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Author Topic: PhotoFiltre - excellent raster graphics editing tool  (Read 27204 times)
Darwin
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« on: May 10, 2007, 02:25:08 PM »

App NamePhotoFiltre Studio
App URLPhotoFiltre Studio
App Version Reviewed8.1.1
Test System SpecsCentrino Notebook - 1.4Ghz, 1024MB RAM, 64MB  Shared video
Supported OSesWindows 98/NT4/ME/2000/XP/2003/Vista
Support MethodsUser forum and developer e-mail
Upgrade PolicyLifetime upgrades with purchase of license
Trial Version Available?30-day trial period, no limitations
Pricing SchemeA lifetime license for Studio costs €25
Relationship btwn. Reviewer and Product I have no relationship to the developer beyond that of end-user.

Please note that I've restricted my review to a discussion, and screenshots, of the shareware (Studio) version of this application. There is a fully featured free version available. The free version lacks support for layers and Photoshop plug-ins.
   


Intro:

About two years ago I embarked upon a quest to find an alternative to Photoshop 6 that was affordable and would allow me to do more than just edit photographs. This led me to PaintShop Pro 9 which I quite liked but felt started up slowly. When PSP X came out about four months later, I upgraded because the upgrade pricing was very reasonable and it was touted as being both much quicker to startup and less resource intensive than PSP 9 (and I was an idiot and opened my wallet without even downloading the trial first!). In practice, its startup was significantly slower and resource usage more intensive... I stayed away from PSP XI, having learned my lesson with the upgrade to X and having noted the howls of protest from PSP sages that I encountered everywhere on the internet. Despite this, I was thrilled when I won a full version in an online contest! However, although my initial installation incorporated the first patch, rather than improving upon X in the startup and resource utilizaiton departments, it is easily the worst of the three, taking over a minute and half to load! PSP 9, at 32 seconds to load, is positively QUICK in comparison. Thus I found myself on another mission - to come up with a powerful alternative that wouldn’t cripple my aging notebook. Zaine’s excellent The Great Software List site led me to PhotoFiltre. It loads very quickly (13 seconds), has a simple, uncluttered GUI and does everything that I need it to do and then some. The http://photofiltre.free.fr/ (currently 6.27) is more than capable of replacing PaintShop Pro in my workflow, but I very quickly found myself springing for a license for the Studio version because I really wanted to support development.
A caveat: despite owning licenses for a variety of powerful graphics packages (Paint Shop Pro, Xara Xtreme Pro, PhotoFiltre, DrawPlus 8, ArtRage) I am far from a graphics guru, in fact, my usage is minimal - I edit scans (both images and text prior to creation of pdfs) and digital photographs and I noodle around with Xara Xtreme when I need maps and illustrations for my PhD project.

Who is this app designed for:

Anyone who requires a powerful, efficient, and affordable alternative to the “bigger” apps in the raster graphics arena. Take a look at the version history and you’ll note that this is a mature application that is frequently updated. Further, the developer is very friendly and promptly responds to queries, suggestions, and bug reports.

The Good

Very quick startup and fully featured image editing. As far as I can tell, PhotoFiltre is fully capable of replacing PaintShop Pro on my system and is well on its way to doing just that. PhotoFiltre Studio features a context sensitive tool palette, making for an uncluttered desktop. The screenshot shows a few caps of the tool palette with various tools selected:




The Studio version can accept Photoshop plug-ins in addition to a wealth of free native plug-ins. I currently have a native plug-ins that takes on-screen measurements and one that corrects fisheye distortion  in addition to a number of Photoshop plug-ins loaded on my installation. They all work well. The first screenshot shows the onscreen measurement tool (note it even calculated angles) while the second shows PhotoFiltre's implementation of the magic wand tool:





Needs improvement

So far, my only major beef is with the rotate tool - it requires the user to enter degrees of rotation (see screenshot), which I find cumbersome. I have written to the author suggesting that this be changed to a system that requires the user either to draw a line along a referent on the image or to drag handles onto reference points on the image. I also suggested that a perspective correcting tool be added. I received a very prompt reply letting me know that these changes are planned for a future release of the Studio version, but not the free version.



A minor beef would be that I find the question mark in place of "Help" as the label for the help menu questionable  cheesy. It looks odd and isn’t intuitive.



However, it’s also an issue so far removed from the functionality of the programme that I hesitate to even mention it!

The other issue about the GUI is the placement of some tools. In order to get to the rotate tool shown above, one has to use the menu system. This screenshot shows the route required to get to the rotate tool:



This isn’t the end of the world, but it would be nice to have features such as this accessible from the main tools palette. I realise that this comes down to user preference. The strength of the implementation in PhotoFiltre is that one is not overwhelmed by tool buttons.

