Corel PaintShop Pro X4 review

Price when reviewed

The second, Photo Blend, lets you mark out the areas that you want to use or lose from multiple shots of the same image, handy for removing passing objects or taking the best face from all members in a group portrait. Both features are welcome additions, but inferior to the similar capabilities in Photoshop Elements.

Corel has also streamlined the Manage workspace’s Fullscreen Review mode to concentrate on rotating, rating and viewing. To be able to enhance your images as you go, you need to switch to PaintShop Pro X4’s new Adjust workspace (previously known as Express Lab). Here, you can load each of your photos in turn to apply the most common global adjustments such as Smart Photo Fix, Brightness/Contrast and Colour Balance.

With various performance improvements, including GPU optimisations, even complex effects such as Noise Removal and Local Tone Mapping update in real time. As does the new Fill Light/Clarity filter, which lets you bring out subtle details, especially in shadow areas – a great addition.

With easy access to tools for cropping, straightening, red eye removal, makeover effects and cloning, along with the option to automatically save edits and preserve copies, the streamlined Adjust workspace is undoubtedly the highlight of this release, and will provide all the editing power you need in the vast majority of cases.

Corel PaintShop Pro X4

For occasions when you need more, the Edit workspace gives you full access to everything else PaintShop Pro X4 has to offer: selection-based handling, artistic brushes, picture tubes, text handling, advanced layer-based composition and so on. This is also where the software provides a wide range of useful, and not so useful, filter effects, including two significant additions.

The first, Vignette, lets you apply a soft outer border around the area you want to highlight. The second, Selective Focus, lets you blur out unwanted details, as well as create tilt-shift effects where real world scenes are made to look like surreal toy-like models.

With Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 essentially treading water (see opposite), PaintShop Pro X4 is certainly gaining ground and may well prove the better, not only cheaper, option for many users. This is particularly the case when it’s used for fast photo enhancement and in-depth editing, with the free Google Picasa taking care of high-end organisational duties and web sharing.

Ultimately, however, we can’t quite bring ourselves to recommend PaintShop Pro X4. While its streamlined interface and workflow certainly look the part, in practice there are still too many shortcomings and rough edges – on our 64-bit test system we experienced a handful of bugs and crashes while reviewing the product. So Photoshop Elements’ more complete and polished solution retains its edge – but only just.


Software subcategoryPhoto editing software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported?yes

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