Serif Photo Plus X4 review
A nice package with some beautiful filters and creative effects but the album organiser could do with a revamp.
Review Date: 6 Mar 2012
Reviewed By: Jay Stansfield
Price when reviewed: £37 (£44 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
Ease of Use
Serif Photo Plus X4 has plenty going for it; it’s packed with impressive filters and effects and can be quickly and easily deployed over a network – something harassed ICT coordinators will appreciate. However, it’s not always the most easy-to-use application, and some areas do need work.
It’s not that Serif hasn’t tried to make the program accessible. From the splash screen you are able to jump in to some well presented video tutorials which are useful, easy to follow and lead nicely into the program. Photo Plus also packs in some powerful features, with quick fixes for red eye and spot repair, simple colour and tone adjustments and a great selection of features to repair old photos and quickly retouch portraits. However, the interface is a bit complicated for children, and although the icons are colourful and easily identifiable, there are lots of small tabs and arrows to click, and younger pupils might find these hard to locate.
Older pupils, however, will find plenty to get stuck into. The first thing you notice when you open a new image is the great bank of filters and realistic artistic effects available. Applying the Van Gogh or Watercolour effect to an image creates an extremely realistic look – more so than in other packages on test. Each filter in the Filter Gallery is presented with a small thumbnail of your image with the filter applied, and this saves a lot of browsing time.
Instead of waiting to see what your photo would look like from the preview you can spend more time deciding which filter would be the best for the job. Some filters take a while to render, with large images taking an average of 30 seconds for the Artistic filters and the other basic effects taking around five. The warp tools are a highlight and being able to access them directly from the toolbar is a real bonus. Images can be warped in real time without applying filters first.
The Organiser feature is Photo Plus’s biggest letdown; it seems more of an add-on than an integrated part of the package, with all the images displayed in one big group and no clear indication of where they are stored on the computer or the network. Where Picasa or Photoshop Elements give you organisation and clarity, you’re faced with a confusing display of images. This doesn’t distract from the power of Photo Plus, but it’s better teamed up with Picasa than used as a one-stop photo-management and editing solution.
Author: Jay Stansfield
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