Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3 review

Price when reviewed

First launched in 1992, Paint Shop Pro has a long history harking back to the days when a bitmap generally meant a simple onscreen painting, scan or screenshot. Today, in the age of digital cameras, bitmap handling is almost solely concerned with photos – a change that Corel recognises with another tweak to the program’s name, now PaintShop Photo Pro.

It’s not just a question of rebranding. Corel realises that to make the most of your digital photos you need to get on top of them. That’s why PaintShop Photo Pro X3 now opens by default into its Organizer view. This has been revamped and now offers resizable panels as well as two main display modes: Thumbnail for viewing multiple files simultaneously, and Preview for quickly viewing and tagging your images one at a time.

PaintShop Photo Pro isn’t aimed at the professional photographer, but with the spread of increasingly affordable DSLRs Corel has seriously boosted its support for RAW camera formats. This is most obvious in the new RAW Lab where you can make a range of non-destructive adjustments as you load your files. One of the big advantages of RAW processing is that you can quickly apply the same adjustments to multiple files – a capability that X3 extends to non-RAW formats via the Organizer’s new Capture Editing and Apply Editing commands.

To quickly enhance your images, X3 provides all the most commonly required adjustments and retouching tools immediately to hand in its Express Lab, which is now conveniently accessed as a program tab. New options here include one-step noise removal and sharpening, and the ability to adjust contrast and local tone mapping. Being able to quickly cursor through a folder of images, enhancing as you go, is a huge plus for users and Photo Pro’s greatest strength.

The Express Lab provides surprisingly powerful editing tools but if you need more, complete with features such as layer-based compositing and advanced adjustments and special effects, you need to switch to the Full Editor mode. Advances here include the ability to add and edit vector-based text directly on the image, a new vibrancy adjustment that lets you boost just those areas that are currently undersaturated, and the addition of a range of KPT filters.

The most striking new feature comes in the form of two new dialog-based commands. The first, Object Extractor, is effectively a cut-down version of Corel’s longstanding KnockOut product and lets you create complex selections, such as those required to capture hair and fur, by quickly marking up the edge of the object and automatically generating a mask.


Software subcategory Photo editing software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes
Operating system Linux supported? no
Operating system Mac OS X supported? no
Other operating system support None

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