When it comes to editing your digital photographs, you want to feel confident with the package – not be overwhelmed by the information on the screen and be able to easily identify the tools you want. Which is why Paint Shop Pro has always been one of our favourites. Sure, it lacks many of the finer points of its far more impressive, and more expensive, Photoshop, but for the average user it’s all you really need.
So what does this latest overhaul offer that wasn’t already there? For starters, with the growing popularity in DSLR cameras, and the increased popularity of RAW files, support is now offered. The filter allows you to make a host of changes to everything from Brightness to colour sharpening.
The basic interface and engine is still the same, which is a blessing as it was a vast improvement over earlier versions. No longer does it take an age to load your filters and presets and the overall feel is of a far more refined product, which results in less waiting around for things to happen. The makeover tools, which allow you to alter individual parts of a picture, clear away blemishes from a face or even whiten teeth, for example, have be beefed up. This feature tends to work in the same way as cloning but reduces the need for minute detail by flattening the pixels to hide blemishes and problems. While it’s not powerful enough for truly professional results, it meets the average user’s needs.
One of the problems levelled at earlier editions has been the lack of control for histograms, which can make it difficult to know exactly what you’re doing. This has bee addressed in this version, giving the user a far higher level of control.
Some features haven’t changed, for instance, the camera noise removal filter is still the same but as it works perfectly fine why change it? There is also a colour changer that allows you to hone in on a subject, a dress for instance, and change it. So, if you’ve never liked your other-half’s dress sense you can change it for posterity. Newer features include a Phot Tray organiser and a Time Machine, which allows you to artificially age your pictures, which is fun if a little trivial.
You really get the feeling that the developers have been listening to customer feedback with Paint Shop Pro XI.
None of the changes have been detrimental and add to the value of the package.
Sure, there are cheaper editing tools out there but for the time being this continues to be our favourite choice.