Graphics editor with extras: PhotoImpact XL beta

For a long time, PhotoImpact has been positioned in the mid-tier image editing market. Competing products include Adobe’s PhotoShop Elements and Jasc Software’s Paint Shop Pro, from which Ulead’s PhotoImpact differs in its packaged bundle and the ever-improving core module.

PhotoImpact XL, the name of the new beta, could well refer to the size of box required for the next edition, as bundled software includes image organiser PhotoExplorer 8, GIF Animator 5, 360º panorama creator Cool 360, PhotoImpact Album (a cataloguing system for up to 65,000 images per album) plus 5000 royalty-free images with Hemera Photo Objects.

Ulead excels in enabling inexperienced everyday users to polish photos to a professional standard. New in this effort is the six-step wizard ExpressFix, which attempts to correct the most common problems found in digital photographs: exposure, colour cast and saturation, focus and skin tones. Although this won’t give the best results, ExpressFix is a quick and easy tool for those not-so-important jobs. Alternatively, users can opt to tweak images themselves (see here for a screenshot).

The beta includes a range of new filters, giving similar effects to lenses and lens filters used in professional photography. These include Diffraction, Sunlight, Add Moon and Multi-Vision. Also new is High Dynamic Range, which lets users combine two or more photos of the same subject, at various exposure levels, to create a single ‘super-realistic’ quality image.

As in previous editions, PhotoImpact XL supports a wide number of formats and it outputs easily to a range of media including VCDs, Web, e-mail and multiple printer layout options.

In brief: Ulead PhotoImpact XL beta
[pre-production version, not rated]
Ulead builds on substantial graphics editor experience and makes this bundle well worth its price.
Price: $189 retail box ($US80 download from Ulead)
Distributor: Pineapplehead
Phone: (03) 9852 7444

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