Corel PaintShop Pro X9 £60/$80
Ch eap, but disappointing for raw fans
PaintShop Pro is a faithful standby of the photo editing market. It’s an independent alternative to Adobe software that combines an all-in-one novice-friendly approach with a good deal of power.
PaintShop Pro is split into three different modules for different tasks: Manage for browsing and organising your photos; Adjust for everyday enhancements; and Edit for more in-depth image editing.
Edit is where you’ll find the full range of PaintShop Pro’s Photoshop-style editing tools. It offers layering, grouping and masking tools, and a wide range of image adjustments, including lens corrections and graduated filter effects.
It’s not just an image editor, though, adding in text effects (improved in this version) and web design tools (slicing, optimisation, image maps) which may not all be directly useful to photographers. Corel is aiming PaintShop Pro not just at beginners, with new Guided Tours, but business users too.
In this latest version, 10 of the most commonly used edits now preview in real time, including Smart Photo Fix, White Balance and Fill Light/Clarity controls. This is a big improvement on the old dialog previews where you had to commit the effect to the image before you could properly see the full result.
The instant effects in Adjust are fine, but offer no adjustment parameters, so you have to accept them as-is. The Camera Raw Lab, meanwhile, is very primitive, with only basic control over colour and tone.
PaintShop Pro X9 might look cheap, but if you want proper RAW editing tools, you really need to spend a bit more and get PaintShop Pro X9 Ultimate (£80/$100), which includes Corel’s much better RAW processor AfterShot.
Platform: PC only Requirements: Windows 2 or later, 2GB RAM, 1GB hard disk space Browsing: Yes Cataloguing: Yes RA W processing: Yes Lens corrections: Yes Localised adjustments: Yes Layers and masks: Yes Preset effects: Yes Plug-ins: Yes
Features Ease of use: Performance Value for money
Poor RAW editing tools here make X9 Ultimate a better bet for enthusiasts.