What is the best photo editing software: Corel PaintShop Pro X6 Review.

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What is the best photo editing software: Corel PaintShop Pro X6 Review.

PAINTSHOP Pro started life as a raster graphics editor in 1990. and since being bought by Corel in 2004 there have been six new versions of PaintShop Pro X. The Windows-based photo-ed1t1ng software is des1gned to rival programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Elements. Pa1ntShop Pro has many of the same tools and functJons that are offered by Photoshop and Elements. These 1nclude cloning, selections, layers, colour adjustments, tonal adjustments, sharpening. blurring, brush tools and filter applications. The new additiOn to the Corel software family is Paint Shop Pro X6, whiCh now supports 64-bit for the first time and benefits from a boost 1n speed and performance The interface has undergone a few design changes, the usability in general has been Improved and a few new tools have been added.

FEATURES
Corel liStened to the feedback from its 2.6 million users and concluded that speed, performance and usability were the most des1rable areas of improvement for the software. Subsequently, there have been significant upgrades in all these areas. Corel says PaintShop Pro X6's 64-bit performance shows a 78% increase in speed when cataloguing JPEG images compared to PaintShop Pro X5. Also, more and larger files can now be opened, making it easier for batch editing.

As standard, both 32-bit and 64-bit versions are Included in Corel PaintShop Pro X6. so it will work on both 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems However, some of the plug-ins included in the ultimate version are not supported in 64-bit. On top of improvements in speed, many of the existing features have been made both better and faster. These include improvements to batch-editing scripts, faster HDR tools, better raw support and improved Object extractor. A new additiOn to Pa1ntShop Pro X6 is the Auto Selection tool. This can be used to make a quick selection by dragging a box around an area or object and mak1ng a selection of the area/object inSide the box. For example, if you want to select a red scarf that a person is wearing, by dragging a box around the scarf Auto Selection detects the edges of it and makes it a selection. Another new addition is the Smart Selection Brush. By brushing on an area, the selection will grow to the entire area of the object This is very similar to the Quick Selection tool in Photoshop.

Corel says it is committed to selling ongoing perpetual licences rather than charging on a subscription basis in the future. Currently, PaintShop Pro X6 retails for £59.99 or £44.99 for an upgrade to users who have owned previous versions of the software. PaintShoP Pro X6 Ultimate costs £79.98 or £59.99 for an upgrade.

Two new plug-ins, called Perfectly Clear and FaceFilter3, are 1ncluded in the Ultimate version of PaintShop Pro X6. Developed by Athentech Imaging. Perfectly Clear allows automatic adjustments to be made in one click. This is great for quick editing or for inexperienced users who are not ready to take on all manual adjustments. FaceFilter3 is an advanced portrait-editing plug-in that allows users a wealth of adjustments, such as smoothing skin, changing eye and lip colour. removing wrinkles, adding or correcting make-up and face reshaping. The same two plug-1ns for Photoshop cost nearly £150 on their own, so to have them included in the Ultimate version is a real bonus.

In addition, Ultimate also Includes dozens of additional brushes and textures, and more than 100 royalty-free backgrounds for the creative user. However, PaintShop Pro X6 supports Photoshop brushes, so many brushes can be acquired for free online anyway.

For those who need help using the software. Corel has provided some tutorials, By going to Help> Video Tutorial, the user is taken to the Discovery Center, which offers an ever-expanding library of instructional videos and written articles. The videos cover both photo-editing and photography tutorials. In future, Corel plans to host live webinars to help users learn about
the software.

IN USE

Corel PaintShop Pro X6 is separated into different workspaces in a similar way to Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Elements. Which allows users to control different things in different workspaces. The Manage workspace allows users to catalogue images and organise everything for post-production. Searching for a specifiC set of photos is very easy with the help of an impressive image searching/organising system. Images can be filtered by place, event, person. tags and star rating, although the place option depends on the image having GPS data embedded in the image. Overall, the filtering of images is quite impressive and makes the whole process really simple.

The Adjust workspace allows users to make adjustments such as cropping, orientation, white balance, colour fixes, tone mapping, sharpening and noise reduction. The third workspace is Edit, which contains more advance adjustments such as making selections and multi-layering images. The HDR feature allows multiple exposures to be blended together to create a high dynamic range image. Another great feature of the HDR function is one-shot HDR. Choose one image and the software will make three separate exposures and then blend it into one. Using raw files, it
is possible to achieve an HDR shot of an object in motion - something that is almost impossible using the bracketing method.

I was impressed with the raw-editing software in PaintShop Pro X6 as it had no trouble reading a selection of recent raw files. The adjustment controls such as White Balance, Brightness, Highlight Recovery and Shadows work well, although they would benefit greatly from some visual aids to ind1cate what values you are changing. For example, under White Balance there is a tint.

Although the operating speed of PaintShop Pro X6 has been increased, it can still be quite slow when demanding adjustments are made. I found that when using a 64-bit PC with Intel Core
iS processor and Windows 7, on-screen previewing would lag when changing adjustment values in comparison to other software, Paint Shop Pro X6 is still slow, although it is an improvement over previous versions.

Verdict

COREL PaintShop Pro X6 is packed with automatic photo fixes. Although these automatic f1xes are rarely better than doing things manually, they offer a fantastic solution for the beginner
or provide a rough guide of what to do. There are also advanced manual controls available for the more experienced users. I found slight adjustments on raw images to be particularly good.

For enthusiast photographers who want quick editing, Paint Shop Pro X6 offers great value for money, and it has the functionality and tools to rival most other software. This latest version could still benefit from being a little faster. But overall the new design looks good and the software is easy to use after a little practice.

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What is the best photo editing software: Corel PaintShop Pro X6 Review.
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