CNET Editors' review
PhotoLine provides a wealth of tools for editing photographs. While there is a great deal of options, the program seems to be aimed at users with a lot of prior image altering knowledge.
The program's interface kept us guessing when we started since it was cluttered with icons for editing tools and various windows with technical information. A visit to the Help file's definitions clarified a lot, but we still needed to experiment, especially to understand the more technical aspects. The program offered a great deal of editing options, from ones that fix small facial blemishes to cropping the photo to overall distortions of the image. The tools all worked well, but required a steady hand and an understanding of each tool's aesthetic properties to fully utilize them, which frequently resulted in pictures looking worse than when we started. The boxes to the right detailed highly specific elements, such as the RGB composition of the color and weren't helpful in our situation. One thing that wasn't over our head was the features that adjusted the picture's quality, like the slider option that roughed up the image and made it look old. Overall, though, we never felt comfortable with this program because of its demands of specific knowledge.
PhotoLine comes as a 30-day trial. While all its elements worked, we've tested other photo editors that were more welcoming to novice users and we do not recommend this program.
PhotoLine is an imaging processing software, image browser, layout program, vector editor, batch converter and web editor with many functions. It is available as 32 or 64 bit application. The imaging functions fully support Lab, CMYK, and 16 bit per channel, ICC profiles and raw data of digital cameras. It offers all tools you need painting, cloning, filtering, blending and flood fill, special effects like squirl, shadow, glowing, disturb, morphing, and 3d projection. Working layers, clipping layers, dynamic layer effects. EXIF digital camera data and IPTC data are supported. Multiple undo or redo levels, plug-in filters and much more. Support for many picture formats. The image browser shows your image folders, you can copy, add or remove folders, show image information. Create empty sheets of paper, place your images, text, and vector graphics on it.
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All versions:4.2 stars
out of 9 votes
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"Version 17 of PhotoLine Best Ever"
Version: PhotoLine 17.01
*64 bit for both Mac and Windows -- very fast!
*Open Raw images directly in PL without intermediate developer
*A Remove Brush tool (heal) that is second to none
*16 bit per channel color
*Records actions like Photoshop
*Uses the standard 8bf plugins and can include many of the latest automated plugins (Topaz Labs, for example) in recorded actions
*Customize toolbars, keyboard shortcuts
*Customer support response time fantastic
*Shareware priced at under 100 USD
*Steep learning curve
*Native language is German, and some translation problems occur in documentation
I have been using PhotoLine for more than two years now, and I continue to be blown away by the power of this very fast and efficient photo editing+ application. I am also amazed at how the review community seems to turn up its collective nose at PL simply because it doesn't look like Photoshop. The review here, for example, is two years old, (for an earlier version) and the reviewers don't recommend PhotoLine. They're dead wrong on that point, probably because they didn't take the time to fully test PL. Well, it's now in version 17, and it's time they took another -- and more thorough -- look.
Virtually all of PhotoLine's tools that apply to an entire layer are available as non-destructive adjustment layers. Of course those adjustments can be limited to only part of a layer with the use of masks in PhotoLine.
PhotoLine now has a new Remove brush tool (heal) better than the competing tool in Photoshop, Elements or PaintShop Pro. It's perfect for those who scan and restore old photographs. Of course, the Remove brush removes blemishes and spots in in other images with ease.
Also new to this version of PhotoLine is the ability to open RAW images from digital cameras directly in the photo editor. The images come into the editor with an adjustment layer containing several pre-selected adjustment settings plus other adjustments that are blank in case the user needs to make additional corrections. Just save the image in the PL native format, and it's then available for any future non-destructive editing needed later.
You can easily customize PhotoLine to fit your needs. Reposition the toolbars and panels. Change the size of the operation icons, Reposition, add or subtract icons from around the workspace. Easily modify the keyboard shortcuts by changing, adding or deleting. The PhotoLine workspace can be shaped to fit your individual needs.
PhotoLine support is the best I've ever experienced from a software company. If you have a bug or experience an operational problem, just send an email to company support. There'll usually be a response within one business day. Free updates are available to users between major versions. The publishers often include a major change in an update rather than waiting for release of the next version.
Even though there is a steep learning curve, if you adopt PhotoLine changes are you'll use a lot more of its tools than those in the bloated and overpriced Photoshop CS5. There are always very helpful folks available in the English language forum to assist there and to help with any confusion that may be created in the English language manual.
