PDA

View Full Version : More functionality than photoshop CS4 at a fraction of the price?



ravells
06-18-2009, 01:28 PM
"Serif Photoplus X3 has more functionality than Photoshop CS4."

This was the boast made to me by the telephone sales rep at Serif (I use their vector software, Drawplus, and desktop publishing software, pageplus and video editing suite, videoplus) I have their existing raster editing software, photoplus X2, but it's simply doesn't have anywhere near as much functionality as photoshop CS2, which is what I use for raster editing.

After I had finished laughing (I really did laugh), the sales rep said this was a usual reaction from their customers but their boast was not an idle one. So I asked questions...lots of questions and erm..there may be something in this after all. 300 filters (and the ability to use any filter or combination as layer styles too). I was now getting seriously interested.

It does HDR (if you're a photographer), has fluid mask built into it (fluid mask is probably one of the best pieces of extraction software on the market and a world ahead of PS's native extract filter). The functionality list went on and on. Perspective correction...they say it even supports NEF format files for the Nikon D90 (the RAW format used by Nikon cameras) which CS2 does not. It's an utter pain as I have to convert all my Nikon RAW files into Photoshop DNG files before I can edit them in photoshop.

It's reasonably cheap at £75, and a helluva lot cheaper than CS4 which retails at £360. If the user interface is anything like Serif's other products, the learning curve will be a doddle.

I'm getting the software on a 2 month trial money back guarantee and will put it through its paces from a mapping perspective and report back. I think it's too much to hope that it's actually altogether better than CS4, but if it's comparable then that's a pretty good result for the price.

The one thing I'm not sure it has is the same brush support that PS has (forgot to ask that question). If not then it'll fail on mapping right off the blocks, but I might still keep it for photoediting.

I haven't found any online reviews which are not just rehashes of what looks like Serif's own press release.

Watch this space!

torstan
06-18-2009, 01:56 PM
That's interesting. I'm learning CS4 and Illustrator right now and they're powerful but not intuitive (and I guess unlearning Gimp tricks doesn't help). If Photoplus is that good then I'd definitely be interested in taking a shot at it. I look forward to hearing the verdict.

ravells
06-18-2009, 02:11 PM
I hate illustrator with a passion. Couldn't get on with it at all, which is why I use drawplus. It may not be able to do quite as much as illustrator can, but it's a heck of a lot easier to to use (for me).

RobA
06-18-2009, 02:52 PM
Funny, looking at their site Photoplus seems focused on working with existing images, while Drawplus seems the tool for image/artwork creation... Too bad they aren't merged in one product.

-Rob A>

ravells
06-18-2009, 03:08 PM
Something I've ranted about often. The cross platform support for Serif's own products is near non-existant.

Pageplus doesn't support/can't import native drawplus files.

Compare this to adobe where you can import an .ai file into ps. and it keeps all your layers intact. I think that PS was originally meant to be used purely as a photo editing tool until artists discovered it and then it took off as an image creation too and adobe started to support that side of the product too.

Sigurd
06-18-2009, 06:54 PM
I look forward to a review.


Anything to escape the marketing droids....

StillCypher
06-18-2009, 08:14 PM
But... Photoshop runs on a Mac!!!!

armoredgear7
06-19-2009, 11:53 AM
I think that PS was originally meant to be used purely as a photo editing tool until artists discovered it and then it took off as an image creation too and adobe started to support that side of the product too.

This is certainly in keeping with my experience. I hardly do any photo editing anymore; Photoshop is my painting program.
Regardless of whether or not Serif PhotoplusX3 is actually the more functional software with a better interface, they'll have a lot of ground to cover to catch up with all the resources that are available for the Adobe Creative Suite.

It just seems to me that this product is the slightly-less-poor man's Photoshop.

Alecthar
06-19-2009, 03:28 PM
Even if that's true I'll still be interested. I'd have to sell someone else's child to afford CS4.

ravells
06-21-2009, 01:32 PM
It's arrived and I've been playing with it for an hour and I must say, I'm pretty impressed.

I'll skip the bits about photography and go to mapping:

Brushes:

Has pencil and brush options
The brush edit menu is much simpler than PS's (see image) but the level of options is easily good enough for mapping. You can make your own brushtips too.

Layers:
The bits which look and feel exactly like PS
Has layer masks, quick masks and making masks from vector selection.
has channels
has layer adjustments
has blending modes
Has an instant 'depth map' layer button which I think could be very useful for mapping - it's basically a bevel and emboss layerstyle - good for mountains. It's like having a 'render lighting effects' in the fly where the bump map is like a layer mask or vector mask.

