Corel PaintShop Pro X4 Review

4.5
February 24, 2012 | Matt Grayson | Software Reviews |

Introduction

PaintShop Pro X4 is the latest edition of Corel's affordable photo-editing suite. With over 75 new and enhanced features designed explicitly to meet the needs of today’s photographers, is X4 the best version of PaintShop Pro yet? Matt Grayson finds out in our Corel PaintShop Pro X4 review.

Corel PaintShop Pro X4 is the fourteenth instalment of the venerable photo editing software. Popular with amateur photographers and anyone on a budget, PaintShop Pro has - in the past - always been a viable option against the much more expensive Adobe Photoshop. Corel PaintShop Pro X4 includes over 75 new and enhanced features, including a completely redesigned HDR engine, speed increases of over 50% on launch, enhancements to the user interface and convenient ways to share through social media. Corel PaintShop Pro X4 is available now in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Dutch and Polish for £59.99 including VAT for the full version and £44.99 including VAT for upgrade customers. Corel PaintShop Pro X4 Ultimate is available now in English, German, French, Italian and Dutch for £79.99 including VAT for the full version and £59.99 including VAT for the upgrade.

Disc One

We reviewed the more expensive Corel PaintShop Pro X4 Ultimate, which comes on two discs with the first disc holding X4 and the second Nik Color Efex Pro 3, royalty free images from Fotolia and a collection of picture tubes.

Tiffen Dfx 3 Registering Corel PaintShop Pro X4

After accepting the terms & conditions which must always be thoroughly read, we clicked the acceptance box and pressed next. A nice touch is that our name was already input into the Username box. The impossibly long serial number was typed in below before going through to the next stage. After choosing the file destination and language, installation will get under way. While Corel PaintShop Pro X4 is loading, it shows you a few different tools that are available. It looks pretty exciting so far!

Installation for us took just over 10 minutes. The program won't launch automatically so you have to do it yourself from the desktop icon.

After Corel PaintShop Pro X4 has launched, a welcome page will pop up over the main desktop that aids getting started if you're new to the program.  It takes you through three single instruction pages that illustrate what each section of the program do. It's laid out in a similar fashion to Adobe Lightroom and this echoes a lot of programs these days.

Manage

Tiffen Dfx 3 Manage

The three main pages are called Manage, Adjust and Edit. The first page (Manage) is for tagging and filing pictures you've loaded into Corel PaintShop Pro X4. A browser of your computer files is located on the left with EXIF data displayed on the right. You can tag the pictures chronologically using the calendar, with keyword tags or with star ratings. If you're completely new to this and maybe starting out in photography, this tagging trend may seem exhausting but will save hours of searching in the future. If you find that two years down the line you need pictures of a beach scene, you can simply type the keyword into the search field and it will find all pictures you tagged with that word. For our examples, we had 80 pictures to tag so we used the collections tab on the left of the window. Clicking on tags, we could add words that we wanted to use on the pictures. We then highlighted the pictures we wanted to apply those words to and dragged the thumbnails to the keyword list.

Once your pictures are tagged and filed properly, you might want to edit them. Obviously, ours were perfect (!) but we made some adjustments for the purposes of this review.

Adjust

Tiffen Dfx 3 Adjust

The Adjust tab is designed for speedy editing. It contains a lot of the most used tools that you'll see on a normal editing suite worktop. The picture you want to edit is loaded into a large screen on the right while the tools are lined up down the left. A histogram sits in the top left corner with individual RGB readings. Below this are five tools; crop, straighten, red-eye, make-over and clone.

The most used tools are quite intelligently selected and include tone mapping, light, colour balance, high pass sharpen and noise removal. There's a suggest settings button on the Smart photo fix tool if you want the program to do the donkey work. It's basically Adobe's Auto button on the Adjustments boxes in the Creative Suites.

We first played with the make-up tools in Corel PaintShop Pro X4 and found them a little overbearing in places such as the teeth whitening. The tan tool is intelligent enough to only hit skin which is great. However, the same old problem of processing speed means PaintShop Pro falls foul again. Processing a close up shot of a person with the sun tan tool took ages and really slowed the computer down. Also when we tried the other tools on the left and decided to use the sliders for big changes (to get an idea of how capable they are), we found that we could only slide them so far before the program started making the changes and froze our actions. It's extremely frustrating because we hadn't finished so it shouldn't be making changes if it can't cope.

Edit

Tiffen Dfx 3 Edit

Moving into the Edit page will open up the Camera RAW lab if you're using RAW images. In this window, you can adjust white balance, reduce noise, recover highlights and change the brightness, saturation and shadow levels. Clicking the edit button will load the picture into the main program.

When you first open the Edit page there will be a learning centre tab on the right and the thumbnails of the folder you opened at the bottom. This makes the page look really crowded so you may want to close them down. There's still a ridiculous amount of tools available on the worktop. At first this looks messy but it 's probably down to the fact that the icons are larger than Photoshop or GIMP and we soon got used to it. There's also more on show such as direct print and scan buttons.

Many familiar tools are present and a couple are not so familiar. The Edit page certainly works faster than the Adjustments page and it's a possibility that this is why it's been separated. The tools work well enough although they have their own way of doing things. For example, setting the clone tool base point is done by pressing shift instead of alt and it doesn't show you a preview the same way that Photoshop CS4 and newer does.