Why I think you should use this product

Considering the feature set, ease of use, ongoing development, lifetime licence and excellent support, this is a must have app for anyone wanting to manipulate digital photos without crippling their bank account. Further, the Studio version supports layers and Photoshop plug-ins which means that it is extendable. Finally, there are over 100 free plug-ins available from the author’s website.

How does it compare to similar apps

My experience is limited to Photoshop 6, PaintShop Pro 9-11, and daliances with both the Gimp and GimpShop (neither lasted very long and weren’t productive). PhotoFiltre is comparable to everything in terms of the basic editing tools available and is very expandable due to the plug-ins that it can accept. The Studio version takes this further because it supports layers and can accept plug-ins written for Photoshop.

Conclusions

I recommend that anyone needing to edit digital photographs and other raster graphics files check out PhotoFiltre. The path to achieving what you are after may not be as smooth as you might otherwise enjoy using one of the larger and more expensive applications but the price is right and the results the same. Further, using the developer’s forum you can help direct development of PhotoFiltre, so if you’d like something to be modified let the developer know and it may happen if others agree and it doesn’t require a major rewrite. Over time, you/we might just find the path tweaked to your/our liking. If you find PhotoFiltre useful, support development and upgrade to the Studio version. It’s a one time licence fee and helps to ensure that the app is developed further. Because the developmental focus is now on the Studio version, this also ensures that you have access to features that you’ve requested and which have been incorporated!

Another review of this application
Zaine reviews and highly recommends PhotoFiltre on his Great Software List:
http://www.anova.org/software/index04.htm#graphics

EDIT: sorted out the placement of the screenshots...
« Last Edit: May 21, 2007, 05:30:03 PM by Darwin » Logged

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mouser
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« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2007, 02:41:27 PM »

from the New Post form, there is a drop down menu for "Preset Text".  Select that and it will automatically insert Josh's excellent Minireview template, complete with table.  huh
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Darwin
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« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2007, 02:45:47 PM »

Yeah - I just found that  embarassed. EDIT: This is my first review and I got a little nervous redface
« Last Edit: May 10, 2007, 03:07:36 PM by Darwin » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2007, 03:06:38 PM »

great mini-review.

ps. people please remember to send a credit or two to the mini-reviewers along with a thank you comment when you do, to let them know you appreciate their efforts.  thumbs up
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Darwin
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« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2007, 03:08:02 PM »

Thanks mouser - most appreciated!
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« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2007, 05:12:29 PM »

Darwin, I use Paint.Net (since I am cheap and so very rarely do any graphics stuff since I suck at it), have you ever used that and if so how does that and this compare?  I am sure this is much much more comprehensive than the free Paint.Net program but I find that it does everything I need.  I am just curious.
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Darwin
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« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2007, 07:02:08 PM »

Hi Tekzel - I used Paint.net a couple of years ago and remember almost nothing about it. I'll have to take a look and let you know! In the interim, take a look at the free version of PhotoFiltre - you can't go wrong!
« Last Edit: May 10, 2007, 10:11:29 PM by Darwin » Logged

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Darwin
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« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2007, 09:13:28 PM »

Paint.net 3.x is a VERY nice app (when I last tried it, it was still at version 1.x). I love the interface. It's missing some of the tools that I'm looking for (as I highlighted in the review, I need to be able to "level" my pictures via the straighten or free rotate tool, for example). From looking at the plug-ins forum, there seem to be a number of nice add-ins that have been written for Paint.net. It woul be nice if this extended to support for Photoshop plug-ins. Looks very good - very polished and a very small download. Not quite as feature rich as far as I can see from a cursory look at it as PhotoFiltre (both the free version and Studio) but an excellent editor nonetheless.
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lanux128
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« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2007, 09:25:43 PM »

Tekzel, fyi the free version doesn't support layers unlike Paint.net, however i also use Photofiltre free because i don't have much use for layers.. smiley

btw Darwin, nice review.. thumbs up and also here is the link to the free version: http://photofiltre.free.fr/

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« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2007, 10:05:24 PM »

Thanks lanux - I'll edit the link above! I neglected to mention the lack of layers support in the free version of PhotoFiltre in my reply to tekzel - excellent point.
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lanux128
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« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2007, 03:12:31 AM »

no problem Darwin, glad to be of help.. smiley
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« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2007, 04:40:46 AM »

thanks for the great review Darwin  smiley

have it but havent really looked at it yet  embarassed
this should inspire me  thumbs up
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Tom
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« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2007, 04:27:03 PM »

Hi all,

Just an update, Antonio (the force behind PhotoFiltre) has just released version 9 with the following improvements (from the News sections of his site):

