Corel AfterShot Pro review

£80
Price when reviewed

The tabbed panels on the right handle image processing. The Standard tab brings together the most commonly used raw-development tools, plus a Presets gallery with various creative treatments. Other tabs give finer control: Color, Tone, Detail, Plugins (currently home to a solitary black-and-white conversion plugin) and Metadata, which handles keyword tagging.

The Color tab includes curve-based editing of the RGB colour channels, plus the ability to adjust the hue, saturation and luminance of specific colours. A Range control sets the band of colours to be affected, but it would benefit from a feathering option; affected areas tend to be quite mottled.

Local edits are handled via Layers, which can be defined using circle, polygon, curve or brush tools. The brush has an Intensity control to build up the strength using multiple brush strokes, and the other tools can be feathered to soften their edges. The vast majority of its image-processing functions can then be applied to the selected area – a great improvement on Lightroom’s limited local editing functions. All edits are applied non-destructively, so it’s easy to tweak the processing or selection area.

Colour-processing quality is largely on a par with Lightroom, and just as flexible, but we sometimes found that rescuing highlights in raw files produced odd blocks of colour. Lightroom handles this task better, and its noise reduction is more successful too.

Corel AfterShot Pro

There’s an additional, much more powerful set of controls, called Noise Ninja (a €35 optional extra), but even this doesn’t improve matters greatly. It did a decent job of removing pixel-level noise, but didn’t fare so well for larger blotches of colour.

Lens correction is included, with profiles for an impressive number of lenses (see www.pcpro.co.uk/links/211corel) allowing automatic correction. However, the software only corrects for distortion and not for chromatic aberrations or vignetting. These tools are available but they must be applied manually.

Finally, export options are meagre. There’s no video support, mapping facilities or integration with online hosting services, and export templates to print and PDF are limited. There is an option to output an HTML gallery, but its options are distinctly limited.

Clearly, there are weaknesses, but overall AfterShot Pro represents a highly promising start for Corel. It excels for photo management, with exceptionally efficient filtering, and raw processing is impressive, particularly for local adjustments.

Lightroom 3’s superior image quality, noise reduction and raw format support, combined with its currently low price, keeps it ahead for now, but if Lightroom 4 bumps that back up above £200, we’d happily recommend this keenly priced, extremely capable alternative.

Details

Software subcategoryPhoto editing software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported?yes
Operating system Windows XP supported?yes
Operating system Linux supported?yes
Operating system Mac OS X supported?yes

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