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October, 2006 meeting notes:

At the Oct. meeting, a song started us out while we watched a colorful and free version of the G-Force plugin for Windows Media Player. We took a look at the new Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo XI, but we didn't look at all the new features the upgrade offers.

What we did see was an updated dialog box or two. Nothing with which the regular PSP user would have trouble. A hummingbird over bright yellow flowers was chosen to tweak with the brand new program. My pics are no Juan Bahamon masterpieces, so we had to zoom waaaay in to the picture to find the specimen. Until we lightened the midtones, I thought the bird was facing the camera. No so, as we saw the West end of a Hummer facing East. The program's de-speckle noise reduction did not produce a noticable change in the blurred wings, but my camera's ISO and noise level were pretty low anyway. Photoshop's depeckler filter is not any improvement over PSP here. Where Photoshop shines is its ability to downplay noise while still in the camera's raw format. That's something we will look at in November's meeting.

PSP XI has become more and more friendly to the high-end photographer with some 16-bit features (for large files with more tones that cameras capture) and the ability to convert various raw files. But to read the improvements Corel lists, one would think its a basic tool for the novice. "Organize your photos and video clips" Yeah, right. After buying and installing the current stand-alone Corel Photo Organizer 6.0 Deluxe (a type of which is included in PSP XI), the program took over when I inserted a Compact Flash card in the reader, then downloaded my pictures in record time! When it told me that task was finished, it asked if I would like to format the card. Well, I was impressed, but I like to have several copies on hand before erasing any pictures. I then discovered it lied to me. None of my precious raw files had been off-loaded as I shoot both jpeg and raw simultaneously. And they call it version 6?? and Deluxe?? Phooey! Please beware. Immediate uninstallation followed but it had been free after rebate. (no wonder)

Enhance, Edit, Experiment, & Create and even "easy" --the most over-used word on software boxes, are other marketing keywords that could make "Pro Photo" users look for something with less "scrapbooking" appeal. However, PSP has traditionally been 80-85% as good as Photoshop, at 1/ 6th the price or less. The trial version is worth one more look on my other computer under a new 30-day trial. I accept donations if the full v7, 8 or v9 Studio is not adequate for future meetings! See you 7pm Nov. 20th when we talk plain English about Photoshop CS and any other graphics topics you wish.

Giving Thanks for You,
Bruce Switalla

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