For a second perspective on using PhotoLine, here's a photographer who uses it in his work:
"Adjustment layers significantly enhanced in this update"
Version: PhotoLine 16.11
Since I reviewed version 16.0, I'll stick to the adjustment layer pallet dicussion
None for this feature
You can create a Virtual Copy of the background and attach an adjustment layer containing numerous adjustments to it, if needed. More than 36 kinds of adjustments can be handled in this way. No more separate layers with unique blends -- although you can still do that, too. All non-destructive. Save in PL's native format, and you can reopen the file later and easily manipulate any of the adjustments. This is a powerful feature.
"PhotoLine 16 is a great choice for photo editing +"
Version: PhotoLine 16.0
*64 bit for both Windows and Mac
*Very fast, loading in about a second on my Windows 7, 64 bit system
*Does what Paint Shop Pro & Photoshop will do, some functions much better
*Excellent customer support
*Compatible with PSD
*Steep learning curve
*Some of the terminology different than Paint Shop Pro and Photoshop
*The English-language manual, although thorough, needs rewriting with better explanations and more examples of PLs various operations
From the CNET editor's review, it appears they examined a different program than the one I use. Or at least, they didn't spend any time looking under the hood.
PhotoLine 16 is a powerful and fast program, handling photo editing, desktop publishing, RAW conversion, vector graphics, graphics for the web, flash animation and more, without all the bloat of Photoshop. All that for under $100 US.
PL is published by a German software firm with a large user base in Europe. It is translated into English, French and Polish, and PL maintains an English-language support forum on its website.
If you're making the transition from another image editor, you can customize keyboard shortcuts and add icons to the workspace to make operation of the application more comfortable for you. There are two problems with adding icons: (1) Not all of the PL operations are assigned unique icons and you can wind up with the same icon repeated for different tasks; (2) some users will perceive the addition of more icons to the workspace adds to a cluttered look.
All of the important operations you used in that other program are available in PL. In some cases they are better. In some situations the terms will be different, but with a little effort you're get past that pretty quickly. PL will run the standard Photoshop format plugins from Flaming Pear, Picture Code, Alien Skin, etc. However, it will not run the new automation tools such as Alien Skin's Blow Up and onOne's Photo Essentials, which were written specifically for Photoshop (some will run under Photoshop Elements).
Former Paint Shop Pro users who hate the new organizer will like PhotoLine's familiar Browser. It's styled like the old PSP browser, but it's much more powerful with batch processing, file conversion, slide show creation, etc. built in. In addition, that's where RAW files are routed to the developing process.
I've been using PhotoLine since version 14, and I'm extremely impressed by the company's customer support. If you don't find an answer to a problem on the company's web forum, just send support an email. You'll get an answer directly addressing your issue rather than a generic response suggesting you unload and reinstall the software. When I switched from 32-bit to 64-bit Windows, I had a problem with a 64-bit plugin that would not run under PL. Support pointed me to a link to a beta of the next version of PL that solved the problem. The English-speaking Germans on the forum are also extremely helpful and patient with those of us having problems making the transition to PL.
Overall, PhotoLine 16 is a powerful program. Download for the trial period. Download the English manual and join the English user forum. If you're willing to commit a little time, you'll learn to appreciate it's abilities. The price is right!
Version: PhotoLine 16.0
Dismiss the CNet Photoshop-fanboy review. This program is lightening fast...no Adobe bloatware here. Yes, it require's some effort to master. Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, Elements doesn't?
None that CNet mentions.
"Powerful, stable -- meets photo editing needs of most"
Version: PhotoLine 15.05
2. Full features, including layers, channels, masking, recordable actions
3. Customization possible
4. No installation of memory-hog applets that link to the publisher's server
5. Wonderful browser instead of organizer
1. Steep learning curve
2. Missing a few shortcuts found in Photoshop Elements and Paint Shop Pro
3. Because the publisher is a small German company, PhotoLine 32's English support suffers.
I purchased PhotoLine 32 ver 15.05 a few weeks ago and have been migrating to it from Photoshop Elements and Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo for my camera, scanning and web pictures needs. Because of its high cost, I never considered PhotoShop as an alternative. My comparisons here are based on my previous experience with PE, PSP and an older version of Corel PhotoPaint.
Unlike PSP, PL 32 appears to manage memory very well. I am now using it daily, sometimes hours at a time and have yet to see it crash.
If you have a lot of plug-ins, be prepared for a long startup period. Open the program, the splash screen appears, eventually disappears for a few seconds, then your workspace appears. Startup on my PC, which is pretty fast, is at least a minute.
