Ulead PhotoImpact 11

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Ulead PhotoImpact 11

Pros

  • Offers a bundle of features

Cons

  • Complicated interface, glitchy

Bottom Line

This software’s powerful creative features can’t quite compensate for its annoying interface.

Would you buy this?

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Ulead's Photo­Impact is a handy program marred by a dramatically overstuffed inter­face. PhotoImpact 11 addresses this problem by providing specific workspaces for different tasks. It's a good idea and a big step forward, but in the end this $189 application remains a bit rough around the edges.

PhotoImpact finally supports RAW images and 48-bit colour depth for advanced editing. The package includes a few single-click tools for automatically optimising photos. However, the inter­active, optometrist-inspired "which preset looks better?" fixes for exposure, colour cast, saturation, and sharpening will deliver better results. Ulead includes several innovative tools that make Adobe's Photoshop Elements look positively old school in comparison. Thanks to the program's updated object extraction wizard, you may never go back to lasso tools again.

The SmartRemove function lets you collect a series of photos of the same scene, mark elements for removal, and then deftly combine them to create a final image that reveals obscured objects. Depending on the quality of your source material, evidence of the erasure varies from almost invisible to awkwardly noticeable.

The High Dynamic Range feature returns in this version with a simpler interface and better performance. With it, you can combine several photos of a scene that has tricky lighting to create a properly exposed shot free of regions of over- and underexposure. On the graphics side, PhotoImpact is chock-full of Web-friendly design features, including image maps and rollover effects. You also get Web page templates and a slew of clip art, stamps, and effects such as object deformation and warping (useful for a broad range of special effects, logo design, and other graphical applications). Unfortunately the interface lacks a logical layout; some relatively common tasks, like one-touch correction and image straightening, are buried in menus.

We also experienced a recurring glitch when using the app's Enhance Lighting tool (it's a known bug that Ulead is working to correct) and a frustrating incompatibility with my Minolta-QMS MagiColor 2300 printer.

Ulead supplies two separate photo-organising apps in the box: Photo Explorer 8.6 and PhotoImpact Album 11. Unfortunately, both badly need updating. Each has a clumsy, dated feel, and the two offer overlapping organising and viewing features. If Ulead can make all of PhotoImpact's tools feel as fresh and exciting as the handful of new flagship features, it will have a true winner.

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