Serif Photoplus X4 Review

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Serif Photoplus X4

An inexpensive photo editing package or underpowered toy?

Serif Photoplus X4 is a photo editing package aimed at those looking to develop their skills, rather than the established user. With a host of options contained within a friendly interface and a price significantly under the £100 mark, Photoplus X4 has obvious attributes to be competition for Photoshop Elements.

The PC-only Photoplus X4 offers a fair amount of improvements over it's predecessor, including a new look and selection tools. The former makes the layout welcoming to even a complete beginner, as the majority of the tools can be found via a series of simple-to-understand icons and by hovering the mouse in the correct area an explanation for the tool appears. On opening the program a help window is available, explaining every element from opening a document to removing blemishes. The selection tools are contained within the Image Cutout Studio, which appears much like the Filter Gallery, popping up in a separate window. Don't expect anything on a par with a Content Aware Fill, but the coloured selections and brush-based tools make the process a touch easier.

Opening Raw files prompts a separate window to appear to perform any pre-editing changes, such as exposure and white balance. The only issue with this feature occurred when a Samsung Raw file was used, as the software both failed to recognize or open it. The Cutout Studio failed to work for Raw files as well, working for the likes of JPEGs without issue. Alternatively the Makeover Studio works fine, although unlike the Cutout Studio there's no separate window to open, purely a modified version of the help window. Within these options is a chance to allow the software to perform the adjustment, although the nature of the tools means it's simple enough to make the changes manually. Plugins can either be downloaded specifically from Serif or Photoshop options can be used.

At £70 Serif PhotoPlus is well within the price range of Photoshop Elements and, on the surface at least, will offer the beginner a similar experience. Dig a little deeper however and you'll discover Serif Photoplus works much like a version of Elements from a few generations ago, with the basic set of tools to be expected of a photo editing program.

Verdict

Everything is laid out in a perfectly acceptable manner, and is easy to access as well, but there's little in the way of innovation other than separating a few features into different windows. With the value taken into account and the availability of the plugins there's no real reason to opt for this over Photoshop Elements.

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