Corel PaintShop Pro X5 Review

Good

Lots of features, excellent level of control.

Bad

Previous bugs have not been addressed, sub-standard raw processing.

Overall

A powerful image editing suite, suitable for both amateurs and professionals alike.

Editor's Ratings

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Paintshop Pro has been around since the 1980s as a cheaper, alternative graphic file editor. Many people cannot afford to pay hundreds of dollars for a package like Photoshop, so Paintshop Pro filled a need. Now that the software comes under the Corel banner, it has more to live up to. So how does it compare?

Software Versions

There is a standard and Ultimate edition. The major difference with the Ultimate edition has extras like the Nik Color Efex Pro 3.0 filters, Reallusion FaceFilter Studio 2.0 facial enhancement options, a ton of new textures, and other goodies.

What is useful for deciding which version is best for your needs, is that there is a 30 day trial version available that has all the features of the standard edition. This can help to make the buying decision between the two versions on offer.

Installation

The package is under 150MB which makes it much smaller than packages like Photoshop Elements which uses 2.6GB of drive space. This makes Paintshop Pro much faster to download and easier to install on older PCs with more limited storage capacities.

There is a web browser toolbar providing faster access to tools for the images shown on web pages, but for most people it is better to opt not to install this during the setup process.

Interface

The interface is typical of this kind of editing application. It tries to fit too much on one screen, leaving the UI looking cluttered. There is a navigation panel on the left, editing panel on the right and the image being edited placed in the center. However, because of the abundance of features, it all looks rather too busy.

Organizing

The organizational features of Corel Paintshop Pro X5 are a mixed bag too.

Plugging a digital camera into a USB port will prompt the AutoPlay feature to show up, but one has to manually locate the folder where the camera has been storing the photos. Images do import as a group through, which makes it difficult to selectively import on a small handful of photos. The level of refinement with importing just isn't there.

It is possible to add ratings or tags through an information panel on the right side, but you cannot simply hover over an image and edit that information on the fly which is a shame. However, there is an Auto Group feature that keeps photos taken around the same time together on the screen. Smart Collections can also be created that can filter using captions, tags, dates etc.

Facial Recognition

The facial recognition feature is quite standard in editing apps where many photos need to be imported and automatic facial tagging is a commonly requested feature. Here the app fails to recognize a lot of faces that have already been identified in other photos before it. It also doesn't seem to learn very quickly or well, so there is more work to do on this.

Photo Editing

The Instant Effects palette provides a simple range of effects that can be applied to photos. Remember to use the Auto Preserve setting to ensure the old version of a photo, pre-effect adjustment, has been saved just in case it doesn't turn out how you want.

There are many pleasing effects to choose from including charcoal drawing, retro styling and more, plus typical color adjustments like brightness and contrast controls.

Effects and Editing

A new panel called "Instant Effects" can be found under the "manage" and the "adjust" tabs and like the name suggests can be applied direct, without requiring any configuration of the settings.

Under the "edit" tab we find the new "Retro Lab" effect, which increases the level of control. However mastering it required a bit of a learning curve.

In order to darken skies in landscape-type images, the "Graduated Filter effect" acts like a graduated neutral-density filter. However, applying it direct on raw images isn't possible. Another bonus is the fact that Corel PaintShop Pro X5 Ultimate comes with an amazing plug in called " Nik Color Efex Pro 3" which is loaded with presets and offers a very acceptable level of control.

Layers

Much like with Photoshop CS6, there are layers that can be created to add new effects and see how they look before committing to them. However, the chromatic aberration correction and other filters do not offer the same functionality as is possible with more advanced packages. For instance, the noise reduction tool did only a passable job of removing digital artifacts in image tests.

Conclusion

Corel Photoshop Pro X5 offers an acceptable job of photo editing, but lacks sophistication in a lot of areas. But this is what you get with the substantially lower price point for the package.

General Information

  • Special Features  : Many
  • Supported OS(es)  : Windows
  • Support  : Tickets

Photo Editing Software Features

  • Corrections  : Few
  • Batch Editing  : Yes
  • Editing Effects  : 250
  • 3D Support  : No
  • RAW Processing  : Yes
  • Editing Features  : Yes
  • Utilities  : Yes
  • Drawing Features  : None
  • Input Formats  : Yes
  • Output Formats  : 50+
  • Sharing  : No
  • Backups  : No
  • HDR Editing  : Yes
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