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Serif PhotoPlus X4

October 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Products

  • Edit photos easily with intuitive tools and get help from video and written tutorials
  • Professional tools and features enable you to edit RAW files, create HDR images and more
  • Repair old and damaged photos with an expert range of restoration tools
  • Be creative with your photos with hundreds of filters and effects or instantly turn your images into works of art
  • Organize your digital photos into albums with tags and ratings to help you find the photos you want ? fast

Product Description
With PhotoPlus X4, anyone can turn good photos into great pictures. Advanced tasks like editing RAW files and HDR imaging are made straightforward, while common fixes like red-eye removal, resizing, and removing flaws from portraits are always at your fingertips. Fix old and damaged photos using powerful restoration tools or get creative with filters, effects, and brushes. PhotoPlus X4’s impressive compatibility allows you to open, edit and export Adobe Photoshop… More >>


Serif PhotoPlus X4

Comments

5 Responses to “Serif PhotoPlus X4”
  1. A.M.Boughey says:

    I read somewhere that this was labelled a “Poor Mans” Photoshop, which is a little unfair, considering what one can actually do with this program.

    That said, you had better know what you are doing, or have at least some experience with advanced photo editing.

    The box reads – ” Digital Photo Editing editing made easy” but if you are only using a simple program like Picasa, or a bundled camera software to crop, brighten and sharpen, this may be over your head.

    There are way too many features to write about in one review, most are covered in the Amazon description above, and I would rather talk about how easy, or difficult the software is to actually just load up and use.

    For my limited needs, once you get used to it, it’s relatively straightforward, and very nice to see large on screen editing before saving copies or printing.

    As I already said, there is also a lot of stuff for semi, and even pro editors.

    Considering it’s about 1/10th the price of the current Adobe, if you want a place to start, this is probably one of the better budget programs out there.
    Rating: 4 / 5

  2. You’ll find a lot of functionality in PhotoPlus, but its price point puts it among serious competition. It certainly merits consideration.

    PhotoPlus opens instantly, which gives it an edge over Photoshop CS5 when I need to do something quickly. For a first test, I went right into an HDR merge. Sure, that’s not a mainstream task, but I hope my review will add to what others have written.

    Big problem here: the program does not recognize the .NEF files from my Nikon D700 … or D300, or Fuji S2 Pro, or Canon G10. What gives? I see what’s happening; PhotoPlus can open these raw files but does not show thumbnails in the file browser. Perhaps it uses the Windows file browser and cannot see the embedded jpeg thumbnails in the files.

    Plan B, I’ll open a NEF and see how I like the raw file converter. Options are pretty basic, but unlike Picasa (when I last checked) I can set white balance, explosure, black point, highlight (clip, recovery, neutral), noise reduction (one slider, no option for luminance and chroma) chromatic aberration reduction, bit depth and color space.

    The raw converter offers various before/after views and zooming to examine areas in greater detail. Since changes like exposure and highlights take time, but zooming is instant, we know the program is really processing the image in real time, not just the preview. I’ll open the image and see if this is true. Indeed, it opens in a flash. I’d rather wait at the end of the process than each time I tweak a setting. What happens when I select two NEF files to open? Each is opened in the raw converter sequentially. Here Photoshop has a big advantage as does DXO Optics Pro, my other favorite raw file converter. These allow you to refine settings for each image in a batch, then go away while they process the settings.

    Let’s take a look around the desktop. PhotoPlus has a tools palette on the left, then a “How To” menu, the image pane, an open documents browser below that. on the right from top to bottom are three sets of stuff. On top you’ll find tabs for histogram (color channels and luminance) navigator and color mode and adjustments (no LAB). In the middle are three tabs a good selection of the expected adjustment tools, brush tips, and history. Below that are tabs for layers, channels and macros. All of this is very familiar to the Photoshop user.

    Across the top of the frame, in addition to the standard menus, you’ll find the layer mode and opacity settings (odd location), brush size and flow settings, as well as Pressure Studio (for tablet users), PhotoFix, Cutout Studio and Filter Gallery.

    All of this illustrates that PhotoPlus X4 is quite a complete package and is easy to comprehend if you have used similar programs.

    Now for some fun, I look at Filter Gallery. The split view is a handy way to see the before and after of these effects. But a number of them have the international “do not enter” symbol indicating that I can’t use them. Better go back and convert this 16-bit image to 8-bits. If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry. Once again I see that the program works directly with the full image, so I have to be patient as I try different settings. Too bad as this really slows me down.

    Let’s examine the tools palette. I think I see a few missing from PS CS5. Tools include Deform, Selection Deform, Crop, Straighten, selection tools like rectangle, ellipse, magnetic lasso, polygon selection, magic wand, and wait; here’s a selection brush. Think I’ll give it a try.

