Review – Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3

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PaintShop Photo Pro X3, by the good folks at Corel, offers a photo management and photo editing tool all in one. Geared toward the hobbyist photographer and novice photo editor, the program combines powerful organizational and editing tools within a user-friendly and affordable package.

Upon first launching the program, the very first functionality the user is met with is the Organizer screen. The layout is reminiscent of Adobe Bridge, for those of you who are familiar with that program. Photographs are previewed in the center area, with the file directory to the left and file metadata to the right. Thumbnails of the pictures in the folder are shown across the bottom of the screen. The user has the ability to append additional metadata and captioning (though I have not yet figured out how to set up a metadata template that could be applied to all photos).

The top right hand corner of the Organizer screen has a button for “Express Lab” and “Full Editor”. The Express Lab offers a variety of commonly used “quick fix” tools that can be easily applied to RAW and JPEG file formats, as well as other standard file types. The user can zoom and pan, straighten photos, crop, adjust the color balance and brightness, sharpen, rotate, and remove noise. The Express Lab also offers a few unique tools – “Smart Photo Fix” uses predetermined settings in order to adjust the photo’s exposure, contrast, etc. automatically. “Local Tone Mapping” increases the dynamic range of a photo in order to enhance details – which is a truly excellent tool when used with the HDR Photo Merge functionality. The “Makeover Tool” allows the user to remove blemishes, whiten teeth, apply a suntan, remove red-eye, and even make the subject thinner.

For more advanced features and functionality flexibility, the user can open the photo in Full Editor. If the file is in RAW format, the Full Editor automatically opens in the Camera Raw Lab, for white balance adjustments, exposure correction, brightness and saturation settings. There are the standard features that one would expect in a photo editor, including all of those available in the Express Lab. However, a few specific tools caught my eye. One is the “Smart Carver”, which enables the user to remove objects from photographs and alter the aspect ratio without distorting the image. The “Object Extractor” enables one to copy elements from one photo onto another background. The “Depth of Field” effect creates a shallow depth of field for original shots that were taken in a wider depth of field – the user can also select specific points of the photograph they wish to keep in focus, while blurring the rest.

In addition to these photo editing capabilities, PaintShop Photo Pro also comes with Project Creator for creating photo books, collages, cards, calendars, and more. Essentially, the program has everything an amateur photographer will need to download, process, and share their photographs.

Personally, I am still learning the program and will be sharing tutorials in the future. My familiarity with Photoshop enabled me to pick up on this program fairly rapidly, though I will say that someone with no familiarity at all in photo editing should be able to pick up the basic functionality of this program quickly. No educational documentation came in the box with the software, so I have been obliged to use Corel’s on-line help to answer some of my questions. The program’s “Learning Center”, accessed from any screen in the Help Menu, provides screen-specific information regarding the functionality, icons, and buttons available for that screen. Clicking on any button brings up specific instructions on how to use that tool.

There are a few “con’s” that I’ve noticed while working with the program, though nothing that, in my opinion, should deter a potential end-user. The program is slow while opening raw files. While in Express Lab, when switching from one raw photo to the next, the program resizes the view to 1:1 aspect ratio, instead of using the previous view or fitting the photo to the window. The program also tends to close or minimize windows after saving from raw to jpeg. Finally, it is hard to append metadata, does not allow for custom metadata templates that I can see so far, does not include the lens type used in the metadata, and essentially captures less metadata than Photoshop.

All in all, as I become more familiar with Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3, I am enjoying its features more and more. I would highly recommend it to budget-conscious photographers who would like a powerful photo editing tool without having to pay an arm and a leg for it.

Do you have opinions and/or experiences with this program? Feel free to share in the comments!

Photo credits (all): Tiffany Joyce.

*The Author received complimentary software in exchange for mentioning the Provider’s products and/or services on this website. Such compensation received did not and will never influence the content, topics or posts made on this website. We will only endorse products or services that we believe, based on our expertise, are worthy of such endorsement.

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  • Nikon Coolpix Reviews

    PaintShop Photo Pro X3 is really a great photo management tool. I am a regular user of it. Good article.

  • Jimthepencilman

    Why not just take a picture properly in the first place instead of creating something that is not real and calling it a picture?