Corel has announced the release of the latest version of its budget photo editing software, Paintshop Pro X4, complete with more than 75 new features or improvements.

Feedback from a range of beta testers and existing Paintshop Pro users helped to drive the new features across four different categories.

The software includes a redesigned HDR engine, allowing for photographs taken at different exposures to be merged for 'hyper real' effects. Photo Blend has also been added, allowing elements from two or more photos to be blended together for best results, for instance for removing tourists from a picture.

A new Fill Light tool has been added to help bring out underexposed areas of an image, without affecting the overall brightness of the rest of the image. The Clarity tool has been designed to bring out subtle details.

Selective Focus is another new tool which enhances a restricted depth of field, or it can be used to mimic a tilt-shift lens to create miniature scenes.

One of the key improvements on this release is speed, with Corel claiming a 50% increase on start-up and the best performance of any Paintshop Pro version yet.

Enhanced workspace

The workspace has been redesigned to allow for easy navigation between different photo workflows. The Manage space is used to review, tag and rate images. The new Adjust space allows for minor edits to be made, while the Edit tab provides the full editing tools.

From within all tabs, the photo organiser can now be accessed. Dual monitor support has also been included for the first time, while the Curves, Histogram and metadata support has been enhanced.

The ability to share images on social networking sites such as Facebook and Flickr has been enhanced, with users also able to quickly resize images for emailing.

A premium version of software has also been announced. Paintshop Pro X4 Ultimate includes additional pro-level tools including 52 filters with over 250 effects and styles in Nik Color Efex Pro 3.0, along with a choice of royalty-free images from Fotolia and extra 'Picture Tubes', which allow for cards, calendars and so on to be created.

Pricing

Corel Paintshop Pro X5 UK price is £59.99, or £44.99 for existing customers. Paintshop Pro X5 Ultimate has a UK price of £79.99 or £59.99 for upgraders. Both are available now.