PhotoLine 15 review

If you're willing to put in the little extra effort, then PhotoLine can pay dividends.

16 Feb 2009
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
(about £55)


While other image editors focus on aping Photoshop's workflow and shortcuts, PhotoLine - while outwardly resembling Photoshop - operates according to its own rules.

For example, you get vector and some DTP capabilities in addition to image editing. In this respect, it's a more akin to Deneba's Canvas. It even has a built-in arcade game (press Command-Alt when selecting About PhotoLine to reveal it).

The interface has been tidied up from the previous versions, with all the palettes now dockable and stackable, keeping everything nice and neat. Layers and Channels palettes are where you would expect them, and work more or less as you would expect, but there's no Paths palette, for instance. Instead, these are handled by the vector drawing tools from the Tools palette - the equivalent of Photoshop's Pen tool, although, as in the previous version, curves can be hard to see against a busy background while they're being drawn. There's no History palette, either, but PhotoLine does support multiple Undo/Redo, which mitigates against this.

There's even a Bridge-like Browser for opening files and filtering, previewing and searching for your digital assets. One thing that you'll also notice on the Tools palette is a selection tool that allows you to directly click on layers to select them and doubles up as a Move/Transform tool. This tool also has the advantage of being able to 'drill down' through layers in a document simply by clicking and holding the mouse button.

PhotoLine also supports a wide range of file formats, and this version adds Adobe's .svg vector graphics format to the list. Another plus is that PhotoLine's own .pld files have added support for Apple's Quick Look technology. One format not supported is the 32-bit .hdr format for High Dynamic Range images. It does, however, support both CMYK and Lab colour spaces at up to 16 bits per channel.

This new version is 64-bit compatible, which means it can handle documents over 4GB in size. Any filters that have been recompiled for 64-bit operation should also run faster, although you will have to wait for Apple's Snow Leopard before a 64-bit app will be able to fully leverage the advantages of a 64-bit operating system.

PhotoLine crams a lot into its toolset - far more than can be covered here - and its price of ?59 (about £55), even with the collapse of the pound against the euro - is still good value. One thing that potential purchasers should guard against, however, is that in many ways it departs from Photoshop standard practice. The ability to load in Photoshop keyboard shortcuts would be welcome, but it's not there at present.

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