After downloading your photos, editing them has been made somewhat easier with the addition of the Express Lab, a new function that places Paint Shop Pro’s main photo editing tools into a quicker and simpler interface. The tools are just as powerful, but presented in a more accessible way, although it is of course still possible to edit photos in the standard full-option workspace instead. There are several new photo editing tools to choose from, and some existing ones have been improved. There is a new feature called “Thinnify” which is a one-click process to make people in your photos look slimmer, but to be honest it’s a bit of a gimmick, and not a terribly effective one either. It simply applies a distortion to the image, pinching in a vertical strip at the selected point while keeping the overall dimensions of the picture unchanged. Obviously this distortion affects objects in the background as well, which can lead to problems, and it also only works on standing figures. Use it on a seated figure and the subject’s legs become strangely shortened.
Fortunately other new features are a lot more useful, particularly the new Black & White Film effect, which allows you to add colour filters as you would when using monochrome film, to enhance the contrast and tone of colours within the scene, so you can make clouds stand out against a blue sky, for example. Previously this process would have involved a complicated series of layers and filters, so it is now much simpler. Other improvements include enhanced photo re-touching tools. The blemish removal tool has bee much improved, and now resembles Photoshop’s Spot Healing brush. The Suntan tool has also been improved, and now adds a healthier skin tone to your subjects, rather than turning them orange. It also works a lot better on non-Caucasian skin tones.
If you regularly post a lot of images on the internet, the new Visible Watermark feature may prove invaluable. I allows you to add a semi-transparent watermark image to your photos to protect them from unauthorised copying. You can use any image file as the watermark, so you can come up with your own copyright logo and attach it to your pictures.
Some users with very large picture collections reported that the Organiser file browser in Paint Shop Pro XI slowed down to the point where it was unusable, but I have found no such problems with X2. I have well over 30,000 photos on my hard drive, and the organiser didn’t slow down at all. In fact I would go as far as to say that it sorted through them marginally quicker than Adobe Bridge, the file browser for Photoshop. However I did find that when processing very large images, such as the 50MB TIFF files that I send to photo libraries, some editing operations did slow down drastically. Photoshop CS3 has no problems with files this size, and I have a very fast Dual-Core PC with 4GB of memory, so it’s not my computer.