Quote
- Show EXIF base information for the format Raw (menu File > Image properties)
- Improvement of the filter Gradient (more directions)
- Improvement of the Copyright module (vertical center display)
- New deformation Ellipse
- All transformations (rotation, distort, ...) use a bicubic interpolation
- Improvement of the Deformation brush tool (more precise)
- Deformation tools have a real time preview
- The functions Offset, Replace color, Replace color range, Indexed colors,
  Stroke and fill and Custom filter have a direct preview option
- The Transparent color button is active for layers (contextuel)
- Supports DNG format
- Drawin tools can use true size cursors
- Improvement of the filter Emboss (dialog box)
- Improvement of the Clone stamp tool (clone from other image or layer)
- The texture module can load external texture files
- New Perspective correction module
- New Horizon correction module
- Improvement of the filter Radial blur
- Improvement of the filter Motion blur (dialog box)
- Improvement of the filter Radial masque (dialog box)
- New filter Circular blur
- The drawing tools can draw on transparent area of a layer
- Improvement of the Erase tool (Invert mode for Alpha channel)
- Show active layer bounds
- The functions Progressive contour and Contour 3D auto select the layer
- Possibility to add layers in RGBA mode (transparent background)
- Improvement of the image explorer (scan textures and multiline display)
- Some source code improvment and bugs fixing
- New logo
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lanux128
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« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2007, 09:30:19 PM »

hi there Darwin, i found this problem in the free version where files (the pfi extension) saved in earlier versions can't be opened in a newer version and would like to check with you whether does this problem also exist in the pro version? smiley
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Darwin
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« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2007, 11:09:51 PM »

Er, um... dunno! If you'd like to send me a sample file I can try to open it, or I can contact the author and ask him. My gut tells me that this will probably be an issue with the Studio version as well.
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« Reply #15 on: May 22, 2007, 09:53:47 PM »

i don't have a sample right now but i was just wondering if anyone else have this problem.. i had tried searching in PF forums but the fact that it's in French makes things quite difficult.. Wink
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Darwin
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« Reply #16 on: May 23, 2007, 12:02:05 AM »

All right then, I'll drop a line to Antonio and see what he has to say!
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Darwin
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« Reply #17 on: May 23, 2007, 12:11:29 AM »

PS I've written to the author, Lanux. Don't know why, but I had gotten it into my head that you are French!
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« Reply #18 on: May 23, 2007, 01:06:31 AM »

PS I've written to the author, Lanux. Don't know why, but I had gotten it into my head that you are French!
why, i wonder? Wink but thanks for the email anyway..
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Darwin
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« Reply #19 on: May 23, 2007, 08:29:59 AM »

Hi Lanux - I've already heard back from the author. He says he changed the format about two years ago and that files created with version 7.1  or earlier of Studio cannot be opened in later versions.
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« Reply #20 on: May 23, 2007, 09:29:50 PM »

thanks Darwin, so that would be the case for the free version as well.. then it's not just me.. smiley
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« Reply #21 on: May 24, 2007, 03:15:19 AM »

Has anyone tried downloading the full version?

I've tried multiple times with and without Flashget, through Firefox and IE - but no success. It makes the connection, but keeps closing it again and retrying.

Any ideas as to why this might happen?

Thanks,

David
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tomos
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« Reply #22 on: May 24, 2007, 04:02:14 AM »

Has anyone tried downloading the full version?

maybe the site was having some trouble earlier -
I just downloaded it with FF (no download aids) no problem

http://www.photofiltre-studio.com/download-en.htm

__________________
Re the plugins page -
http://www.photofiltre-st...ugins/plugins.php?lang=en

does anyone know is there a way to download all 36 plugins at the same time
maybe some download manager or FF extension would do that ??

thanks
tom


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Tom
Darwin
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« Reply #23 on: May 24, 2007, 08:47:26 AM »

Hi Tom

Stardownloader's leech feature will work (though AFAICT you'll get everything - jpgs, gifs, zips, the lot). The latest free version works with FF 1.5 - not sure about 2.0. Neodownloader and Aarons' WebVacuum will also do the trick, although they are both shareware but come with trials (Neodownloader is fully functional for 30 days while Web Vacuum inserts a 5 second pause betweeen files after the first 30 files have been downloaded).
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Darwin
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« Reply #24 on: May 24, 2007, 08:55:25 AM »

PS just tried Stardownloader - it won't work via Context Menu in FF 2 BUT if you install it and run the leecher as a standablone, you can enter the url and it works. I've just noticed that there is a filter that will allow you to define what you want and ignore other things like urls and site graphics. This may be a feature of the Pro version only though (a quick look at the website if uninformative)...

Anyway, I just successfully used Stardownloader Pro download them all (and filter out the graphcis, etc.).

Hope this helps...
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