The workspace is extremely customizeable. You can add icons for favorite actions, keep open lists for styles, shapes, brushes, and program keyboard shortcuts.
Being a longtime user of Paint Shop Pro when it was owned by Jasc, I love the Browser that comes with PL 32. When selected, it pops up as an independent window. From the browser you can run a slide show to view selected images, view images in full-screen mode, make contact sheets, scale the pictures and perform several other actions. The browser also allows the user to designate favorite folders for easier access at another time.
A really nice feature for improving scanned pictures (and others, too) is White Point Correction. It can be used as an automatic adjustment or as part of a Wizard which allows you to manually select the white point in an image. I liked this one so much, I put an icon for it on one of the toolbars. The wizard also runs brightness correction and color correction.
The Curves tool is well designed. A large graph window with a 10x10 grid is much easier to work with than the tiny graph in PSP, and of course Elements does not have Curves with the addition of an external action that has been recorded in Photoshop.
The Layers/Channels dialog is another well-thought-out feature. Most of the controls there will be familiar to PSP and PE users. Some of the layer operations are at the bottom of the panel rather than the top.
For support, purchasers of the program can send an email to Support with questions. My first question was answered within a day. There's also a support forum, both German and English, with contributions from users. The English participation is a little light compared to the contributions to the German section. There's also a 294-page manual in English for download from the PhotoLine 32 site.
"very good advanced image editor - not necessarily for beginners"
Version: PhotoLine 14.11
PhotoLine is an advanced image editor which also packs considerable vector editing and page layout functionalities. Highlights are for example the 16-bit capability throughout the program, LAB color space and CMYK support, color management, and extensive options for lossless editing.
It has all of photoshops standard tools (adjustment layers, layer masks, layer styles, layer groups), has a download size of only 12.3 MB, loads quickly and can be run from an USB-stick. .
PhotoLine has a larger set of adjustment layers than photoshop (19 different types including the standard types and for example unsharp masking and gaussian blur). Thus PhotoLine is very well suited for lossless editing. Similarly the rotation of layers is also carried out in the way adjustment layers are handled. This means the interpolation of the rotation is only carried out on export and all changes and adjustments are handled losslessly.
Uniquely, many filters and all blend modes have adjustment options ranging from -200% to + 200% ( other applications only have ranges from 0 to 100%). This feature becomes very useful once one gets used to the additional leeway.
- PhotoLine can use photoshop plugins of the "*.8bf" variety and in contrast to many other applications it lets them work in 16-bit and also reports EXIF data to these plugins. As always you might be able to find a few plugins which will not work in PhotoLine, but the compatibility is comparatively high.
- Macro (action) recording and batch processing
- Very customizable user interface; keyboard shortcuts can be assigned to almost any feature or command
- multiprocessor support
- A big assortment of sharpening, blurring, noise reduction, and artistic filters (but I have not used the artistic filters much).
- animation options
- A helpful and active user community with great interaction of the authors (English and German language forums)
- desktop publishing / page layout functionality
- simple vector graphic tools
- and more.....
The most annoying aspect of the program is its sometimes unusual terminology for tools and filters, which make the switch from another program to PhotoLine unnecessarily complicated. Gradients (a term used in all other graphic apps for the same feature) for example are termed "blends" in PhotoLine. etc.....
The translation of the help files from German to English could be improved, although the manual is perfectly readable and far better than for example the one of Silkypix.
The program does not provide a lot of hand-holding for people new to image-editing.
"Just the fact that it supports all known RAW files is worth the money."
Version: PhotoLine 14.01
RAW converter for the newest cameras.
Works on Windows 2000 (Adobe CS3 DOES NOT)
Easy to use
"MAPA : Symbol of Complication"
Version: PhotoLine 12.02
Protoline is the most sophisticated and thus complicated design editor you can find. To be used from a novice? No way. Not even from an experienced user. Only a professional can use it, after studying it for 6 months.
It must be said also that most of the functions (like RGB color setup or shadow on text and other functions) are not of the usual standards, they have peculiar adjustments i.e. %, and so on.
Example of how to turn simplicity into complication that can not be used. MAPA.
"Image editing's best kept secret"
Version: PhotoLine 12.02
(v.13.02) Fast startup, 0% bloat, easy ergonomics, extremely customizable. Active developement and user forums. I even prefer it over Ulead PhotoImpact and Adobe Photoshop Elements, plus I`ve tried 'em all from Cnet.
The toolbar icons could use a makeover IMHO, but that doesn't affect performance.