Price: £59 plus VAT
Pros: Has lots of tools, including a new Camera Raw Lab; well-integrated Organizer.
Cons: Organizer lacks side-by-side comparison view; Project Creator is a separate program; it’s not Photoshop
For PaintShop Photo Pro X3, Corel has redesigned the long-standing application’s interface, adding some new features and enhancing others. However, it’s not a compelling upgrade for artists.
The most significant change in X3 is PaintShop Photo Pro’s new Organizer. While the previous version had a floating palette within the main program for accessing and organising your photos, the Organizer is a new window. However, it lacks side-by-side comparison of images, making choosing between similar images cumbersome. If you want to access pictures that are stored on a network drive, you must first map that network drive through Windows Explorer.
Within the Organizer, you can do quick edits in the Express Lab – like a really simple version of Aperture or Lightroom. The Organizer also supplies tools for handling Raw file formats, including the new Camera Raw Lab and the ability to convert batches of Raw files to another file format. Camera Raw Lab doesn’t have the depth of Adobe’s Camera Raw, and it lacks the ability to adjust midtones.
However, PaintShop Photo Pro is much more affordable than Adobe Photoshop, and Camera Raw Lab will do the job for many digital SLR users.
The interface remains quite familiar, with its usual rich and deep range of features for editing and enhancing photos, while the depth-of-field adjuster and the Text tools have been enhanced with easier-to-use and more comprehensive options. There are new tools, too, including Smart Carver, which contracts sections of a picture to delete objects or people.
Most significantly, Corel has now optimised the program’s performance for the larger image files that a typical digital SLR camera now produces.
Project Creator is for creating photo books, cards, calendars, and slideshows. However, it doesn’t show subfolders in alphabetical order, so folder searches were fiddly. It’s also sluggish.
We were disappointed with PaintShop Photo Pro, primarily because we respect the quality and versatility of the main application. But with additions to the front end (the Organizer) and the back end (Project Creator), Corel has failed to deliver a well-integrated, well-thought-out new version, which makes PaintShop Photo Pro X3 feel something like a downgrade.