While the digital camera explosion has sparked rapid development and growth in other areas, such as storage and photo sharing sites, the photo editing tool space has lagged somewhat behind. There's the pricey Adobe Photoshop at the high end of the market, and each of the camera manufacturers bundles their cameras with basic editing suites, but there hasn't been much in the middle.
Corel is hoping to change that with its latest entry in the photo editing space, Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 (PSP). Aimed at both aspiring photographers looking to bring more of an artistic touch to their pictures than their bundled camera software allows, as well as workplace communicators working with graphics, version 12 of the software contains a number of tools that make it easier for the novice to take advantage of advanced photo editing tools.
I'll confess to being somewhat of a photo novice myself,sticking mainly to the cropping and auto brightness/contrast tools included with the basic software that came with my digital camera. I did once take a look at Adobe Photoshop, but was quickly overwhelmed by the advanced and complicated features and beat a hasty retreat.
In contrast, with PSP I found it very easy to go beyond cropping and use many of the simple tools to improve my photos, and greatly improve their quality. While there are many tools within PSP that can be utilized by the advanced user that likes to get technical and into the nitty gritty, even as a novice there was a lot I could do.
The basic tools are all there, and I found the one-step photo fix did a much better job then the one-step fix in my basic bundled software. Probably my favorite tools in PSP however were the makeover tools. It was very simple for me to use the tools to remove blemishes, whiten my teeth, remove red-eye, give myself a tan and, yes, even make myself appear thinner. I now look fantastic in all my photos...if only these tools could work in real life!
The makeover tools are one of the new features in this edition of PSP. Another is a new graphite-colored user interface that Corel says makes it easier to see your photos clearly while editing. I'll take their word for it, but it is a nice looking UI. They've also added an express lab for those in a hurry, as well as HDR photo merge, integrated clarify control, layer styles, visible watermarks, workflow improvements, and the auto-reserve of originals.
With its AU$109 price point, Corel's Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 does a good job of making advanced photo editing tools available to a wider audience as well as making them easier for novices to use, while still providing enough in-depth and detail tools to keep the more seasoned photographer looking for more control over what they produce happy.