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Corel AfterShot 2 Pro: Photo editor a formidable competitor to Adobe Lightroom

Erez Zukerman | June 4, 2014
In a perfect world, editing your photos would be just as fun as snapping them. Corel's newly-released AfterShot Pro 2 is an $80 image editor for shutterbugs and pro photographers that almost makes it so.

You won't find the Layer Manager on the sidebar: There's a small button on the top toolbar, next to the name of the current layer (which is always Main Layer if you're not using layers). Click it, and a floating pane opens. This presents one of the few confusing things about AfterShot Pro 2: You have two types of layers. There are Adjustment layers, and then there are Heal/Clone layers. You can have multiple Adjustment layers, and a single Heal/Clone layer per image.

Once you have a layer, it's time to select one or more regions of the image to adjust. Using the selection tools is surprisingly fun and intuitive: You can select circular areas, draw out polygons, create curves, or brush over areas of the image freehand. What makes the tools cool is how they scale and control feathering: Each selection has an inner area (the core) and an outer one (the feathered part). Put your mouse inside the core area and scroll, and the area instantly grows. Put it inside the feathered part and scroll, and the degree of feathering changes. It takes longer to explain than to use — a truly fun and nuanced way to make fine-grained region selections.

It's a good thing the region selection tools are well built, because one thing you won't find is a Magic Wand: There's no way to click a contiguous area of the image to make a quick selection. You'll have to manually draw around the areas you want to adjust.

I found AfterShot works well for managing a vast collection of images. Even without creating a database ("Catalog," in AfterShot Pro 2 parlance), you can make nondestructive image adjustments, tag images with keywords, rate them, label them with colors, and flag them as Picks or Rejects. Basically, if you can conceive of a way to sort and tag your vast image collection, AfterShot Pro 2 lets you do it.

AfterShot Pro 2 packs a number of other tricks, such as a fancy HDR tool. But even if you don't dig deep into the product, it is blazing fast, easy to use, and makes for a compelling addition to any shutterbug's toolbox.


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