    I adjust my brush size then paint on a selection of areas I want to adjust. The Modify Selection box allows me to feather, smooth, expand or contract my selection, as well as choosing what kind of view of my selection I prefer: overlay, marquee, etc. Once again, I have to wait for the full image to be processed; the preview does not change while I adjust the selection.

    Now looking at the right side, I choose Curves and voila, I have a Curves adjustment layer masked to my selection. In this case I can apply a curve to one of the three color channels or all. Missing are any presets to shortcut this process. But my adjustment layer shows up in the Layers palette, and I can turn if on or off or discard.

    One tip, PhotoFix is a treasure trove of refinements, many of which don’t appear elsewhere. One example is conversion to black and white. Although no match for more sophisticated programs with specific film looks, PhotoFix provides some nice presets and more control. It also seems to operate very quickly.

    Something I don’t appreciate is how previews work … or don’t. Let’s take sharpening for example. In the main program I can go to Effects, Sharpen, Unsharp mask. There is no preview toggle to see before and after. Trying Plan B, I go into Photofix and turn on Unsharp Mask. I can use the split view to see the before and after, but I’m in trouble if I want to see it after I did a sepia black and white conversion. The split view shows the original on the left and with all active “photo fixes” on the right. There seems to be no way to see the sepia image before and after sharpening.

    On the flip side, anything I do in PhotoFix shows up like an effect; it’s a sub-layer below the one to which I applied it and I can click the eyeball to view or hide it. But all PhotoFix tweaks are lumped together so I have to back into that plug-in to turn individual fixes on or off.

    I hope this has provided a little different perspective on PhotoPlus X4. I’ve tried to describe dimensions you might not have heard from other reviewers. There are more features but this tour should have given you a general sense of the product.

    So what’s my verdict? I think this could be a handy program for quick fixes and an alternative to full Photoshop for those who want a similar interface at much lower cost. Photoshop Elements is serious competition to consider, and by all means try the free Picasa. I consider Serif PagePlus Essentials a price-busting alternative to InDesign or Quark, but PhotoPlus does not speak to me quite so clearly. If the price were lower, I’d give an unqualified recommendation since it really does offer a lot. For now let’s just say, put it on your short list.
    Rating: 4 / 5

  3. Altmed says:

    Serif’s Photo Plus X4 comes with Panorama Plus X4, a program to paste pictures together to make a panorama, even a 360 degree panorama.

    Photo Plus X4 has many of the features used in Photoshop to crop, edit, alter, improve, etc. with some features easier to get to than in Photoshop. It also seems to lack the higher-level Photoshop features, and instead you can buy other programs to add on for projects like Scrapbooking, VERY basic web site building, etc. See their Forum to see all the programs, which I believe all work together? I know most of these do. The organization feature is wonderful! You can set up on the left of the screen different categories, then drag & drop them into either their categories, or make up your own, such as “Camping Trip 2009″, medical pictures for your doctor, nature photography, etc. with sub-groups you can name too… e.g – under “Camping Trip 2009″ you can make sub-folders such as “Tubing on the River”, “Crystal Cave”, “Sequoias”, “Fish Farm”, Around the campfire” and so on WHILE you are looking at thumbnails! This is an awesome feature!!! You can also hold control & click on pictures you need to turn while looking at their thumbnails & thinking about categories, etc. You can do this in Windows, but it is FAR easier in this program, by far! You can email pictures directly from the program, input from Twain devices, such as a web cam, scanner or other device.

    You can download free sample programs that work with this program, such as Page Plus (like for making newsletters), Web Plus (VERY basic web page maker w/ shopping cart for using PayPal for merchant sites), Draw (for designing logos, web page buttons, etc. – much like MS Paint that is part of Windows 7, yet perhaps a little easier to use, and my favorite, Scrapbook Plus for making scrapbook pages (Awesome!) And all these programs work with each other, which is great, but I have to wonder why these were NOT put into a photo suite and included with this program, and make these optional to load from the same CD?

    It is irritating to have to go through registration & wait for an email for a key for demo versions, which is unnecessary & frustrating. Why not have a single login/code to add on these other programs?

    This is a great sub-pro, or everyday photo enthusiast program. Having the programs work together makes it VERY easy, even for kids or 1st-time photo editors who want to take a large step up from what Windows paint can do!

    I love the ideas of the programs doing all they do, although If I were going to buy this, I would want all of these programs in one package on one CD, maybe 2 if more content is added, instead of having to buy the programs separately. There are VERY limited free versions to try, but to get the full benefit, you’d have to buy ALL the programs. To see the list, go to Serif’s forum web site at [...] where you can also get help for anything you are trying to do from other users.

