At first glance the Kubota Image Tools collection of plug-ins for Photoshop and Lightroom is overwhelming, to say the least. With hundreds of features that allow you to do everything, from improve your RAW workflow in Lightroom with presets for creative effects and every day corrections to controlling almost every aspect of your post-production workflow in Photoshop with a multitude of creative effects, time-saving workflow tools and album building templates, Kubota Image Tools offers something for every level of photographer.
For my Kubota Image Tools experience, I focused mainly on the Photoshop based plug-ins. Specifically, the Kubota Fully Loaded Action DASHBOARD Set ($1,029.00). This collection includes over 340 actions for expanding creativity and increasing productivity. For this review, I used my 15” MacBook Pro running OSX10.8 on 8GB of RAM with CS6. The initial install was beyond easy, and once installed the program ran like a dream. Effects were added quickly and I was able to add layer upon layer of effects without slowing down my system. Some of my favorite tools came from the Production Tools V2 Pak: I love anything that gets me out from in front of the computer and back to shooting quickly without cutting corners. There were actions for adjusting resolution, sharpening, noise reduction, as well as a number of options for placing logos and text for creating proofs for your clients. The rest is all about pushing the creative limits. You can spend as much time as you want combining effects or defining your favorites for future sessions. The Action Dashboard makes it so easy to organize, try new actions and fine-tune the actions you love. You can also get additional Kubota Action Packs, with vintage or high fashion looks and classic film effects.
From here I tinkered with the Kubota AutoAlbum ($199) and the Bor-tex ($447) plug-ins. Both had easy-to-use dashboards, like the Fully Loaded Dashboard, and provided me with additional levels of effects and tools that continued to increase the efficiency of my workflow. AutoAlbum gave me access to over 500 album-building templates for creating stunning albums with a professionally designed aesthetic. Bor-tex is for adding textures and borders to your images. As photographers you may question adding these types of effects to your work, but these are the little details that will give you the edge when trying to get new clients or your pushing print and album sales to current ones. These are not your typical cliché effects. They are subtle and gave my work a professional edge that used to take hours to create. Now, with the actions, it can be done in seconds. All three of the above mentioned tools are available as the Kubota Complete Photoshop Set for $1,560.00. If you’re serious about wedding and portrait photography and want to increase your sales, this is the set for you.
My only suggestions for improving on this product would be the ability to buy and download individual actions that appeal to a photographer’s specific style. Not everyone is going to use so many different actions. Even though they can be organized into separate groups, it can still be a lot handle on for photographers depending on just a dozen or so actions in their day-to-day workflow. Fortunately, the Kubota team has designed action packs that do appeal to certain styles or genres of shooting so you don’t have to run out and buy the entire collection. Additionally, Adobe is constantly improving and updating their products, which means that Kubota has to be on their toes and keep their own product updated on a regular basis. One update from Adobe that doesn’t play nicely with your Kubota products could mean losing access for a period of time to your Kubota Image Tool actions—just check in with the awesome tech support people at Kubota before you jump on the upgrade bandwagon. They’ll know right away if your current version of the Kubota Image Tools is going to work with any upgrades from Adobe.
The only thing I’ve found more intimidating than shooting a wedding was the first time I opened the Kubota Image Tools collection. It’s really massive. However, you can’t let the learning curve get the best of you. Since that first time, my fear has transformed into an understanding of how photographers can use this mix of workflow management and creative tools to not only elevate their work, but to improve the profitability of their businesses by spending less time in front of the computer and more time getting new clients and shooting. Buying this “game-changing” set of tools won’t always skyrocket your career, but you have to remember, photographer Kevin Kubota and his team created these tools based on his experiences as one of the top wedding and portrait photographers in the world. Kubota Image Tools is like having access to Ansel Adams’ darkroom—just because you have the same tools doesn’t mean your work is going to look the same, but it might give you the leg up on the competition you’ve been looking for.