PhotoPlus X5 from Serif is a Windows only photo editing software at a low cost that offers tools usually found only in higher priced alternatives. With strong tutorials to guide new users and a nice array of tools and bonus goodies (filters, templates, etc), PhotoPlus X5 is a real contender for your photo editing needs.
What I Like About It
TutorialsSerif PhotoPlus X5 is an excellent option for new to editing beginners purely based on the tutorials within the program. A sidebar offers feature help and links rather than the user needing to hunt through help files or find the "right" search term to convince help to return a valid topic as with some other editing programs.
MasksWhile newer users probably won't delve into layer masks, I love seeing this ability as it allows the program to remain useful for more advanced users.
CraftArtistThis additional CD is a great addition for scrapbookers and other home publishing folks who want to make something out of their photos. Cards, photobooks, and scrapbooks are made much quicker and easier with the CraftArtist tools/templates.
Lots of Power for a Low PriceThere aren't many programs on the market for under $100 that deliver the features/power of Serif PhotoPlus X5.
Facebook/Flickr IntegrationAgain, while not a tool that pros might look for, the Facebook and Flickr integration is a great tool for those wanting to share photos with friends and family.
Handles RAWThis version of PhotoPlus has a robust RAW development side that is nice to see in a program at this price range.
Includes HDR BlendingHDR is one of the most popular photo techniques at the moment and PhotoPlus includes the capability to merge your shots into HDR, eliminating the need for extra software.
What I Don't Like About It
Navigation- I can't quite but my finger on what it is but there is an oddness to the navigation for me that makes the program slightly awkward. For new to editing users not used to other systems I think this would be negligible as you would learn this system from the ground up.
The Little ThingsPhotoPlus is continuing to make improvements but every so often you run across something small that is missing that affects your workflow in a big way. For example, this version just now added one click functioning for showing only the current layer.
Windows OnlyI admit it, software that only works on one platform is a pet peeve of mine. I prefer software that users can take with them if they swap platforms.
New Features in Serif PhotoPlus X5
Vibrancy AdjustmentDifferent from the standard hue/contrast/brightness you might be used to the vibrancy adjustment adds pop to your photos without turning skin and hair into cartoonish nightmares.
Clarity FilterA specialty filter to quickly sharpen and add contrast to your photos. Often, this is all that is needed for otherwise excellent out of the camera photos.
Blend ModesAnyone familiar with digital editing knows how much the way you blend layers can change the results. PhotoPlus has added more blend modes in the X5 version.
Brighten and ContrastSome under the hood tweaks have made brighten and contrast controls stronger and return more pleasing results.
Adjustments TabFaster, restore, and layer improvements make the adjustments tab are stronger tool in this version.
Faster BlendingNo one likes to wait on spinning wheels and dripping hourglasses. Blending is now faster.
User InterfaceLots of changes to the user interface with X5. Whether you like them or not is likely to wind up a matter of purely personal preference.
Clip to LayerFastening the adjustments tab to the layer makes organization much easier.
Show Only Current LayerA small adjustment that once you use it you are appreciative of it immediately.
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