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Armed with a lot of higher end capabilities, Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 is easy to use especially for new users.

Software Review – Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2

Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 is the latest release of Corel's advanced image editing software. The goal of this version of this release was to "make it easier and faster for both new and experienced users to create professional looking photos fast."

Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 is a bitmap and vector graphics editor for computers that run Microsoft Windows. This product will not run on a Mac or Linux system. Originally called Paint Shop, Corel purchased the product from Jasc Software in October 2004. Version 1 of Paint Shop was released in early 1992 as a shareware package.

So what is new with this version of Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2?

• Well first is the Express Lab. This is a mode within Paint Shop Pro that allows the user to quickly view and fix multiple photos in one session. One thing to point out is that it won't apply a fix across multiple images; you must work one image at a time. The lab provides quick access to many of the most commonly used tools such as cloning, retouching, rotating, zooming, rating, basic adjustments, as well as to things like red-eye removal. It also has a best guess feature called "Suggest Settings" where it will try to get the most out of your image, then you can work from there.

• Next is the new Graphite Interface. This is becoming common to do within the industry because it allows the user to focus on the image as opposed to becoming distracted by the interface. It works well here as well.

• HDR Photo Merge is a new ability to allow users to combine multiple under/over exposed images into one good one. Since many cameras have auto-bracketing; the ability to shoot several exposures within seconds of each other at different settings, this merge utility will take the shots and combine them taking the best parts to combine into one. You can also manually bracket exposures as well. To use this feature, you must have a minimum of two and a maximum of nine images.

• Layer Styles are creative effects that can be added to text, images, and photos. These included drop shadows, embossing, beveling, inner glow, outer glow and reflection. These are easy to use and can allow you to be creative when going for special effect on creative projects.

• Makeover tools are tools that make it easy to retouch images. The new Thinify tool will make anyone look thinner with just one click. The new Eye Drop tool takes the red out of blood-shot eyes and two existing tools; Suntan brush and Blemish Fixer have been enhanced to make them much easier to use for the inexperienced user.

• Visible Watermarks allow the user to add watermarks to protect their images from unauthorized reuse. The Visible Watermark though is very easy to use. As you can see from the photo below, it works quite well. You are limited to the corners and the center of the photo; it would be nice to have the ability to place it anywhere. You have the ability to size, emboss, and tile as well as control the opacity of the watermark.

Image courtesy T. Michael Testi• Auto-Preserve Originals allows you to work with your images without having to worry about damaging the original file.

• Save for Office gives you the ability to quickly save a file for web/email, desktop printing, or high quality printing. This way, once you are ready for final output, you can save the file without having to manually resize for one of these destinations.

• Crop to New Image is for people who scan a lot of images; especially multiple images a time. You can use this and the cropped portion of this image is automatically opened in a new document. Since I don't scan images that often, I did not test this, but it does seem like it would be handy if you did.

Included with your package is 3.25 hours of training from Lynda.com that is right on the disk. There is also a version of Corel MediaOne Plus for special download that will allow you to create multimedia shows with your images and music. There are also other extras such as picture frames, edges, patterns and textures that are available as well.

All in all Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 appears to be a very good product especially considering the price is under $100 USD. It has a lot of higher end capabilities and it is very easy to use, especially for new users. The new features show that this is a maturing product and should continue to improve.

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

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