Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 goes after casual Photoshop users

  • Ottawa (CA) – Corel has released a new version of Paint Shop Pro, a $100 image editing package that offers a taste of features typically only available in much more expensive applications, such as support for high-dynamic range pictures.

    Since its shareware days in the mid-1990s, the developers of Paint Shop Pro - back then a company that was called Jasc – have been trying to make image editing features much more affordable than what was offered by traditional software of this type, foremost Adobe's Photoshop. That approach intensified a few years ago when companies such as Adobe began offering stripped down versions of their high-end packages: Since then, Paint Shop Pro promises to offer advanced features, without integrating too much functionality for professionals, for example in the printing industry.

    The new X2 version is no exception: It is priced once again at $100 and has grown with a few more features that almost exclusively are designed to appeal to casual photographers. For example, there is now an "Express Lab", basically a batch processing tool that can apply certain tasks across multiple images, including cropping, rotating and color adjustments. There are also more features that Corel has taken from Photoshop version, such as layer styles, an auto-preserve feature for originals and, probably most interestingly HDR photo merge. High dynamic range (HDR) imagery, which combines multiple images with different exposures into one image is one of the most significant trends in digital photography and it is nice to see Paint Shop Pro adopting this feature. According to Corel, Paint Shop Pro also offers a "Clarify" feature to automatically “dodge and burn” bringing out the contrast in HDR images.

    Among the rather strange new functions is a "thinify" tool that can make people in pictures look thinner than they really are. This feature is actually part of a range of "makeover" tools, which also includes a new "Eye Drop" tool takes the red out of bloodshot eyes, as well as an enhanced "Suntan brush" and a "Blemish Fixer."

    Paint Shop Pro X2 is available now and sells for $100.

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