focus magic

Focus Magic

Toronto. A reoccurring problem with photos whether taken with film and scanned or with digital cameras is blur due to either camera motion or being slightly out of focus. Many imaging applications try to fix this issue, usually via the unsharp mask.

Focus Magic is a small app and plugin for other image software programs. Focus Magic works incredibly well. Initially, it was Windows only, but now it comes as a 64 bit Mac plugin for programs like Photoshop or Affinity Photo. While a little pricey for a plugin, the app is a one time purchase with lifetime updates.

I first used Focus Magic about 20 years ago on a Windows computer. It was by far the best application for correcting an image suffering from slight blurring. Take a serious look at the web site, read the reviews, and try it for yourself.

The back story: I moved from a Commodore 64 to the Amiga around 1990. Over 20 years ago Amiga,  the Rodney Dangerfield of computers, was given its death sentence when the last company making an Amiga compiler discontinued its product. I moved on to Windows 3.11 shortly before that time, eventually building a computer to run Windows 95.

After the speed and fluidity of the Amiga (which was much like Unix), Windows was a serious disappointment. A ray of sunshine was the abundance of quality apps for Windows. I really enjoyed Photoshop, but its sharpening algorithms via the unsharp mask feature were both complex and unsatisfying. A small company offered Focus Magic which worked great to sharpen images. I bought in around version 1.4 for Windows.

Waiting years for the commercial release of Windows Longhorn, I became fed up with the virus issues, speed compromising anti-virus software, the demand for new computers with every Windows OS upgrade, and the inane messages and complexity of Windows. In 2007, I gave up on ever seeing a retail version of Longhorn and moved on to an iMac running OSX 10.4 Tiger (Tiger was once described by Microsoft as just like Longhorn, except it worked).

Around 2007, I emailed the designer of Focus Magic. He said while it was still Windows only, he was working on a Mac version. Years later he made good his promise. Then to my delight, just a few days ago I received an email for version 5 (64 bit). It was offered as a standalone and plugin for Windows and as a Mac plugin for image software.

When Adobe moved to the monthly licence business model, the Adobe programs became too expensive for a casual user; they were limited to the professionals who could write-off the cost. Worse, Adobe wrote most of its programs as 64 bit only after switching to the monthly model. Even older 64 bit Adobe programs started to fail. I had to find alternatives on the now 64 bit only Mac such as Preview for Acrobat, Photos for Lightroom (the geometric error correction module (lens distortion) was 32 bit), and Affinity Photo for Photoshop.

The lifetime upgrade was honoured by Focus Magic including the switch from Windows. They provided a link to get a new registration number if the original, like mine, had been lost. With a new registration number in hand, I made an applications support folder for Affinity Photo and dropped in its plugin. To my delight, it worked like a charm and cleverly sharpened any image loaded into Affinity Photo.


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