Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Paint Shop Pro Power Suite Photo Edition 8.0


By Jon Canfield

If you're in the market for a digital photo editor, but you've been put off by the complexity or price of Adobe Photoshop CS, Jasc Software offers a program with nearly the same features at a fraction of the cost. Toss another $10.00 in, and you have a full suite of imaging products that should handle just about any task you can think of.

Jasc Paint Shop Pro, shown in Figure A, has been around for years and is currently up to version 8.0. Version 9.0 is in beta and Connected Photographer will have a review of that version after it's officially released. Paint Shop Pro evolved from simple beginnings into a full featured application with support for advanced image editing tasks such as adjustment layers, easy to use selection tools, powerful editing controls for levels, color balance, red eye removal, and more.


Jasc Paint Shop Power Suite Photo Edition includes all the tools you need in one package. (click for larger image)

I took a look at the Paint Shop Power Suite Photo Edition, which bundles Paint Shop Pro (PSP), Photo Album 4, Xtras Creative Editions 1 and 2, and a book Paint Shop Creations - Demystifying Digital Photography. The whole package is $119.00 (a savings of $90 over the separate purchase prices).

Don't be fooled into thinking this is a simple application. Jasc has done an admirable job of making complex tasks easier to accomplish through the use of One Step correction to automatically fix most common image problems -- color balance, contrast, sharpness and saturation as shown in Figure B.


Paint Shop Pro auto adjustment controls work well in most cases and can be tweaked when needed. (click for larger image)

While the auto controls work well in many cases, they aren't a cure-all. When you're ready to master the individual controls to fine tune your images, the Learning Center will show you how to accomplish tasks.

PSP also has excellent tools for selections, such as the background eraser shown in Figure C, which makes extracting objects from an image much easier than the equivalent selection tools in Photoshop.


The background eraser makes it easier to extract objects from the image background. (click for larger image)

When you are ready to move up to the interactive editing tools, you'll find that you have all the control you need. PSP speeds up processing by not updating the full size image by default; opting instead to show before and after comparisons in the dialog box as shown in Figure D.


Before and after previews, such as the one in the Unsharp Mask dialog keeps processing time to a minimum. (click for larger image)

Before and after previews in most editing dialogs speed up processing. This is a good thing, because I found PSP processed image edits such as sharpening and color adjustments much slower than the equivalent Photoshop operation.