Entry Tags

photo, software, photoshop, editor, program, Corel, Corel PaintShop Pro X4 Review, PaintShop Pro X4, PaintShop X4 Review, Corel PaintShop Pro X4

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Your Comments

14 Comments | Newest Oldest First | Post a Comment

#1 Anom

Hi Matt, great review 3 things.
1. Giving the serial code away - not a great thing!
2. Using bit torrent to download what I might assume is the program that you are reviewing!
3. Having Adobe Photoshop when you are reviewing a Corel product not great!

11:34 am - Friday, February 24, 2012

#2 Brian G

I was a bit puzzled when you said “setting the clone tool base point is done by pressing shift instead of alt”. On every version of PSP I’ve used (I currently am on X2) you set the clone tool base point by right clicking the mouse - a far simpler and more intuitive action than the cumbersome “mouse plus keyboard” commands that are needed with PhotoShop. One of the things I like about PSP is the much nicer UI compared to Adobe.
I’ve never experienced slow operation with any version of PSP, but judging by some forums, the results from users seem to vary.
Maybe you should update your OS to Windows 7 and see if that makes any difference.

12:43 pm - Friday, February 24, 2012

#3 matt

I picked up X4 last week after trying the demo. It hasn’t crashed yet on my Win7-64 system, unlike X3 which crashed nearly every session.

I especially like the ability to do multiple layers and cloning with 16-bit TIFFs, which PSE10 lacks. This was pretty much the reason I ditched PSE10 and got X4.

I haven’t used the photo manager at all, though. I do organization and big adjustments in Aftershot (aka Bibble 5.3), and the fine details in X4. The dual-monitor feature is useless if you’re not using the photo manager, since all it does is split the tabbed Manage/Adjust/Edit window in to a Manage window and a tabbed Adjust/Edit window. I’d rather have the image full-screen in one window, and the tools on the other.

1:59 pm - Friday, February 24, 2012

#4 ???

nice man i love your site and i will spend my time in this site

4:03 am - Sunday, February 26, 2012

#5 Jenny

Nice review. I have been using Paint shop pro from the times it was still a Jasc product (before Corel bought it) and I always liked it a lot. I still have the version 9 installed but I have seen the X3 at my friends computer and it seems improved a lot so I guess it will soon be time for me to upgrade. According to your review X4 seems the right choice, I’ll be looking into it.

9:53 pm - Sunday, February 26, 2012

#6 Martoons

I wish Photoshop was as good as this. OK then I guess it is it just has a huge learning curve. And it costs an arm and a leg. - Martin

3:49 pm - Friday, March 2, 2012

#7 mattgrayson

Hi Matt, great review 3 things.
1. Giving the serial code away - not a great thing!
2. Using bit torrent to download what I might assume is the program that you are reviewing!
3. Having Adobe Photoshop when you are reviewing a Corel product not great!

Hi Thanks for your comment.
I’ll cover them to the corresponding numbers:
1) It’s not the full code. I mention in the review it’s an impossibly long one which the one illustrated isn’t. :O)
2) I didn’t use a bit torrent, I was sent a hard copy.
3) I use Photoshop to capture the screengrabs because I find it quicker. It’s a bit like saying I’d have to use an Olympus camera to shoot the product pictures of an Olympus camera I’m reviewing. Or Pentax for Pentax etc.

I hope that helps. :O)

2:41 pm - Tuesday, March 6, 2012

#8 Moe

When I import a photo it first comes up with way too much contrast.
What am I doing wrong, and what do I need to do to have the image be normal ?
                    Moe,

8:43 pm - Sunday, August 12, 2012

#9 Brian G

Moe,
This thread is just for comments on the review, not a discussion forum.
You will be better off asking a question like that on a Corel user forum, like http://forum.corel.com/EN/index.php
I’m no expert, but it sounds like you have a mismatch in the color space you are using.

9:20 am - Monday, August 13, 2012

#10 sadath

i want

1:02 pm - Wednesday, August 22, 2012

#11 david wilson

Bought this and had to send it back for refund.It would not stop crashing.Even just opening the program was a challenge without it freezing.Had version x3 and it was fine.Not sure I will pay money to risk x5.Windows 7,i3,6gb ram.

11:06 pm - Tuesday, September 11, 2012

#12 Brian G

David,
The numbers of people (myself included) who run X2, X4 and now X5 without trouble suggests this is a problem with your system. Do you seriously believe a major software producer would market a program that couldn’t be run?
You don’t have to spend money trying X5, simply download the 30 day free trial from the Corel site. Mine works fine.

7:27 am - Wednesday, September 12, 2012

#13 Victor A. Barac

Do you support French Versions of Corel Photo Paint X-4 or X5 on CD Rom in French and what would it cost me. I would like to purchase this software for my elderly father in law who lives in Telgruc, France. Thanks in advance. VB.

6:25 pm - Sunday, April 7, 2013

#14 Doug Barrie

I am running windows 8.1 and have Corel paintshop pro X4 installed,  every time I try to use, I have to reinstall,  by removing and then reinstalling and ity will work until I close and next time have to go though the same thing over and over,,,,,,,

1:10 pm - Saturday, May 31, 2014