Some photographers spend hours tweaking an image, using
powerful editing software to pull details out of shadows and
wring out every ounce of color.
A new program called Photolemur for Mac and Windows understands
you don’t have that kind of patience or expertise. If you can
drag and drop, you’ve pretty much mastered the program.
Photolemur runs on
artificial intelligence, analyzing photos to improve color,
reduce noise and compensate for bad exposures. Drag an image
into the Photolemur icon, and a screen appears with an
animation of darting specks of light and lines appearing to
form a 3-D model. It is exactly what you imagine an A.I. brain
looks like as it thinks.
The program tells you what it’s doing, such as recovering
color, detecting faces and looking for a sky to enhance. It
ends with two words — “Doing Magic” — before your photo appears
with a dissecting line you can slide across the image to view
the before and after.
The only button to push, really, is to save the corrected image
to your desktop or send it directly to your social media
platform of choice.
Adobe is considered the gold standard for photo imaging, with
programs like Lightroom and Photoshop. However, some software
companies, like MacPhun and
Picktorial, have designed powerful programs that work
intuitively with slider bars for adjustments or a gallery of
preset looks that get applied with a single click.
Photolemur is even easier, and some of the presets in other
programs feel like nothing more than some heavy-handed layer or
This photo was made with the camera
set at ISO 6400. I purposely underexposed this scene to preserve
a little extra shutter speed.
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of MacThe slider bar reveals the A.I.
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac
Hands on with Photolemur
Photolemur’s automatic adjustment seems to give a photo only
what it needs. Colors pop but not too much. A blue sky gets a
little bluer while still remaining believable. The company says
the adjustments become even more refined the more of your
images it analyzes.
It processes RAW files and recognizes the file profiles of most
cameras. It will even process a folder full of photos all at
In using a 14-day trial version of Photolemur provided to me by
the company, I found the results to be a mixed bag that in all
likelihood were because the A.I. may not have agreed with my
choices for exposure or other camera settings. It also seemed
to perform better with pictures made with a newer digital
I recently transitioned from aging Canon DSLRs to Fuji
mirrorless cameras. Some of the pictures used to test
Photolemur were made with a first-generation Canon 5D that is
more than 10 years old. Others originated from the
Fuji XT-10, which has a more up-to-date sensor than the 5D
and handles much better in low light.
I am certainly not an exacting technician when it comes to
imaging software. I adjust a picture until it looks pleasing to
me. I’m not likely to go into, say, the color channels, to
desaturate the red by 3 percent.
If a picture produced with my old Canon was made in bright
light and with a lower ISO, the setting to adjust your camera’s
sensitivity to available light, Photolemur came up with a
But pictures made in lower light, where I exposed the image
more for the highlights, Photolemur tended to want to lighten
up the shadows to the point where there was more noise. Whether
this is because of the older sensors on the Canon or if it was
from using an already compressed JPEG is unclear. I will likely
test this before my trial ends.
If you can push the export button,
you’ve mastered Photolemur.
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac
The sensors on the older Canon cameras, at least to my eye,
bias toward the color red, and I thought Photolemur often
brought out too much of that red in the skin tones.
But I was very impressed with how Photolemur handled a RAW file
from the Fuji of an image made in a dark music venue where I
had no choice but to pump the ISO up to 6400. There was
virtually no noise in the finished photo. It adjusted the face
of the musician but didn’t go overboard with shadowy areas of
Photolemur review: Better pictures in the blink of an eye
How a photographer adjusts the qualities of light and color in
a photo is done according to personal taste. I tend to tone an
image more conservatively than some of my peers. I admit, my
post-production skills are, at best, adequate.
Photolemur is good if you just don’t want to mess with a
picture but want it to look better in the blink of an eye.
The app was released in December for Mac users only and was
downloaded more than 50,000 times. The developers took feedback
from users, improved the app and made its newest version
available for download Tuesday for both Mac and PC.
It will cost $5.99 a month, but Photolemur is available to a
limited number of users right now for $2.99 per month.
A serious photographer is likely to resist, or even take
offense at, the idea of turning creative choices over to
algorithms. But if faced with a difficult image and prolonged
computer time to make it look good, I might first run it
through Photolemur to see what it accomplishes.