Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo Review Cary NC

Paint Shop Pro X2 has editing features found in Adobe Photoshojp, not Photoshop Elements, which combine editing and graphics in a program designed for the creative amateur. New features are appealing and engaging.

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Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo Review

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TopTenREVIEWS - Silver Award - Awarded for excellence in design, useability and feature set

Paint Shop Pro has long been a staple for beginner and even advanced photo editors and designers who don’t want to fork out hundreds of dollars for a program with features they won't use. While having the latest and greatest version of Photoshop may make you sound informed and knowledgeable, the reality is many graphic designers could get by with a cheaper yet nearly as powerful program like Paint Shop Pro X2.

Paint Shop Pro X2 is the latest photo editing suite from Corel, and it will fill the needs of novices and experts alike, and earns our "TopTenREVIEWS Silver Award" for photo editing software. With its deep Help System and clear interface, Paint Shop Pro X2 gets the job done better than most, and for a more than reasonable price.

With Paint Shop Pro X2, we’ve conducted our usual in-depth review, and in addition we’ve made some quick tutorials and taken dozens of screenshots to peruse. Sometimes it’s difficult to get a real handle on how a program works until you see how it is used. So if the reading becomes too laborious and nebulous, take a peek at the screenshots and tutorials.

Should you have trouble deciding which program is for you, refer to the side-by-side comparisons, and our reviews of Adobe’s Photoshop Elements and Serif’s PhotoPlus X2; both of which are viable alternatives to Paint Shop Pro X2. Adobe even has the ultimate in professional graphics editing solutions in Photoshop CS3, if you decide you need more than these programs feature.


Ease of Use:  Excellent

Paint Shop Pro X2 is incredibly easy to use. You hear nearly every manufacturer of any software type make this claim, but Paint Shop Pro X2 backs up the claim with superb usability. The toolbar has become fairly standard over the years, with most manufacturers taking cues from Adobe, and we believe this is a good thing as most photo editing programs come to have a familiar layout and tool set. Paint Shop Pro X2’s toolbar is standard with buttons for selecting, outlining, cropping, cloning, erasing, filling, painting, and text entry.

For those unfamiliar with these tools and concepts, Paint Shop Pro X2 has a conveniently placed Learning Center on the left side of the window pane that teaches and shows how to adjust, retouch, and add effects, text, and graphics to your pictures.


Importing:  Very Good

Not only can Paint Shop Pro X2 import pictures from your scanner, hard drive, or CD/DVD; but you can download pictures directly from most cameras and memory cards. There is also a built-in screenshot capture feature. Make fast work of standard edits in the Express Lab where you can crop, rotate, straighten, remove red eye for an entire imported folder. 


Editing:  Excellent

Editing photos can be easy with Paint Shop Pro X2’s One Step Photo Fix. With one click, Paint Shop Pro will make automatic adjustments to color, brightness, contrast, and sharpness. In many cases, this was enough to bring out that extra amount of detail or vivid color, but sometimes it just doesn’t do the job.This is where Smart Photo Fix comes in. Manually adjust brightness, saturation, focus, and black and white levels until you get the results you want. Smart Photo Fix shows you the before and after in real time so you always know what the end result will be. Additionally, One Step Noise Removal will automatically get rid of unwanted pixels or groups of pixels that show up as a result of image compression. The Color Balance editor makes it easy to make a picture appear “cooler” or “warmer” by changing the color temperature and tint in both white balance and color balance. Similar to the Photoshop’s Dodge and Burn tools, Paint Shop Pro X2’s Clarify tool analyzes the image and adjusts the brightness in each region to intelligently compress contrast into a range that can be shown on screen or on a print. In English, the Clarify tool will sharpen your image, you just choose the strength of the effect and Paint Shop Pro X2 does the rest. It’s a great way to bring out fine detail in an image.It’s rare that one remembers to take a tripod to the game or on a hike, and often it’s just too heavy and cumbersome an accessory to lug around. As a result some pictures are more blurred than we would like. Enter High Pass Sharpen, the last in the Enhance Photo tool set. By increasing the contrast of certain pixels, the High Pass Sharpen tool will make the blur crisp again. Specifying the radius around the soft edges will tell Paint Shop Pro X2 how far to go, and the resulting image will be much clearer. It’s something one must play with and adjust manually, but it’s an essential tool in the photo editor’s array.

Bonus Features

Where to start? Paint Shop Pro X2 has a built-in photo organizer, and a vast library of effects that turn your photos into digital works of art.The photo organizer is always present at the bottom of the window, so you don’t have to switch to a separate application or keep Windows Explorer open at all times. Images and video can be automatically categorized by naming convention, size, date taken, rating, tags, and so on. The “canned” effects and filters, while not unique to Paint Shop Pro, are numerous, diverse, and just plain fun to test. Anything from making photos look 100 years old to psychedelic renderings are possible, and your inner Andy Warhol can shine through.

  • Makeover Tools: thinify, whiten eyes and teeth, smooth wrinkles, add a tan, and remove blemishes
  • Change the color of a single object
  • Erase backgrounds but maintain overlapping fine details like a strand of hair
  • Go Retro: Use the Time Machine to make photos look like they were taken from the 1800’s through the 1960’s. You’ll get an informative description of photographic processes at each point on the time line.
  • Picture Tubes: Add graphic elements to your photos. The image library is a mixed bag, try the photo images. Click away—objects in the tube vary with each click. Makeup: lipstick, mascara, blush … what’s next? Easily change position and size.


Sharing:  Very Good

Print contact sheets and many combinations of photo sizes on one sheet with Paint Shop Pro X2’s templates. Emailing photos has never been easier: one click and the email form opens with your selected photo in it. Uploading photos to an online photo sharing site is as fast as your broadband connection can go. All of these methods are well designed and easy to do.


Output Capabilities:  Excellent

Paint Shop Pro X2 has professional output features, including image slicing for html. This is handy when you have an image that must be divided into sections to fit in html tables. It also has a JPG, GIF, and PNG optimizer for web graphics. You can also save your files in 50 different formats.


Organizing:  Excellent

The organizing function of Paint Shop Pro X2 is efficient and useful. Drag and drop keyword assignments and click to use the 5-star ranking system. Do the work now and your future searches will be much more efficient. 


Help/Support:  Excellent

Paint Shop Pro X2’s context-sensitive Learning Center helps you out as you edit. Context-sensitive means the Learning Center knows which tool you are using, and displays relevant information as you work on photos and projects.  This makes learning Paint Shop Pro X2 seamless. Conversational language makes task selection easy and speeds program mastery. Corel also offers online help, a knowledge base, forums, complimentary email for customer support and technical support by phone for a fee.


Summary:  

Paint Shop Pro X2 has editing features found in Adobe Photoshop—not Photoshop Elements—which combine editing and graphics in a program designed for the creative amateur. New features are appealing and engaging. At last, a program that's fun to use. If you want to take your photos into the graphics world, this is the most cost effective way to do it. Yes, you’ll need more time for mastery, but the results are worth it.


Read review at TopTenReviews.com