Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Buyer's Guide 2006: Image-Processing Software
The digital darkroom keeps getting better with improvements in features and ease of use in software programs
There are many other new features in Photoshop CS2, but one more that stands out for me is the Spot Healing Brush. A real time-saver, this feature allows you to click on an offending bit of pixels, such as sensor dust, and it automatically samples the area around that bit, then fills it in to match. If you click more than once, it will continue to fix the spot, usually blending it better each time.
You can purchase the programs separately (Photoshop CS2 sells for $599 street; the upgrade is $149) or as grouped packages of the suite software. Windows and Mac.
Corel Paint Shop Pro X
Corel interviewed photographers about working with images in the computer and then had them work with Paint Shop Pro as the Corel reps watched to see what worked and what didn't. The result is Paint Shop Pro X, an image-processing program that totally reengineers the old interface. While it will appear quite different to the longtime user of Paint Shop Pro, the new interface is far more intuitive and makes it easier to find and use the tools you need.
Two features immediately stand out: the Integrated Learning Center and an all-new browser. The Learning Center is a unique pane at the left side of the interface that groups adjustment tools with a brief explanation of their function. This includes intuitive names such as Adjust, Retouch and Restore, Effects and so forth. The browser now is integrated into the workspace, acting like a little light table at the bottom of the program so you can quickly find and work on images.
Paint Shop Pro X includes new auto tools that make advanced adjustments faster and easier to do. Smart Photo Fix analyzes and suggests settings that will affect color, brightness and sharpness in one step (you can tweak these settings); the interesting Object Removal Tool removes distractions automatically; a black-and-white infrared conversion is included; a great Fade Corrector restores colors in old, faded photos; and Extreme Makeover tools add a tan, remove wrinkles, and fix blemishes and red-eye.
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