The magazine of the Melbourne PC User Group

PhotoLine 32
Geoffrey Heard
 

 

Geoffrey Heard didn't want Photoshop but he did want some updated image capabilities He found them for under $100 at http://www.p132.com

A 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 of writing).

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 requirements.

Things that immediately attracted me to PhotoLine (apart from the under $100 price tag) included:

  • 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.
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.

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
dealing with an image. To the two programmers, it is all layers. I have suggested (tentatively) that they bring these capabilities into one
dialog box.

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

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