The latest incarnation of Corel's Paintshop pro software takes aim at the advancing amateur
Trying to fight for market share with the juggernauts of both Adobe and Apple for elbow room within the photo-editing sector of the software market is a tough job, but Corel’s legacy speaks for itself. Pro Photo X3 is the most recent incarnation of what has been an incredibly successful range of products for Corel, and the new features should make it appeal to anyone baulking at the prices of the likes of Photoshop.
The first few steps of the program are simplicity itself. The browser organises the images in such a manner to allow for smaller versions to be easily scrolled through, and then enlarged to fill the majority of the interface. The file tree and info are laid out in a similar manner to the the Explorer within Windows, so that any PC user will immediately find them familiar. From this section images can be tagged and captioned in order to be sorted later. There isn’t quite the level of organisation of the likes of Photoshop in which faces and places can be tagged, but the grouping once the tag has been entered was rapid and simple to use. EXIF information was readily available at a click, and the two viewing modes made mass processing and investigating a single image far easier. After browsing through the images, editing can be accessed by clicking on one of the two options at the top right of the window, namely Express Lab and Full Editor.
Express Lab is an extremely basic take on image editing, removing any of the more advanced features such as HDR. Basic cloning and Makeup tools are included, but for the most part this is for on-the-fly adjustments. In places the options are far too simplistic, offering only a single slider for the likes of colour balance where even a beginner would rapidly be able to pick up the finer points of adjusting individual shades. For a more involved editing process the Full Editor button needs to be pressed, which then opens Paintshop Pro Photo up to its full capacity.
Although the interface may switch and appear more complex, the features from the Express Editor have simply been expanded upon, with a few extra features added. The Smart Carver, for example, is a simple mask and clone tool in which an object can be shaded in order to be removed. The feature is fairly CPU intensive, and seemed unreliable when processing Raw files, but at least works well enough to get rid of a small object. By colouring in an obstruction, the program can shrink the image around it to account for the lost space, and also manages to maintain a degree of perspective. There are certainly plenty of intelligent features within the software, but it suffers somewhat from being far too basic in the Express Lab section and too advanced within Full Editor.
Not quite as powerful or fully featured as Photoshop Elements, but still worth a look