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Review: Paint Shop Pro Photo XI

Paint Shop Pro Photo XI [LINK]
Corel Corporation [LINK]
Reviewed by
Kevin L. Kitchens
Review Publication Date
January 02, 2007

PSPXI Screen Layout
Paint Shop Pro Photo XI is the latest release from Corel in the classic Paint Shop Pro series of photo-editing and digital imaging software. Having been a fan of this series since version 2.0 when it was originally developed and produced by JASC Software, I always look forward to the next release. As digital photography has become more mainstream, it's always interesting to see what new features and improvements are made to enhance our day to day workflow.

Upon first launching PSP XI, you get the default layout: Learning Center on left, Organizer (formerly known as the Browser) on the bottom. I like to work with a lot of desktop, so this eats it up pretty quick, but can be removed. The Learning Center is useful in that it provides a quick summary of a tool's purpose and features that is immediately available when the tool is selected. However, the organizer I don't find as worthwhile because it's just something else that can go wrong that has nothing to do with photo editing.

Film & Filters Dialog
Maybe it's because I'm a power user and can find my way around the computer easily, but I prefer to control how I process files and use Windows Explorer (or another tool like ThumbsPlus) to pick the files I'm editing. I don't need a lot of images and active/dynamic tools using up memory that my graphics program should be using. And if something locks within that component, I stand to lose a lot of work in editing.

I don't feel [The Organizer] adds much value...
Personal preferences aside, The Organizer allows you to browse photos on your system in directories you specify. I was relieved that it didn't try to latch onto my system and start cataloging every JPG or TIF on my machine, so that was a big plus. It allows you to view photos in a thumbnail format, apply tags (keywords) to the pictures and then view photos that meet those keywords.

This is nice but the initial work of adding these tags still has to be done. Fortunately, you can grab a selection of photos of Uncle Joe (CTRL- and SHIFT-clicking) and apply "Uncle Joe" to the photo tags, then grab the ones with Aunt Bee and tag them as well -- then you can find all their photos when you want them. It also allows you to edit things such as IPTC and EXIF data, something normally available in other tools.

All that said, I still think this functionality is better served as a separate application with its own memory space. While I see some benefits to the organizer overall, I don't feel it adds much value to what people are looking for in an photoediting/paint package.

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