Serif PhotoPlus X3 Review

4.5
October 6, 2009 | Jon Canfield | Software Reviews |

New Features

Although the user interface will look familiar to anyone that has used the previous version of PhotoPlus, closer examination will reveal some improvements to the layouts, and more intuitive buttons and controls. The how-to guides have been expanded upon, and the previously mentioned tutorials go a long way towards making this an easy program to learn.

PhotoPlus X3 adds some new functionality as well. The Raw Studio component (Figure 3) is an example of this. Where the previous version of PhotoPlus would allow you to work with RAW images, it only did so by converting the image behind the scenes - there were no editing options prior to conversion.

Serif PhotoPlus X3 Figure 3

By Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) standards, the converter is very basic with white balance, exposure, noise reduction and chromatic aberration adjustments as the primary tools. Comparing the output of Raw Studio with ACR shows that Raw Studio has a way to go before it competes as a solid conversion choice. In particular, Raw Studio has difficulty working with bright highlights, often clipping details far before other converters (Figure 4). Performance here is also not up to standards. A refresh after any adjustment took about 3 seconds on my machine, compared to the instant feedback in ACR. In a converter for the target audience, I would expect to see an Auto adjustment option similar to that in ACR.

Serif PhotoPlus X3 Figure 4

Also new to this release is Print Studio (Figure 5). PhotoPlus has combined the standard printing dialog with a layout tool that is easy to use and very functional. A number of presets are included for contact sheets, print packages, and single images, and in a nice touch, you can add or delete images from within this dialog rather than returning to the application window. I also like the ability to crop from within this dialog, making it easy to adjust your image for the specific layout if needed.

Serif PhotoPlus X3 Figure 5

Along with these new components, PhotoPlus includes support for HDR imaging with a Merge feature (Figure 6). I have to give props to Serif on this tool. The results with HDR Merge far exceed what Photoshop is capable of doing on it's own. Yes, you can get the grunge look more readily with something like Photomatix, but if you're looking for a realistic HDR conversion, PhotoPlus does a very good job (Figure 7).

Serif PhotoPlus X3 Figure 6

Serif PhotoPlus X3 Figure 7

Quickfix Studio (Figure 8) has undergone some changes for the better as well. Performance on adjustments made in this mode is improved over PhotoPlus X2, and the layout of the QuickFix Studio makes it easier to find the adjustments you're looking for.

Serif PhotoPlus X3 Figure 8

In the example above, I used the channel mixer directly to make this into a black and white image. You can also access the Black and White Studio via the How-To menu for some help in making this conversion, including presets for some common types of images.

In the previous release, I was high on the Instant Artist module (Figure 9). That hasn't changed with X3. Like the QuickFix Studio, performance is improved, with the application of effects taking about 1/3 less time than previously.

Serif PhotoPlus X3 Figure 9

For anyone that's been frustrated by extracting elements from an image, the Extract option will be a welcome tool. It's one of the more simple tools I've used, and the default settings are very good. By painting a line around your selection (Figure 10), and then filling it with the foreground color, you can quickly remove unwanted areas. As you can see in the after version (Figure 11), the tool does a good job around Kathy's hair. For clean-up, there are Edge Cleaner and Touchup brushes available.

Serif PhotoPlus X3 Figure 10

Serif PhotoPlus X3 Figure 11

PhotoPlus X3 includes a Filter Gallery with about 50 different filters to select from, including many of the same effects you'll find in Photoshop like textures, blurs, patterns, and lighting.

PhotoPlus also adds support for the new HD Photo format from Microsoft. HP Photo gives you better quality and smaller file sizes than standard JPG, as well as support for 16-bit files and transparency.

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software, photoshop, image editing, serif, alternative, Serif PhotoPlus X3 Review, digital studio, x3, photo plus

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Your Comments

6 Comments | Newest Oldest First | Post a Comment

#1 handy akku

Hi,
  I like the previous version for its good features.I think as concerning this review that this one is also be great application.

10:08 am - Wednesday, October 7, 2009

#2 Chris

It would have been nice to have known that this was Windows-only somewhere in the first page.

4:16 pm - Wednesday, October 7, 2009

#3 Chris

Thanks for this reviewer. I have this software and can appreciate a lot of the comments first hand. Whilst not a pro photographer, I can easily see that Photoplus give you way more functionality than Elements and nearly that of the main product.
One that could be missed by the reviewer is that under the File menu is ‘Colour Management’. It is there that you seleect to use Colour managed printing profiles set up (papger types and ICC profiles etc etc) as well as the Screen profile.

I have several profiles for Fotospeed and Ilford papers and I just wondered if this is what the reviewer meant in the conclusion.

2:36 pm - Friday, May 7, 2010

#4 Colin Harris

I have Serif PhotoPlusX3 but cannot determine how the size of the clone tool can be changed. When clicking on the ‘clone tool icon’ a circle appears which is much too big for intricate areas that need to be cloned.

Can anyone out there help me please ?

Colin Harris

1:19 am - Saturday, January 22, 2011

#5 Chris Wynne

Hi Colin,

The selection tool works like many others in this package and uses the size given on the context toolbar - the brush size is what you look for. Click in the box and either type a new pixel size value or drag the slider left or right to suit the circle size for the pickup point you want.
On X3 you can also do this with the mouse scroll wheel which I found great but X4 does not do that (why??). Alternatively I think you will be able to use up and down arrows on the keyboard as I can with X4.

Hope it helps!!

Chris

2:00 pm - Saturday, January 22, 2011

#6 sameer

no thing

9:04 pm - Monday, February 7, 2011