When you start to think about digital images and editing them, you can opt for the basic tools that crop and remove red-eye but what if you want to do more? You’ll need to consider paying out for a fully-fledged suite of tools, usually from Adobe or Corel. However, Ulead’s PhotoImpact has been around just as long but it has never gathered the same respect. This may be about to change with version 12 as we found this a great set of tools to get to grips with and use.

The first thing that stands out when you start the package up is the number of tools that are on offer. Ulead has taken a leaf out of Adobe’s book by offering the user the choice of going for basic tools in the form of ExpressFix, and the full array in Full Edit mode.

ExpressFix is easy to come to terms with as it offers plenty of one-click solutions to everyday problems, such as changing the colour balance, sharpening the picture, to the standard red-eye removal and composition cropping. As you would expect, you can view any potential changes before you actually commit to them using the dual-view preview. This is nothing new but it works well.

The real meat of the program is when you swift over to Full Edit as this is where the main changes have been made. For instance, with the increase in high megapixel cameras, there is now support for RAW files, as well as a new Auto White Balance mode, which allows you to change the white balance of an image after it ha been taken instead of needing to get it right before you shoot.

Another neat tool is SmartRemove, which allows you to remove objects from multiple shots with minimum fuss. Then there is the High Dynamic Range tool, which will pull out the colour and details in high contrast shots. This works great and can really make the difference between an average shot and a stunning final image.

If you want to add artist effects to your photos, then there are a wealth of options to choose from, including the usual watercolour and charcoal filters to more experimental takes, such as Impressionist and Decoupage.

Price when reviewed:

When this product was first released it cost £50 but you can now get it as a download for £30, which is a definite bargain. PhotoImpact 12 is a great suite of tools that works well and if you simple want value for money, it’s hard to beat. We feel it’s not as intuitive or easy to get to grips with as Adobe Elements 5 but it’s defiantly worth considering, especially if you’re on a budget.