    I do get an error message when trying to preform some tasks, telling me something to the effect that only the main user (I’m assuming admin) can use certain features or settings. The problem is, I was using this on an admin account on my Windows 7 machine, and it may very well be a quirk with Windows7? I hope they get this straightened out, as it is frustrating.

    Also, to get to the Panorama program, you must register & await an email to get your code to get into that program. It seemed I saw somewhere that there was a special deal for those registering their software that says you are supposed to be able to get the full version of “Page Plus” the VERY basic web-builder program. I got the free version & a code for a full version (I think?), with no idea where to download it. I imagine on their site, but haven’t been able to find it. I did start a “ticket” to get help, but it is 4 days later & all I got was an automated program telling me that someone will get to me as soon as possible, so the tech support if you have a problem is well, pretty abysmal.

    As for the “Panorama” program (included),I had difficulty with the included Panorama Plus x4 program being able to recognize that the pictures I loaded were connected. The program doesn’t seem to have a way to over-ride this. You can use the photo program to do the same it seems, yet they layout is VERY nice – very much like a work board/graph paper style background to help you line up the pictures. Additionally, once the program can’t connect the pictures, the picture you loaded are gone & in order to try to get them back, you have to reload them into this part of the program.

    I also got a few error messages when first loading & when attempting some tasks, such as emailing, which may be because I don’t use Outlook or Outlook Express because the security problems, and STRONGLY recommend other mail clients, such as Mozilla’s Thunderbird,and others. They should make this program keeping in mind the differences between users & the program ideally would have support for ALL browsers & mail programs. I haven’t uploaded a web page from that plug-in, but suspect that it may not work with all browsers, which it should. It seems they are working on these things & if they get the bugs worked out, ALL these programs together should make a great suite.

    Overall, an easy-to-use program, good for beginners & especially organization of photos part! The rest is like a stripped-down version of Photoshop that has the most used basic with some intermediate/advanced features & some fun effects (such as coloration of the pictures (You can make them black & white, and several monochrome colors, or warp the picture similar to th old “Photo Goo”. You can also make a group of pictures color-matched, or all B&W for hanging in a group.

    A fun starter program, but be aware if you want the full range of features & the other programs in full versions, you’re going to be shelling out a LOT of money! Again, they need to make this a suite & perhaps sell just this photo program separately for those only wishing an easy way to correct their pictures, change them, combine pictures, etc. for those who just want a starter photo program.

    If you want a Pro program, stick to Photoshop. If just a beginner or want a simpler program to learn how to use a professional photo editor, this is great!

    Working with family photos, getting organized and easily, learning & using layers, adding text & other features have icons just like Photoshop AND it has a “Do this for me” feature & tutorials online to make this easy OR to get ready to use a professional program down the road. Great for kids to!
    Rating: 4 / 5

  4. Jaronimo says:

    My review is not an “expert photo editors” review. I need to do simple things like touching up photos, cropping, adjusting color, and cutting out people or images and inserting them in other pictures to make invitations or funny pictures. If you need an experts review, look at some of the others, they seem to know a whole lot more about this topic than I do. But I am learning!

    That being said, I find this program pretty easy to use. I have been using it for two weeks and so far, so good. When I want to try something new, I view the video presentation on the topic and read the online instructions, then I go in and practice with that technique. I have not even come close to using all the features, but I will add updates to this review as I learn more.

    In my opinion this product is a great alternative to the more expensive Photoshop. It does many of the same things, but at a much lower cost.
    Rating: 5 / 5

  5. Dirt you ask? Well right now I teach digital photography to high school students. My school is a very poor school and a middle of the road academic school. This means my students want answers now and they are in a hurry to do everything. They can “break dirt.” I have Photo Shop and Macs so you would think I don’t need this program,technically you would be right but in reallity oh yes I do! This program does the basic things of Photo Shop quickly and easily for my slower students. They can do the basic reguirements for my class with little instruction using this program. It works so well for them that my advance students are fighting to use this.

    The bottom line is this: This program loads quickly. The instructions for layering are easy to understand and gets you into the job quickly. This program does the basic things and if you are a part time photographer or hobby one this is all you would need. Advanced students or photograhers who need programs like white baolance, would want Photo Shop.

    There is another thing, this for those people who have PCs. Photo Shop is a Mac porgram or the program I have is. Most of my students have PC computers at home so they are comfortable with PCs and this program.

    Kids want things now and they don’t want to wait, so this program gives them all that they want when they want it. For me as a teacher, it works.

    If you want to “totally” control the making of a photo and “get off” having every bell and whistle at your command, then this isn’t for you.

    My only problem now is I need more PCs in my room.
    Rating: 4 / 5

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