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In a bid to compete with Photoshop, Corel have released an upgrade to XI. X2 is a futuristic looking system that boasts HDR photo merging, new makeover tools and a Crop to New Image feature amongst others.
Corel Paint Shop Pro X2 System requirements
Microsoft Windows Vista or Windows XP, with latest service packs installed
The Express Lab feature allows fast manipulation of many images but is basic.
- 500Mb RAM (768Mb recommended)
- 768Mb RAM required if using Windows Vista
- 1GHz processor (2GHz recommended)
- 500Mb hard disk space
- 24-bit color display, 1024x768 resolution
- Microsoft DirectX 9.0c or higher (included in Windows Vista and XP)
Additional requirements for selected features
- Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express, WordPerfect MAIL or other MAPI-compliant email software (to email from the product)
- Apple® QuickTime 7 or higher (to play .mov movie files)
Installing X2 is quite laborious due to the amount of options available. You are asked what language you would like it in, if you want a desktop icon, right click launch, do I want an icon in my browser and a Yahoo! Toolbar? Once installed, the system is ready to launch and after the important information about X2 has been shown or dismissed, it can be launched. You will be asked once again if you wish to have the Yahoo! Toolbar installed.
New or improved features
The Workspace of Pro Photo X2 is a slick Graphite grey colour and there are plenty of tools available to keep you occupied. Unfortunately, the Graphite styling isn't consistent with the whole system and blue boxes come up when opening files for instance. This doesn't undermine the program but can simply look a little odd.
As briefly mentioned earlier, Version X2 adds new features including an Express Lab, Graphite workspace theme, HDR photo merge, new layer styles, visible watermarks, picture tubes and picture frames, black and white film conversion, new and improved makeover tools, and a new Crop to New Image feature.
The Express Lab is a quick finish system allowing batch images to be edited in a much faster time. The folder of images needs to be loaded into the preview bar at the bottom of the page and then Express Lab can be found in View or as a small Icon above the preview pane. The images are loaded in individually and a smart photo fix editor is displayed on the right featuring Brightness, Shadows, Highlights and Saturation and a histogram to check the exposure. A Suggest settings box is also available with a reset button next to it if everything goes horribly wrong. More options are available below the main picture which include a Crop tool, Smart fix, Makeover tool, Clone and Red-eye reduction. The rest of the images are shown as thumbnails along the bottom of the page. Interestingly, the image has the EXIF data laid out in the bottom left for easy perusal.
The Makeover tools have been improved with some new features added namely the Thinify tool which makes slimming people down a lot easier. The program simply distorts the overall image which can cause problems with the rest of the image, but overall it is very effective. Another feature that has been added is an Eye drop tool for getting rid of red parts of the eye and does work, but samples the pictures and changes them to an eyeball colour, so if your subject has a similar colour outfit on, it will change white. Improvements have been made to the Blemish and Tan tool which can give your subject a healthy glow or, after manipulation, a different heritage.
The HDR merge facility is found under File. Launching the program opens a new window with a browse bar to locate the images you wish to merge. Locating the images, loading them in and pressing the merge button is all you need to do.
For my image, I used the correct exposure image along with five extra images in a gradual over exposure. I also used a sixth image at three stops under exposed which I think balances it out nicely and gives it a sinister feel with the muted gold colours of the brickwork.
The final image will need some processing. Take a look at processing an HDR image here.
The Crop to New image feature is a relatively simple idea and works by creating a new image when the original is cropped, so the new image can be deleted if it looks wrong.
Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 Verdict
The new features on the system are great and I was amazed at what some of them can do. The program is very good for photographers with large amounts of images to process as the Express Lab can churn them out fast like a photo processor and portrait photographers will find the new features impressive and useful as they will cut a lot of editing time down.
Some of the existing features like the skin smoothing are still very slow, however the program will warn you before starting that it needs a lot of memory. The performance of these features may be worth the wait, though.
Whilst the program can be annoying and, some would say, more difficult since Corel got hold of it, Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 offers features that are not available on other programs and this makes editing easier and faster in the long term even with the slow processing time of some of the features.
Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 Plus points
Powerful editing tool
Express lab for quick editing
Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 Minus points
EASE OF USE
Corel Paint Shop Pro X2 costs around £79 or £49 for the upgrade.
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