Layerstyles are a bit different (see second image for menu) but it supports all the things I have in CS2 including pattern fills. It doesn't quite have the high end stuff that PS has, for example bevel/emboss options don't have chisel hard / chisel soft (although there is a softness slider) and can't make your own bevel curve map.

For the price though I think that for mapmaking and drawing and photography this beats the spots off Adobe Elements in terms of features. Compared to CS2 it has everything that CS2 has except for the 'top end' tweaks and sliders for brushes and layerstyles.

I think what I'll try to do is to make a map using it and see where that gets me but so far...I'm very, very impressed.

Edit: big downside - not many keyboard shortcuts supported.

ravells
06-21-2009, 02:34 PM
Practice map going really well. This thing has a look and feel so close to PS it's almost uncanny. This is great for me as I don't have to go through a whole new learning process so the learning curve is shallow.

The only thing I'm missing are the keyboard shortcuts so far.

Filters:

The filters that come with it mirror PS filters pretty much - there are a couple of different ones (e.g. page curl - which Paintshop Pro has) - may be useful if you want a map with a page curl I guess. Native filter list in the image below.

My version shipped with a third party filter set called 'Machine Wash (http://www.misterretro.com/image_filters.html)' which specialises in producing a 'distressed' look - perfect for old maps. Haven't been this excited about a new filter since the 'jiggle' filter in Eyecandy. It has 240 effects, each one adjustable.

So far this is getting 2 thumbs up from me all the way.

It's also got a screen capture feature which I missed from my paintshop pro days. It looks like these guys have put the best of PSP and PS together....I'm now even more impressed than I was a couple of hours ago. File menu drop down list attached along with what the general interface looks like.

I'll try to stay objective but I can feel 'fanboi-dom' coming on. Must....avoid...fanboi.

ravells
06-21-2009, 02:52 PM
OMG the sales pitch was right....and here is where in terms of non-destructive editing this thing excels: You can make 'filter layers' these are adjustment layers with filters applied where you can go back and edit the filters...I think I'm in love!

ravells
06-21-2009, 03:10 PM
Yikes....it has a picture brush tool (which PSP has and PS doesn't) and you can import PSP picture tubes with it too...

You can import .psd files into it. It's not bad. It remembers PS layer styles (in that it converts them but as part of the image and not an editable layer style) and will imoport all the layers separately but not the scaling of pattern fills though.

Ascension
06-21-2009, 03:24 PM
That filter layer looks pretty handy as well as the tube.

ravells
06-21-2009, 03:41 PM
Proof of the pudding though. I'm just making shortcuts to the Alienskin filters and then let's see what it can do.

Hmm works only for the native filters....but still pretty cool. I use noise a lot in my maps, and this way I can adjust the noise settings at any time.

ravells
06-21-2009, 06:04 PM
Yuck...it doesn't save EXIF data on a jpeg save...quickly falling out of love ... one or two other niggles as well.

Midgardsormr
06-22-2009, 10:37 AM
OMG the sales pitch was right....and here is where in terms of non-destructive editing this thing excels: You can make 'filter layers' these are adjustment layers with filters applied where you can go back and edit the filters...I think I'm in love!

Incidentally, Photoshop does have that feature now, too. A filter applied to a smart object becomes a "smart filter," which behaves much like a layer style. I'm not sure when that was introduced, as I skipped from version 7 to CS3.

ravells
06-22-2009, 10:54 AM
Ah that's interesting. I've got CS2 just tried applying a filter to a smart object and a message popped up saying if the filter was applied the smart object would lose its smart object status and turn into a normal raster layer.

One big downside for photoplus is that it doesn't have a decent cloud filter which is hugely important for mapping in a realistic style. It's got something called 'plasma' but it's quite pixelly and nowhere near as good as the PS cloud filter. So you'd have to get a third party cloud filter (like Xenoflex) which means more £££. Shame it was going so well!

Redrobes
06-22-2009, 04:35 PM
Make sure all this info gets back to them. A lot of the problem with developing an app is that people use apps differently to the person who is programming it. They might not be into maps the way we are and don't see much need to generate lots and lots of clouds.

ravells
06-22-2009, 04:45 PM
I've been feeding back the downsides on the photography parts, but I'll definitely tell them about the cloud filter. Thanks Redrobes!

torstan
06-22-2009, 05:22 PM
Thanks for all the reviewing. This is really good to know.

Vizier
06-25-2009, 09:17 PM
It can't beat Photoshop.

Syt
06-26-2009, 10:44 AM
It's reasonably cheap at £75, and a helluva lot cheaper than CS4 which retails at £360.

