Photo editing: quick fixes or manual manipulation?

If you’re a wretched digital photographer — or even a good one — Jasc’s Paint Shop Pro 8 and Roxio’s PhotoSuite 5 Platinum can help you fix your pics. The difference? Paint Shop Pro 8 takes some work to learn but gives ample help, whereas PhotoSuite 5 is easy to operate because it tries to do your thinking for you (not necessarily a good thing). I looked at beta versions of each.

As its uncomplicated interface suggests, the $150 PhotoSuite 5 Platinum is intended for beginners. Roxio calls the program “icon-rich”: instead of toolbars, it has large tabs labelled with text and picture icons. Nevertheless, these may sometimes require interpretation. To reach minimal exposure controls, for instance, you click the Overall Quality tab, a label I found vague.

The $269 Paint Shop Pro 8 has tools to address almost any image issue, but it also offers lots of help for beginners, including an extensive new Learning Center — similar to the Recipes section of the leader in this category, Adobe Photoshop Elements. You also get unlimited telephone and Web-based technical support, a rare occurrence these days.

Like most image editors, Paint Shop Pro 8 provides several auto­matic ways to fix photos, including Auto Color Balance and Auto Contrast. But it doesn’t offer what most people expect from an auto-fix box — instead of simply applying a change automatically, the program pops up a slew of manual settings, including a randomiser button that mixes up settings for creative effect.

Thanks to a new scripting capability, Paint Shop Pro can easily correct batches of images in almost any way it can fix one image. PhotoSuite is even easier to use on multiple images, but you can batch-process with only a small subset of its editing features.

PhotoSuite 5 requires you to preset an output resolution in Preferences. To achieve that resolution, though, the software sometimes adds interpolated pixels — a big no-no for an image editor because the procedure almost always makes pictures look horrible. According to Roxio, this alleviates worry about choosing the resolution. But that’s the problem: the application makes important decisions for you.

Both image editors have nifty effects browsers. Paint Shop Pro shows you thumbnails (in a browser) of your image with the effects applied so you can see the changes side-by-side with the original. In PhotoSuite, clicking a picture icon in the left toolbar representing an effect applies it to your image, though you have little power to tweak it (see here for a comparison of the two interfaces).

PhotoSuite 5 Platinum may work for quick fixes on many photos, but it also could make some of them worse. Paint Shop Pro 8 is far more capable, but it takes more effort to learn. Adobe’s Photoshop Elements, meanwhile, remains more elegant than either.

In brief: Jasc Paint Shop Pro 8
A capable image editor, though sometimes too complicated.
Price: $269 (price for final release version)
Distributor: Communique
Phone: (02) 9622 5624
URL: www.comm-unique.com.au

Roxio PhotoSuite 5 Platinum
Good for those intimidated by toolbars, but poor overall.
Price: $150 (price for final release version)
Distributor: Tech Pacific
Phone: 1300 651 124
URL: www.roxio.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Alan Stafford

PC World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?