terrific bargain for such a powerful portrait editor. At the sale price, Portrait Professional would be my first choice.

I have used all three programs, and they're all quite capable. However, Perfect 365 and Beautune suffer from feature limitations when compared to Portrait Professional. Yet all the programs can improve a photo if used with care. You can check some sample photos out at the Mac App Store.

Beautune requires OS 10.6 or later. It is available in the Mac App Store, or directly from the Beautune website. Beautune can certainly do the job, but at the sale price, Portrait Professional would have my vote as the best portrait editor currently being offered.

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