To our mind photo editing is as much fun as doing the washing up or mowing the lawn. It’s an evil necessity that goes hand in hand with the wonders of digital cameras, and all we ask is that it is quick, cheap and painless.
That’s why we are firm fans of Jasc Paint Shop Pro, distributed by Digital Workshop in the UK. It’s far cheaper than Adobe PhotoShop and has all the basic flip, rotate, crop and resize tools that we need. Of course it also has filters and effects, but frankly we don’t use those very often and we suspect we’re not alone in that.
For its 10th birthday, Jasc has released an Anniversary Edition of Paint Shop Pro version 7, which includes a couple of extras in the shape of Media Center and Animation Pro. Media Center helps you organise media files in libraries, while that second gadget is a clever tool that allows you to grab frames from a movie clip, edit them in Paint Shop Pro and then drop them back into the movie. This XE (for eXtEnded) version of the Anniversary Edition (confusing, eh?) includes three plug-ins in the shape of Xtras 2, Gloop! and Elemental, and this is where our mixed feelings start.
Xtras2 adds a whole range of tools that add frames, masks, patterns and tubes. Gloop! Is a morphing tool so you can make your friends’ photos look terribly humorous. Well no doubt it will amuse kids anyway. The third plug-in is Elemental, which is a specific set of tools for changing elements such as clouds, wood, water and sky in photos. In other words you can make a light blue sky look dark and cloudy, or a coal fire look like a volcano.
This is all well and good, but be honest, how often do you use specific tools like those? This is the crux of the problem for us as we like the core Anniversary Edition product and found it easy to use with intuitive menus and a pair of very useful manuals to help out when necessary. The ‘getting started guide’ is 146 pages long and the full manual weighs in at 504 pages.
So, while the core program is excellent at just doing the job and doing it well, we found that the XE plug-ins and the trial Eye Candy effects that are included with the software simply got in the way and offered very little value for the extra cost.
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