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PaintShop Pro X7 review: This snappy photo editor's a steal at US$100

Erez Zukerman | Dec. 4, 2014
Adobe Photoshop is more than most of us need--more features, more power, more financial outlay. Corel thinks its PaintShop Pro X7 is a better fit. Retailing at $100, PaintShop Pro X7's Ultimate edition is bursting at the seams with features, and ships with a standalone portrait editor to boot.

If you enjoy this sort of subtle photo tweaking (as opposed to applying retro effects), you're going to appreciate the Perfectly Clear plugin, too. Bundled with PaintShop Pro X7 Ultimate — and missing from the $80 standard edition — it features technology made by a different company, Athentech. It works similarly to the Smart Photo Fix dialog, but the results you get are different due to the underlying engine. Perfectly Clear sharpens your image, adjusts the white balance and skin tones, corrects red eyes, and comes with a number of presets to boot.

Having two dialogs that essentially do the same thing (a built-in one and a plugin) can get confusing, and this isn't the only point of redundancy you'll see with PaintShop Pro X7. For example, the Photo Effects submenu has both a Time Machine tool and a Retro Lab tool. Both do the exact same thing: Make your photo look old. The Time Machine tool uses the old interface style (oddly appropriate, when you think about it), whereas the Retro Lab uses the new full-screen style. These two are separate from the retro Instant Effects on the Adjust tab, mentioned earlier.

One of X7's most-touted new features is Magic Fill, Corel's version of Photoshop's Content Aware Fill. It worked well for me: I drew a rough selection around a crumb of food, clicked the button, and it was gone. Most of my attempts yielded a perfect removal, while others left a somewhat blurry splotch that was noticeable if you knew where to look for it. Changing the selection and trying again fixed this, and that stray crumb of Börek essentially vanished, leaving nothing but the wooden platter in its wake.

PaintShop Pro X7 gives Photoshop a real fight, especially if you're a home user or an amateur photographer. The new-style dialogs are fun to use, and the application is snappy and responsive. It did crash on me once during testing, but was stable otherwise. Having multiple ways to do things isn't necessarily bad — it means you can choose the features that work best for you. PaintShop Pro X7 Ultimate offers excellent value for money.


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