Photography News issue 28

Photography News Issue 28 absolutephoto.com

Software test 52

Software round-up If you think the world of camera and lenses is fast-moving, just consider the software market where new programs and updates are very common. In this round-up we take a look at the latest arrivals and assess how they can take your image-making to new, higher levels Corel AfterShot Pro 2.3 £58.99 Specs

Prices £58.99 currently, normally £69.99. 30 day money back guarantee. Trial version available Compatibility JPEGs, TIFFs, Raw formats including ARW, Windows: Windows 10, 8.1, 8 and 7; Intel Pentium 4 or later, AMD Athlon 64 or later; 2GB RAM; 400MB of hard disk space; 1024x768 screen resolution Mac: Mac OSX 10.7.3 or later (32-and 64-bit); All Intel Macs supported; 2GB RAM; 250MB of hard disk space; 1024x768 screen resolution Linux: Ubuntu 12.04 or later, Fedora 16 or later; Intel Pentium 4 or later, AMD Athlon 64 or later: 2GB RAM; 250MB of hard disk space; 1024x768 screen resolution Contact corel.com Above far left Interface design is clean, with the central area reserved for images and the two sides for tool palettes. The main tool palette is to the right, although both can be floating rather than docked. In this image you see the magnifier in action. It’s an excellent tool and makes checking sharpness fast and simple as it works with the thumbnail view. Above near left AfterShot Pro 2.3 offers a full range of editing tools including layers and a versatile cloning/healing feature. In the tools palette interface, your favourite features from individual palettes can be pinned so they are on constant show and placed at the top of the palette. CR2, DNG, NEF, ORF, PEF Systemrequirements

Corel Aftershot Pro is a workflow software that offers a range of cataloguing, editing and output features, and which rivals the market leader in that area, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, at a competitive price. It’s available for Windows and Mac and costs £58.99. This is for an outright purchase, ie. it’s subscription-free, an important consideration as subscriptions-based software is becoming more common. Corel made a point of this when it launched this version of AfterShot and also said it would be the ideal workflow partner for Photoshop CS6 users who are no longer eligible for Raw updates from Adobe. That does make sense, and in AfterShot, you can link Photoshop as an external editor for one-click access. Raw formats, JPEGs and TIFFs are compatible with AfterShot 2 and processing is non-destructive so original files are left untouched and you can make virtual copies. The interface is clean with three viewing options of the active catalogue: thumbnails, a film strip running vertically or horizontally with the selected image shown large or just one large image. Toggling between the three options is possible with function keys. To the left and right are tool palettes. The left side has tabs for the library, output and file system and to the right are the editing functions. Both tool palettes can be locked to the interface or left floating, which is a good way of working in a two screen set-up. In both palettes, favoured functions can be ‘pinned’ for quick access to them. It is a neat feature. So, for example, under the Detail tab is Sharpening and if you want that item showing all the time, click on the pin icon and it then becomes part of the Pinned menu which sits top of the list. If you prefer to work from the six individual menus, the order can be rearranged to suit your needs. The Standard

menu includes Histogram and Basic Adjustments so I had this at the top followed by Detail and Color. There is plenty of control in the editing menus and in a selection of the menus are items by Perfectly Clear which offer single click enhancements. It took a short while to remember that while the tools and sliders appear greyed out they are active. In the Detail menu there is Perfectly Clear Noise Removal. For applying noise removal you can see a previewandyouget that shortly after adjusting the slider or selecting the tool. There is a one-click button for viewing the image at 100 percent and next to that is a fit-to-screen icon. A slider is available for up to 800% magnification should you want to get into that level of detail. One very useful tool in the top toolbar is the magnifier that lets you check images at high magnification very quickly. It works in thumbnail view so it does mean you can speedily check image sharpness and flag or rate shots without having to enlarge each individual image. The strength of the magnifier can be varied so you can very critically check quality. The only slightly annoying thing with the tool is that if you want to change an adjustment parameter, the magnifier follows the cursor as you go to the tool palette rather than stay in position. This means you have to find the same spot after any changes and rely on memory to compare the before and after effects. Nevertheless, a very useful feature that I used a lot. Another a great feature is the option of layers for image adjustment and cloning/ healing. The great thing, for cloning/healing, for example, is that you can do much more than transcribe a circle which is what you are limited to in Lightroom. The Polygon and Curve tools let you draw around the

area you want to work on so you can be quite precise. You can add 10 adjust layers and one Heal/Clone layer and access each one individually with the drop-down menu. It means you can do quite complex editing or cloning/healing within AfterShot. Corel claims AfterShot is faster than Lightroom and that does seem to be true, even with larger catalogues comprising several thousand Raws – images refreshed quickly when scrolling through the images. Image export was quick too – 3.5 minutes to export 25 Sony A7R II Raws to uncompressed 16-bit TIFFs. On the downside, during processes like image export there is no indication that I could see to tell me something was happening until it happened – a process bar would be nice. Also, the cataloguing and printing sides of AfterShot were okay but nothing special, with limited keywording and print options. The software could be clunky with some processes slow. Finally, I also had more than my fair share of crashes and the need to force quit but that could have been for any number of reasons. In all cases, though, it was after I asked the software to do something. WC check images at high magnification very quickly One very useful tool in the top toolbar is the magnifier that lets you

Verdict

AfterShot 2 Pro is a capable software with lots of potential. I really liked the magnifier, even though I’d like it not to follow the cursor once off the image, and the versatile cloning/ healing tools are very useful. It is certainly quick too so no complaints there. If you are not committed to a workflow software or are disenchanted with Adobe’s subscription drive or Adobe in general, Corel AfterShot does offer a viable and low cost option so it is well worth a look.

Pros Price, magnifier, layers, clone/heal tool, Windows and Mac, good slide show option Cons Can be a little clunky, limited cataloging and print options

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