The magazine of the Melbourne PC User Group
Geoffrey Heard didn't want Photoshop but he did want some updated image
capabilities — He found them for under $100 at
new graphics application has
taken up full time residence on my hard disk -
PhotoLine 32 from Germany, a truly
individual application with a host of
excellent features, an unconventional interface and a manual with limitations. Developed by two brothers,
Gerhard and Martin Huber, it looks
and behaves as solid as a rock, hums along doing amazing things at excellent speed, is fully cross platform (not
a hostage to either Vista's or Tiger's
built-in capabilities) and costs a modest 59 Euros ($93.50 at the time
Photoshop offers more than I would ever want and costs far more than I
would want to pay. Paint Shop Pro again demands that I pay for a lot of
capability I don't want. Fishing around among the smaller developers
turns up a huge number of possibilities — the digicam explosion has obviously
been a stimulus — but only a relatively small number that would meet my medium level professional
Things that immediately attracted me to PhotoLine (apart from the under
$100 price tag) included:
Behind PhotoLine 32's excellent image editing, generation and
manipulation capabilities, lurk some practical desktop publishing
features. In addition to the familiar image editing window, PhotoLine
offers the alternative of the DTP page-on-pasteboard screen, multiple
pages, a range of vector graphics tools, text wrap around and within
objects, and text on a line. It even does charts and bar codes.
- Context sensitive cloning — in PhotoLine, this is the "healing
brush". It "Removes wrong pixels or beauty defects like wrinkles". I was lucky; it turns out this is a new feature.
- Four colour CMYK capability as well as RGB. This is the bottom
line for a professional image application. Many small apps don't do
this; they are set up for family fun or in-computer use and perhaps web
publication, not professional print output.
- Excellent image control tools, CLOT, with a level of automation
but quality manual operation too (I am no image editing maven; I want
automatic fixes most of the time, but I do want to have the option of
tweaking troublesome pix myself).
- The ability to set resolution (dpi) uncoupled from size, and
vice versa. It is amazing how many small apps don't do this — which
might explain why so many multi-megabyte photos of nothing particularly
interesting are clagging up the Internet.
- A wide range of export/save as formats and the ability to
import/open a wide range of formats. PhotoLine offers 46, ranging
through the standard image formats to Windows Icon and multi-page PDF.
- A good set of tools to handle digital camera output — including
the pictures that result when you don't have it on auto but are fooled
by the enhanced viewer into thinking you have enough light of the right
colour. These tools include light/shadow, white point, colour
temperature, red eye, rectify (making converging/ diverging lines
parallel), lens correction, chromatic aberration, image noise
correction, RAW format and EXIF data.
- The ability to add some text to images.
- Multiple undos (PhotoLine offers up to 500!).
- Strong, fast support. You talk to the developers; they reply!
- A program that is well along the development curve. Twelve years
after its first release (for Windows only) in 1995, PhotoLine 32 is now
v.13.5 and cross-platform.
I have no need for the DTP features — and use the fully integrated
Canvas as my primary graphics and DTP application — but I can see these
features taking over for some specific small jobs as well as being
excellent for the casual or home user and ideal for producing quality,
individual albums or catalogs of images.
I have been using the program for three weeks now, with only one glitch
to report. I ran into an error the first time I used the healing brush. I have
used healing a couple of times since, working with files of up to 8 megapixels, with no problems
whatsoever, so I am dismissing the initial error as just one of those
things you get occasionally.
The toughest thing about this program is its unconventional interface
compared with other programs I have worked with. Gerhard and Martin
write a great program but group and name tools, actions and bits and
pieces in unusual ways.
An example — to set the desired resolution and resize a picture for this
publication, you have to go to menu bar | Layer | Layer Properties to
set the resolution, then go to menu bar | Layer | Scale Layer to change
the size — and you must do it in that order. To you and me, we are
with an image. To the two programmers, it is all layers. I have
suggested (tentatively) that they bring these capabilities into one
The PDF manual runs to 277 pages, but some things just aren't mentioned.
There is a tool that turns an image into a cylinder — and very ably. I
had seen the tool and wished to test it, but I couldn't remember where
it was so I opened the PDF manual and searched for "cylinder" and
"cylindrical". No mention of either word.
I found the tool eventually; it is menu bar | Effects | Effect Filters |
Projection | then select "cylinder" and set the parameters in the dialog
box. Typical of this program, the dialog is
excellent — there is a thumbnail window which shows what you are doing,
plus the option of a fast, full scale preview.
The tool works well, the interface when you get there is excellent. The
problem is getting there when you first start using the program. You
need to allow yourself time to work through PhotoLine 32 to find out
what everything is called, where everything is and how everything works.
Be warned, though — you just might find it as addictive as I do.
Reprinted from the July 2007 issue of PC Update, the magazine of Melbourne PC User Group, Australia