PhotoPlus X6 in use
Despite a few initial misgivings I had about the interface and overall look of PhotoPlus, the program was quick and easy to learn, I was using all the tools and editing photographs within a very short space of time. I liked the way open documents are displayed as thumbnails in the Documents tab at the bottom of the screen although I would have liked the ability to drag and drop open images onto other images as a new layer. The only way this is possible is to Copy an entire image and then Paste it as a new Layer Ctrl + L, (Ctrl + V pastes the clipboard content as a new image).
You can have an unlimited number of layers or layer groups open for any image (depending on your system memory and file size etc.) Adjustment layers can be assigned to a single layer or to a Layer group. The Adjustment layer options are excellent, Serif has included many useful presets and you can also create your own custom settings into the drop down lists. A Macros tab is also included, macros are a set of pre-recorded actions to apply an effect to an image. There are several predefined categories, each one containing the ability to turn On or Off any of the filters or change the settings value.
The non-destructive crop tool gives you the ability to make fine adjustments at any stage or revert back to an un-cropped version, this feature can also be turned off. PhotoPlus also has a new Depth of Field filter (DoF) which produced some convincing effects. However, the filter does take some getting used to, which is not helped by unclear labelling. The blur amount is set by altering the Aperture Radius, which is, in theory, correct as apertures do have an effect on how much is in focus, but this requires a degree of photographic knowledge (a Blur Amount label would have been more useful). There are several DoF options including, Tilt Shift, Elliptical, Linear gradient, Radial gradient, Layer Mask and Uniform. The Layer Mask option didn’t work as expected, Serif are now aware of this and are working on a solution. Overall the DoF effects are very good and there are plenty of controls to help you produce a desired effect.
The new Smart selection brush gives you the ability to quickly paint in a selection based on adjacent colours, tolerances can be set from 0 to 100 for making a precise selection. There is also a Cutout Studio for cutting out objects or people from an image. This is a poor implementation of an otherwise useful feature. The on-line tutorial uses a very simple image of a bird in flight which wouldn’t present any problem for the Magic Wand tool. On our own image the cutout studio didn’t produce a clean cut out, the hair detail was totally lost.
Photo Plus supports over 400 cameras’ RAW file formats, including many of the new camera models from Canon, Fuji, Leica, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic & Sony. The RAW Studio takes advantage of 64 bit operations, which means images are loaded faster and are quicker to edit. The RAW Studio panel is almost identical in appearance to the PhotoFix panel but there are three extra filters; Output format, Highlight and Noise reduction. Adjustments can be saved as a Favourite and applied to other images. Both the RAW Studio and Photo Fix include the same ready to go presets that can be applied or modified to taste. However, your own saved settings made in RAW studio will not transfer over to the Photo Fix panel.
New feature highlights for PhotoPlus X6.
- The 64 bit engine enables you to quickly open large image files without running out of memory. Compatible with Windows XP, Vista, Win 8 & Win 7 32 bit and 64 bit operating systems.
- The Smart Selection Brush enables you to quickly paint in a selection on an image.
- RAW studio makes full use of 64 bits for faster opening and adjustments of files.
- Non destructive cropping, photos can be cropped, re-cropped or restored to their original state without losing any parts of the image.
- Depth of field filter; create shallow depth of field effects for isolating subjects from the background or simulate a model village look by controlling blur and saturation.
- Create vector masks with fully editable smooth curves for masking layers or adjustments.
- Fill layers; fill a layer with a solid color or gradient and adjust them after creation.
- Noise Reduction; reduce noise in images using a filter which analyses images for frequency noise and removes unwanted artifacts.
- Zoom Range; PhotoPlus’ zoom range has been doubled to improve detailed editing of large images or icon creation.
- Guides can be dragged out from the ruler area or placed accurately with the Alt modifier.
PhotoPlus X6 is a very fast and responsive application, using it on a 64bit system we didn’t encounter many delays even when applying filters to large files. Working on a 32bit system the speed was also fast but we did encounter several out of memory errors. PhotoPlus X6 has everything that other similar priced photo editing software has, but doesn’t offer any ‘must have’ features to make it stand apart.
Recommended – despite a few teething problems