I’m old enough to remember being limited to taking 36 photos on each roll of analog 35mm movie. This physical limitation caused me to consider my subject and my composition much more carefully than I do now. In the digital age, I can capture hundreds of images in a single shot, which gives me the problem of finding the best shots to share when I get back to my Mac. I could spend as much time scrolling through the thumbnails to “sort the wheat from the chaff” as taking the pictures!
Fortunately, the continued evolution of AI (Artificial Intelligence) has led to the rise of photo selection apps such as PhotoRefine.ai. Like similar Aftershoot, PhotoRefine.ai will analyze a large collection of Raw or .jpg files and rate them against a range of criteria to help you find the best shots (and avoid having to manually scroll through and discard the worst).
PhotoRefine.ai is available for subscribers of Zenfolio, an online service that allows photographers to create promotional web galleries, sell their work through a store, and even take bookings from clients for events such as weddings. PhotoRefine.ai can be downloaded by Zenfolio subscribers as a standalone application that lives on their PC. It does not require a web connection to analyze and select your photos.
If you sign up for a free trial Zenfolio account, you can download a trial version of PhotoRefine.ai and put the application to the test! Check out our support video to see a detailed description of the PhotoRefine.ai workflow.
Watch the video: Our step-by-step video guide (above) on PhotoRefine.ai will show you how the software works from start to finish
macOS Sierra or later (10.12+)
Intel® processor with 64-bit support, SSE4.2 and AVX instruction sets; 2 GHz or faster processor
Microsoft Windows 10* with 64-bit support (version 1803 or later)
Intel® or AMD processor with 64-bit support, SSE4.2 and AVX instruction sets; 2 GHz or faster processor
PhotoRefine uses AI to analyze a folder full of photos and apply star ratings and color labels to them. Ratings refer to shots that meet criteria such as sharpness, open eyes, face focus, and face happiness. The traffic light color labels assigned to each shot refer to the default sharpness, with the sharpest shots being rated green. If you create a custom preset profile, you can assign the labels to indicate other properties, such as the presence of a smiley face.
PhotoRefine.ai will also group similar shots together so you can find the best image in a series. You can direct the AI to eliminate different subjects using presets such as Portrait or Wedding. PhotoRefine.ai doesn’t move photos or copy them – you just tell it where the shots are. Once the star ratings and color labels have been assigned by PhotoRefine.ai, they are saved in the metadata of the original .jpg file.
If you delete raw files, notes, etc. are saved in an appended .xmp file. This lets you open your AI-rated photos in an app like Lightroom where you can filter them by rating or tag to find, edit, and share the best photos while ignoring those that are blurry or have your eyes closed.
Interface and usability
PhotoRefine.ai has a contemporary black and gray interface that gives you all the tools you need to view and select your photos without distraction. It’s a clean and well-designed workspace, with pops of color coming from the labels assigned to each thumbnail. You can change the size of thumbnails to make them easier to see in grid view, or double-click to see a larger clip next to an adjacent filmstrip.
The Group view allows you to compare a series of similar plans. You can manually override AI ratings and also choose to select or reject files with a click. You can then view the selected files later using the filter system. PhotoRefine.ai’s filtering system is very versatile. You can view any combination of color-tagged and star-rated files to narrow down your search for the best images.
To test PhotoRefine.ai, I gave it a folder full of 518 images from a model shoot. My model – Mia – was an experienced professional, so she launched into dozens of striking poses every minute without needing any instructions from me! This led to large groups of similar shots that I was able to browse. The beauty of PhotoRefine.ai is that you can customize its priorities. You can drag a slider to include a wider range of similar shots in a group, or force it to bring together smaller groups of very similar or identical shots.
The Portrait preset will use a hierarchy of ratings based on sharpness, open eyes, face focus, and face happiness. So a sharp photo with a smiling face will get a higher star rating than a soft photo with closed eyes and a pout. You can create your own presets and rearrange the hierarchy of star rating criteria to give higher priority to facial happiness. Modern models are pout-prone by default, so I was able to find the rare smiley shots more easily with PhotoRefine.ai’s customizable presets.
To help you understand how a particular shot was rated, you can click on the People panel to find out what criteria the AI used to rate and label it. It displays a percentage value (and a color label) for properties such as Focus, Prominence, and Expression (a smiling subject for example). By default, PhotRefine.ai displays a low-res preview of each shot, so if you need to examine it in detail for sharpness and noise artifacts, you’ll need to click “build 1:1” for a shot of quality view.
PhotoRefine does a good job of finding the best shots (with 5 stars and a green tag) while adding faint stars and red tags to images that are blurry, lack strong expression, and captured the subject in a snap. eye. However, the AI isn’t as subjective as a human, so you can manually override some of the ratings and labels given by the app’s machine mind. For example, when our model tilted her head down, her eyes were not clearly visible, so this was reported as “eyes closed.” To the human eye, the model had a demure pose that was worth keeping. The app’s ability to group similar shots together helps you find the best image in a series, and it works well with Lightroom Classic. It should therefore be a useful addition to a professional photographer’s workflow, especially if they have a large group of images to cull.
See our Review after shootingfor an alternative photo selection software solution