Serif PhotoPlus X5 Review
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There's loads to do in Serif Photoplus X5's filter gallery. It's designed to let you have some fun with your pictures. The picture you choose is loaded into the space on the left while the filters are set out on the right. The panel is divided into 2 sections with the filters on the top and fine tune adjustments can be made on the bottom. What filter you use will determine the sliders that appear on the bottom.
There are the usual features there such as blur, noise and distort but there are also more interesting options such as edge and artistic. The artistic option will change the make-up of your picture according to the type you choose be it Impressionist, Expressionist, Munchist, Old Master, Watercolour or Pencil. Interestingly, Van Gogh has his own filter which is most probably down to his unique style. We had initial problems loading the filters in because the system ran out of memory which was frustrating when the rendering got all the way to the end only to be met by an error code. However, we closed the picture down, reloaded it and it worked fine.
This overload of information could cause problems if you prefer to upload multiple files to work on. Just like the noise sliders, the art filter sliders are very basic. There are 2 on the Van Gogh option for Scale and Colour. It seems the scale slider adjusts the size of the paint strokes. We recommend starting at around 20 and playing around with it from there. This option seems to work best with subjects of solid colour such as postboxes or sunflowers.
The colour slider does make an adjustment but it's very slight unless you go from one end of the slider to the other. The lower end of the scale gives an effect more akin to the impressionist movement while the top end gives definite differences in colour through the strokes which gives a much stronger display of strokes, akin to Van Gogh's later works such as The Starry Night.
Serif Photoplus X5's art filters need a lot of processing power. Even after we shut down our other programs and only had X5 running, it took a long time just to preview the filter. It also has to load each amendment you make so just trying a filter on a picture can take around 5 minutes. The computer we tested this on has 2Gb of RAM. Interestingly, we found that if you don't wait for the changes to be made and simply click OK, it doesn't add them but still shows in the history bar as having the filter applied.
On the surface, Serif PhotoPlus X5 appears to be a very easy to use program and there are some elements that have been simplified in order to not confuse the layman. However, Serif have cleverly hidden the fine tuning away in the Photo Fix window so if you do need it, it's there.
We can see how people who just want to play around with their pictures would be happy with the basic level of access though. So is this a program designed for the beginner? One would think so but the addition of the Photo Fix window and RAW file conversion suggests otherwise. That's something that serious photographers tend to get into, but it can also be there for potential photography enthusiasts to grow into.
There are some issues that need addressing. One way we test the intuitiveness of any equipment is by seeing how easy it is to use without the need for instructions or help functions. We had to contact Technical Help to deal with one problem because the online help didn't have the explanation.
The overall performance of Serif Photoplus X5 is very good. Loading a picture in using a drag and drop is ultra fast and changes made in the Photo Fix window were instant. We enjoyed using the art filters although the digital effects do take a lot of processing power. We can see that they'd look good printed onto some canvas, though we'd like it that once it's loaded in the filter, the amendments would be instantaneous. That way, we'd be less bothered waiting a while for the final processing. It would mean loading in the picture in low resolution which isn't a problem for other programs. The Watercolour example took around 5 minutes to load as a preview and a further 7 minutes to load it onto the final image after accepting it.
For around £70 Serif Photoplus X5 is certainly not a bad program, but bear in mind you can get Corel Paint Shop Pro for less than this and that's a full editing suite. While Serif Photoplus X5 does a lot, it seems to be marketed more as a tagging/import/editing suite.
|Ratings (out of 5)|
|Value for money||4|