Paint Shop Pro X4
For most needs, Paint Shop Pro X4 more than fits the bill.
The Ultimate edition provides you with a Corel edition of Nik Color
Efex Pro 3.0 (full version with no restrictions), extra Picture Tubes,
stock images from Fotolia and a printed guide to the program.
My recommendation would be to give the 30 day free trial the chance to
persuade you that you don’t need a second mortgage to carry out quite
sophisticated image processing.
From a price point of view Paint Shop competes with Photoshop Elements
and can generally be found for about one-third less than Elements.
It competes with Photoshop from a feature point of view at a
fraction of the cost of the full version of Photoshop.
What are the
Corel claim that Paint Shop Pro X4 will run on Windows 7, Vista and XP,
and that it is
more stable than X3.
Personally, I’ve run it on the first two
operating systems and side-by-side with X3 with no
use WACOM tablets, both my Bamboo and Intuos performed as well as in X3
use. It ran adequately on my laptop machine, but fine editing
really only possible with a tablet.
new in X4?
The very first time you boot the software, the Manage screen will greet
you. It is in this screen that tagging, labeling and filing
be carried out. Camera and image details appear at this point
At the top of the screen there are two new tabs - Adjust and Edit.
The Adjust tab takes you to a
basic yet comprehensive editing facility, just like the Smart Photo
Fix in X3 in which a quick fix can be made to the
follow each of the sections and sliders down in turn, the brightness,
contrast, colour balance, sharpening can be adjusted. The
software has a feature called Suggest
Settings in which image
settings are offered.
The Edit tab takes you to the full X4 editor screen.
You can set the program to go to the tab of your preference at
start-up, in the File sub-menus. At this point you will meet
new RAW editor (assuming that the image is RAW).
The RAW converter is not the most accurate one on the market.
can lead to some errors in colour temperature and demosiacing with some
camera RAW files. Corel have promised that the problems
with some camera RAW files will be addressed in a Service Pack patch in
the near future. This problem will not occur if you’ve shot
The new interface has a larger preview screen than earlier versions,
and more basic editing
adjustments can be made.
settings can be remembered for the next time you access that image.
The adjustments are (from top to bottom)
- Scenario (adjustable)
When you choose, you are taken to the Edit workspace.
In this lies one of my major criticisms of the
workspace is too dark by far. The programmers of Paint Shop
X4 have promised that an option to change the workspace to at least one
other lighter shade.
Similarly the monochromatic buttons/icons can cause some
confusion. Again different button sizes and colours may
in future patches or Service Packs.
The menu structure of Paint Shop Pro X4 is very logical and allows
layers to be created and manipulated readily.
In Paint Shop Pro X2 we first saw High Dynamic Range. Paint
Pro X4 has refined this process and added the Photo Blend feature which
resembles the Photoshop Elements 9 Photo Merge Group Shot and Street
in which objects can be added to or omitted from an image manufactured
from two or more similar shots of the same scene.
preference is for the Photoshop Elements 9 feature despite my loyalty
to the Paint Shop
The one big edge that the program has over Photoshop Elements 9 is that
the filters and
adjustments are now 16 bit driven, bar one. The histogram
adjustment remains 8 bit.
The advantage of 16 bit images is that less of the original information
is lost than is lost with an 8 bit image.
Two ways of adjustment are possible. The Adjust sub-menus
changes directly to the image, e.g Colour Curves; Hue and Saturation;
Colour balance; Sharpness. The Layers
> New Adjustment Layer
sub-menus allow you to add a layer which can be repeatedly edited
subsequently should you so need, but without destroying the original
image layer. But beware, multi-layered images are costly on
space and working memory. Paint Shop Pro X4 is not noted for
economically recycling used memory space.
Colour curves in Paint Shop Pro X4 give much more
control than Photoshop Elements 9.
In Photoshop Elements 9 your adjustment of colour curves is in 8 bit
and restricted to changing the input values at 63; 127; 190
Whereas, in Paint Shop Pro X4 there is the same infinite possibility as
in CS5, and with 16 bit support so that less of the image data is
lost. In Photoshop Elements 9 you are limited to
presets in the
Adjust category; in Paint Shop Pro X4 you can make, save and recall
your own presets.
Whilst Paint Shop Pro X4 has new brushes, and
tools, many of us turn to specialist filter plugins which have the
edge, even over Photoshop CS5. I’ve tested many of these in
X4 as well as in Photoshop Elements 9 and Photoshop CS5 to check that
they worked and most do.
Focus – Tilt-Shift
Why anyone should want to make the waterfront at
Quay and the
CBD in Sydney look like a model using
focus, I don’t know. But, you can, and I have,
Pro X4, since that is one of the new features in the Effects > Photo
Effects sub-menus. Old favourites like vignette;
are there as well.
I can’t show you all of the enhancements Corel has made since X3 that
I’ve explored as a tester; some of the work I’ve seen from fellow
testers has shown the widest range of artistic possibility from the
product which matches the best out there in the marketplace.
Selective Focus - Tilt Shift