Corel PaintShop Pro X8 review

PaintShop Pro now boasts even more features, but does it give Adobe Photoshop anything to worry about?

Corel PaintShop Pro X8

As with most new versions of long-running image editing programs, PaintShop Pro X8 is more evolution than revolution, but its new and enhanced features certainly give it added appeal.

The separate workspaces for image management, quick enhancements and comprehensive edits make the software instantly intuitive, and whilst the Edit workspace does require a steeper learning curve, make the effort and the results will be worthwhile.

We liked

PaintShop Pro impresses with its range and depth of editing options, along with its layered workflow, comprehensive batch processing abilities and automated scripts.

We disliked

The Adjust workspace, whilst useful for quick edits, can't match the versatility of programs that use a similar set-up, such as Adobe Lightroom, on1 Perfect Effects or Tiffen DFX. It's also a pity that PaintShop Pro still doesn't support Mac users.

Final verdict

PaintShop Pro's aim is to rival Photoshop's versatility and image editing power, but to be easier to use and cost a fraction of the price. That's no easy feat, but Corel has generally succeeded, as PaintShop Pro is one of the most capable alternatives to Photoshop you can buy.

Almost all of Photoshop's most useful tools have an equivalent in PaintShop Pro, and though they often work slightly differently, it doesn't take long to adapt, especially with help from the Learning Centre.

However, no matter how hard Corel tries, PaintShop Pro is still no Photoshop. Even with version X8's speed enhancements, some tools can be frustratingly sluggish, and then there's price to consider. Back when Photoshop cost a hefty one-off payment, PaintShop Pro could indeed be had for a fraction of the price. However, these days an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription for Photoshop and Lightroom costs just £8.57/$9.99 per month, which over a year isn't significantly more than the £79.99/$99.99 cost of PaintShop Pro, especially if you upgrade PaintShop Pro annually.

But, if you prefer to edit without subscription ties, PaintShop Pro X8 still offers excellent value, especially when compared to rival products which offer little more than the Adjust workspace alone.