Corel, Adobe update image editing suites

Two of the leading boxed mid-market graphics editing applications were updated this week, giving resellers hope that they will be picked up by back-to-school shoppers.

Corel Corp.’s Paint Shop Pro Photo XI – “Photo” has been added to the name so buyers won’t think its only a paint program – has added an image organizer plus tools to make it easier to change the colours in pictures, among other improvements.

Adobe Systems’ Photoshop Elements 5.0 has finally added colour curves adjusting – which has long been in the full version of Photoshop – as well as a new black-and-white conversion tool and a new ability to correct for camera lens distortion. Elements has also added online image sharing capabilities, which pits it against similar offerings from Kodak, Google and other Internet startups.

According to personal computer industry analyst Rob Enderly, while the two products aren’t too far away in price – roughly in the $100 to $150 range – they are targeted at different markets.

Elements is aimed at serious amateurs while Paint Shop Pro, which has many of the features of Photoshop CS2, is targeted at what the industry calls pro-sumers. However, both Adobe products have much larger sales.

PSP does have a “loyal group of professionals that continue to use it,” the San Jose, Calif.-based Enderly noted, “and Corel targets that group reasonably well.” But PSP “often lives under the shadow of Adobe.”

As for the upgrade announced by Corel, he said it “appeared to be a linear improvement. Nothing jumped out at me as earth-shattering.”

He’s more interested in Corel’s purchase last month of video editing software manufacturer Intervideo. In addition to picking up a competitor (Intervideo also owns Ulead, an image editing suite close to Elements), Corel will obtain what Enderle says is a strong DVD playback engine.

Now Corel has a set of image editing products that run from still photos to video at the semi-professional to amateur level.

“They now have this infrastructure and they should be able to productize them into something that’s pretty unique.

“Depending on how that all comes together, I think the company is going in the right direction . . . but a lot of these parts haven’t been merged yet.

“They (Corel) are kind of doing what Cisco and Symantec did, picking up a series of things and making them work together. We just haven’t seen the end game yet.”

New tools for Paint Shop Pro Photo XI include:

–Color Changer, which lets users change color of an object within an area of a photo with a few clicks. Corel says it detects an analyzes variations in image brightness and applies the new colour realistically;

–Time Machine, which ages an image so it looks like it was shot and printed in a different era;

–Depth of Field Effect, for easily blurring the background of an image so the foreground stands out;

–Photo Organizer, a way to organize photos that also allowing searching by file name, date, file type and metadata.

There’s an introductory promotion price of $99.99, which includes a $20 rebate on sales done through retailers.

New tools for Elements 5.0 include:

–the ability to animate slide shows with a choice of Flash-powered animations. For example, slides can be put in a “book” with turning pages;

–Map View, which lets the user link photos on their PCs to online sites tied to satellite images. The resulting map can also be uploaded to the Internet for sharing;

–Showcase, an online Adobe Web site and service that allows photos to be shared for free and order print copies.

Elements 5.0 will be sold alone for US$99.99, or bundled with Adobe Premier Elements 3.0, a video editing suite, for $149.99.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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