Slightly OT, but where does CS4 retail for 360 GBP? Is that the upgrade? Because the German version on Amazon sells for over 1100 EUR - that's not the extended version. Student edition comes at 190, but I'm not eligible. :(

ravells
06-26-2009, 01:04 PM
I just googled CS4 for the price. Link here. (http://www.bitesizedeals.co.uk/index.php?act=viewSearch&searchId=af4ea4f74840d3cc5d9edfcb3f7d1bd6&gclid=CJqDyKm1qJsCFZ4U4wodUHcoDA)

ravells
06-26-2009, 01:05 PM
It can't beat Photoshop.

It does on a price to functionality ratio :)

But on that ratio, Gimp beats everything!

Syt
06-26-2009, 01:13 PM
I just googled CS4 for the price. Link here. (http://www.bitesizedeals.co.uk/index.php?act=viewSearch&searchId=af4ea4f74840d3cc5d9edfcb3f7d1bd6&gclid=CJqDyKm1qJsCFZ4U4wodUHcoDA)

Thanks. :)

Vizier
06-26-2009, 02:32 PM
It does on retail price to functionality ratio :)


Fixed.

If I were going to use an inferior program because of $$$ issues it would be GIMP since its completely free.

töff
06-26-2009, 02:44 PM
But... Photoshop runs on a Mac!!!!But not on Linux ... %$#!@!$%&#$@ ...

armoredgear7
06-26-2009, 03:17 PM
This has been a great review, ravells!

I think it's really eerie how similar the whole interface looks to Photoshop.

dormouse
06-26-2009, 05:58 PM
It can't beat Photoshop.

Care to expand?

I have PS & PSE (etc etc), but have never tried X3. There are so many ways in which I can imagine another program might suiting me better than PS (not least Adobe's pricing & upgrade gouging, especially out of the US) that I'm always interested in alternatives.

dormouse
06-26-2009, 06:21 PM
It seems to me that the really big issue is the relationship between usability and features. Very easy to have lots of features and poor usability, very hard to have lots of features and good usability. PS has lots of features and so-so usability at best (for me, this is a personal thing to some extent - though most people who love PS and find working it easy have used it an awful lot for an awful long time). I'd happily sacrifice a number of features for better usability. In some ways I do now. I only use PS for those things where there's no good alternative.

ravells
06-26-2009, 08:04 PM
X3 has pretty much the same menu system as PS, but within those menus it doesn't have as many options....and that's the main difference. For me though, the options X3 lacks (apart from a few) arn't the ones I use anyway.

dormouse
06-26-2009, 09:04 PM
It does seem as if I ought to have a look at it. When I have time to test it out, that is. I do notice that quite a few reviews still comment on its being slow, even though it might be faster than X2.

Vizier
06-26-2009, 11:29 PM
Care to expand?

I have PS & PSE (etc etc), but have never tried X3. There are so many ways in which I can imagine another program might suiting me better than PS (not least Adobe's pricing & upgrade gouging, especially out of the US) that I'm always interested in alternatives.

Pricing issues aside PS does everything and very very stable. I can remember using PS 3.1 on a MAC in high school. Theres been a lot of development since then. Why would I use a lesser program?

ravells
06-26-2009, 11:32 PM
Because it costs a fortune? And you have to sell your children to buy it?

JoeyD473
06-26-2009, 11:41 PM
I'd rather have PS then children though, so it is a good trade off (Plus PS is probably cheaper then kids)

ravells
06-26-2009, 11:45 PM
lol! There is that!

Vizier
06-27-2009, 12:35 AM
Because it costs a fortune? And you have to sell your children to buy it?

But what about the pink elephant standing in the corner??

ravells
06-27-2009, 12:39 AM
It all depends on what you want and what you can afford. If you can afford PS then that's wonderful, but many people want something similar but not so pricy so they're looking for another option. What I've found about this bit of software is that it's nearly photoshop, (but not quite). It's got more functionality than gimp (layer styles which are incredibly useful in mapping) but fewer than PS.....so pay your money and take your choice.

Ascension
06-27-2009, 08:01 AM
Very helpful Ravs, that last post right there sums it all up quite succinctly. So on a scale it looks like this comes in just below Photoshop but above Paint Shop Pro? Pricier than Gimp (to be certain) but a good way for beginners to learn digital art and eventually move up to PS.

ravells
06-27-2009, 02:17 PM
Yes, I think it comes in (for mapping) just under CS2 (but actually has more functionality in one or two areas). Very much the same menu system but fewer buttons and sliders in the menus themselves. And absolutely, it's a great' photoshop 'lite' package, much better than elements and easy to move to photoshop once you've mastered it.