PaintShop Photo Pro X3 Review
PaintShop image editing software seems to have been around since the invention of the computer, that’s not saying or implying that this software is old and out of date, in fact far from it. Corel took over from JASC some five years ago and has steadily “Corelised” PaintShop into the latest incarnation - PaintShop Photo Pro X3.
The first obvious difference from previous versions is in the name, it now has an added “Photo” in the title. Besides a new name there are plenty of other new features to make this a worthwhile upgrade or a first choice for an image editing application, let’s take an in-depth look.
The new Organiser is the starting point when you first launch PaintShop Photo Pro X3 (pppX3), this now replaces the Browser on previous versions. The organiser is a mini asset management application, from here you can browse folders, add folders to custom collections, search for images and add Tags to pictures. A Tag will enable you to quickly view a collection of pictures. Simply create a new Tag with a unique name then drag and drop the thumbnail pictures onto the Tag, next time you click on the Tag all the images with the assigned name are displayed. There is also a Smart Collections list, this basically creates a virtual folder based on your search criteria, for example if you search for pictures that contain a Tag name of say Castles, then a new virtual folder is created in the Smart Collections section, just click on it and your search will be displayed. The Organiser can be set to display resizable thumbnail pictures or as a Filmstrip with a large preview in the central screen. Generally the new organiser displays pictures very fast and as an extra feature in pppX3 it is a bonus. Although the organiser is good it is by no means a replacement for a dedicated Data Asset Management application such as ACDSEE or Portfolio, but nevertheless it is useful.
Not every picture needs to be fully manipulated, sometimes it only needs a small tweak here and there. Another new feature is the New Express Lab, just highlight a picture and click on the Express Lab button. From here you can perform many basic image editing functions such as Straighten (ideal for pictures with a wonky horizon), Crop, Smart Photo Fix (see video), Local Tone Mapping, Colour Balance, Brightness & Contrast, Makeover tools, Clone brush, Red Eye removal, Sharpen, Noise removal, Rotate and Delete. Although basic, the tools do give you sufficient control on an image. I like the large display and the ability to zoom into image detail. The Express Lab is perhaps a good starting point for anyone just beginning with image editing. Finally when you exit E.Lab your altered image is saved, yet at the same time the original unaltered image is placed in a new sub-folder, so if you need to work on the original image again at a later date then you still have a copy of it.
Once you have exited the Express Lab then you will see the altered image in your Organiser, under the image is a pencil icon, this indicates the image has been altered. You can now right click on the image and select “Capture Editing” or click on the same icon on the top tool bar. Now select another or a series of other pictures that may have been taken at the same time, right click on one image and then select “Apply Editing” or click on the Apply Editing icon. This then runs a script of all your actions applied to the first picture and applies it to all the selected images – GREAT ! – well not quite. The trouble is that now all the images now have the editing applied permanently to them, only the original file is saved in a sub folder in its original state. Maybe an oversight from Corel, unless of course I have missed something.