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Thread: More functionality than photoshop CS4 at a fraction of the price?

  1. #1

    Post More functionality than photoshop CS4 at a fraction of the price?

    "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!

  2. #2
    Community Leader Facebook Connected torstan's Avatar
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    Jul 2007


    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.

  3. #3


    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).

  4. #4
    Community Leader RobA's Avatar
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    Apr 2007
    Toronto, Canada


    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>

  5. #5


    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.

  6. #6


    I look forward to a review.

    Anything to escape the marketing droids....

    Dollhouse Syndrome = The temptation to turn a map into a picture, obscuring the goal of the image with the appeal of cute, or simply available, parts. Maps have clarity through simplification.

    --- Sigurd

  7. #7
    Secret Super-User StillCypher's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008


    But... Photoshop runs on a Mac!!!!
    “It is not down in any map; true places never are.” (Herman Melville)

    “A good map is both a useful tool and a magic carpet to far away places." (unknown)

  8. #8
    Guild Member armoredgear7's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Toronto, ON Canada


    Quote Originally Posted by ravells View Post
    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.

  9. #9
    Guild Journeyer Alecthar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009


    Even if that's true I'll still be interested. I'd have to sell someone else's child to afford CS4.
    "Unless I'm allowed to carry around a gun to shoot their giant killer-spiders, Australia needs to stay the hell away from me. Also Australians, who if they have lived this long are obviously agents of the spiders and not to be trusted."

  10. #10

    Post Impressed!

    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:


    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.

    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.
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