|App Name||PhotoFiltre Studio|
|App URL||PhotoFiltre Studio|
|App Version Reviewed||8.1.1|
|Test System Specs||Centrino Notebook - 1.4Ghz, 1024MB RAM, 64MB Shared video|
|Supported OSes||Windows 98/NT4/ME/2000/XP/2003/Vista|
|Support Methods||User forum and developer e-mail|
|Upgrade Policy||Lifetime upgrades with purchase of license|
|Trial Version Available?||30-day trial period, no limitations|
|Pricing Scheme||A lifetime license for Studio costs â‚¬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.
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 wouldnâ€™t cripple my aging notebook. Zaineâ€™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 â€śbiggerâ€ť apps in the raster graphics arena. Take a look at the version history and youâ€™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.
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:
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 . It looks odd and isnâ€™t intuitive.
However, itâ€™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 isnâ€™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 authorâ€™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 werenâ€™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.
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 developerâ€™s forum you can help direct development of PhotoFiltre, so if youâ€™d like something to be modified let the developer know and it may happen if others agree and it doesnâ€™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. Itâ€™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 youâ€™ve requested and which have been incorporated!
Another review of this application
Zaine reviews and highly recommends PhotoFiltre on his Great Software List:
EDIT: sorted out the placement of the screenshots...