Easy and Fun: Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3 Review

April 6, 2010

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Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3

Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3

Everyone will acknowledge Adobe Photoshop as the industry standard for photo editing and retouching. Photoshop does have a few drawbacks: It’s huge, complex and intimidating. And, it’s expensive. For most “hobbyist” photographers, using Adobe Photoshop is like using an anvil to swat a fly.

Enter Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3. This application is chocked-full of one-click functionality for shooters who want to spend time taking photos, not learning the intricacies of monolithic image editing programs.

Corel has aimed this package at what they call Photo Enthusiasts: New DSLR or advanced Point-and-shoot photographers. With the number of images they shoot, these enthusiasts need to develop a workflow – from transferring their files from camera to computer, to adjusting and printing files. Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3 is just the ticket, or so says the Ottawa-based Corel Corporation. The application boast easy conversions of RAW files and offers non-destructive editing and HDR merging. The package also offers HD video support, a growth area with the proliferation of video-capable DSLRs.

Corel says their PaintShop Photo Pro X3 is full of professional-level functionality without the professional price tag. At first glance that’s seems true. PaintShop Photo Pro X3 does offer users a great suite of tools.

And, it’s fun.  That’s right – It’s fun to use. You can jump in without a manual, DVD, or PhD degree.

Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3 Orgaziner screen

The Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3 Orgaziner screen

With the Organizer screen, PaintShop Photo Pro X3 lets shooters rate, tag, add captions, and organize their images – the start of a basic digital workflow. Common photo problems can be quickly corrected in the Organizer screen. The Express Lab screen allows users to straighten and crop images, as well as adjust local tone mapping, contrast and brightness, color balance, remove noise and red eye, and sharpening. The Express Lab controls are both easy and intuitive. Multiple photos can be batch processed using the Organizer and Express Lab.

The Project Creation and Sharing options will appeal to many photo enthusiasts.  PaintShop Photo Pro X3 makes collages, photo books, and cards. Finished projects can be printed by commercial establishments or uploaded to popular photo sharing sites.

Corel Smart Carve Tool

Remove someone from a photo the Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3 Smart Carve Tool

Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3 excels with it’s easy photo correction tools. The Smart Photo Fix tool analyzes photos and automatically corrects brightness, shadows, highlights, and saturation. It’s fast, handy and more often than not, accurate – requiring little muss or fuss.

The Makeover tool is also über-helpful. The five modes in this set: Toothbrush, Tan, Blemish Fixer, Thinify and Eye Drop offer fast functionality without a lot of fussy work. Toothbrush mode will whiten discolored teeth, Tan will add color to pale skin, Blemish Fixer helps reduce blemishes, and the Eye Drop tool helps tame blood-shot eyes. The Thinify tool helps photographic subjects virtually lose the weight that cameras seem to add.

Cool DoF with the Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3 Depth of Field effect

Cool DoF with the Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3 Depth of Field effect

The sharpen and noise reduction tools continue the “easy to use” theme this package provides. The depth of field effect, that allows users to focus attention on one part of an image and blur the rest, is a useful weapon in a post-production arsenal. While Alien Skin’s Bokeh is a far more comprehensive application, Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3 makes quick work of depth of field adjustments.

In short, this is a good application. No, it’s not Photoshop, but it’s not trying to be. Listed online for under $90  – compared to Adobe Photoshop’s $500+ price tag, this application is a very economic addition to a new and developing photographer’s computer.

Did I mention it’s fun to use?

In short:

Pros

  • Fun to use
  • Nifty organizer
  • Handles RAW files
  • Non-destructive editing
  • Easy-to-use adjustment tools
  • Great filters and effects
  • Price

Cons

  • Long name – It’s a mouthful.
  • Speed – With a system well above the program’s specifications, I found the preview and redraws painfully slow.
  • Outgrow-ability – Today’s photo enthusiast could be tomorrow’s semi-pro. Will this program be limiting?
  • Community – There’s a huge online PS community with tutorials and associated material – will Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3 users be “out in the cold”?

I don’t consider the cons big drawbacks. New users should take a look at Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3. It may be just what they need. I will keep in on my PC for quick touch-ups and the neato filters.

For more information see the Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3 site.  Or try the trial version.

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