Photo Pos Pro Review

Review and Rating of Free Image Editor Photo Pos Pro

Photo Pos Pro screen shot
Photo Pos Pro has a comprehensive interface. © Ian Pullen

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Photo Pos Pro was previously offered as a paid for application but is now available for free. This pixel-based image editor promises much, but lacks the overall coherency to set itself apart from the other applications in this field.

On first acquaintance I felt excited at what I'd find with Photo Pos Pro. After spending some time with it, I can see that this is a powerful application which offers many possibilities to dedicated users.

It does, however, require quite a time investment to make the most of it, and combined with some little niggles, it doesn't quite make a completely convincing case for me.

The User Interface

Pros

  • Easy access to commonly used tools in top bar
  • Tip of the day can highlight features users may overlook

Cons

  • Dated looking interface
  • No keyboard shortcuts for the tools palette or zoom

The user interface looks a little fiddly and dated and, combined with the sheer range of features, can make the learning curve appear a little steep. However, once you get beyond this, everything works quite well, though the range of options available for many tools and features can take some time to work through and understand fully.

Overall the interface is quite logically presented with the main tools down the left hand side, options for setting colors, textures and gradients to the right, and further features in the top bar.

I like the inclusion of one-click buttons for commonly used tools in the Shortcuts toolbar, making it easy to access some of the more important image adjustment tools. However, as mentioned, I do find the small size of icons makes it all look a little fiddly, though I don't doubt that familiarity would remove that concern and then the increased work area that the small icons offer would probably be greatly appreciated.

There is an option to show and hide the various toolbars and palettes giving greater control over the appearance of the interface. The Layers palette and the Tools dialog are both floating palettes that can be dragged around the interface as required. The Tools dialog changes to display different options dependent on which tool is currently active. Both it and the Layers palette have the option of being 'pinned' open or set so they automatically open when the cursor hovers over them and close again when the cursor moves elsewhere. That is a nice touch that can make the most of the workspace to ensure the working image is always as visible as possible.

I personally like to use keyboard shortcuts and miss the option of shortcuts for the tools in the Tool palette. Even more frustrating for me is the apparent lack of a quick and easy way to zoom in and out of an image, other than selecting the Zoom tool and using the various preset options in the Zoom dialog.

Enhancing Images

Pros

  • Dedicated Red Eye Reduction tool
  • Preset curves options and one-click adjustment tools for easy enhancements

Cons

  • No adjustment layers for non-destructive editing
  • Absence of Dodge and Burn tools

Photo Pos Pro is quite well-equipped for use in image enhancing, with some one-click options available to make quick improvements to images with standard types of imperfections.

These can be accessed from the menus and/or shortcuts toolbar, and include a Red Eye Reduction tool, image sharpening and noise reduction.

In the Colors menu, all of the one-click automatic adjustments are available along with most of the other main tools and features for image enhancement. One notable absentee is a Levels adjustment tool, which some users may miss, though Curves are included and these do tend to be a more intuitive way for users to adjust images. Personally, I generally only use Levels when fine tuning images for print in the CMYK color space, which isn't an option with Photo Pos Pro.

There are also preset options for converting images to black and white or sepia, though an advanced option on the sepia conversion offers greater control if desired.

The toolset unfortunately doesn't include Dodge and Burn tools, though this may only be a concern for more experienced photographers.

There are a couple of tools for cloning and repairing images. The Clone Brush works much the same as cloning tools in other pixel-based image editors, with a reasonable range of control options available. The Super Magic Brush is perhaps more similar to healing tools in Photoshop, in that it blends selected areas with the target pixels rather than simply overwriting the pixels, which makes it well-suited for repairing or hiding imperfections in images.

Creating Artistic Images

Pros

  • Reasonable selection of filters and effects
  • Good range of brushes which can be further customized

Cons

  • Duplicating layers isn't very intuitive
  • Editing layer masks can be fiddly

The Layers palette within Photo Pos Pro is quite well-equipped, though it can take some getting used to. For example, initially it seems that each layer has a layer mask applied by default, but you do need to manually add a mask if required. The Blend Curves tab allows a pleasing amount of control over opacity within a layer, and elements such as shapes can be added as children of a parent layer giving greater options for editing them.

Something that I've completely failed to find an answer for, even after checking the help files, is a simple way to duplicate a background layer. I couldn't find any option for duplicating layers other than copying a layer and then pasting it back into an image; however, I couldn't make this work at all with the background layer. There may be an option for this, but the fact that I can't find it suggests at least a fault in presentation of features within Photo Pos Pro. The only solution I could find was to insert a new parent layer from file which seems even more convoluted than copying and pasting a layer.

Once you have mastered the Layers palette, you'll find the application offers a reasonable range of filters and effects to allow experienced users to produce some very creative and sophisticated results. This creativity is further extended by the wide range of brushes available, which can be further customized to produce just the right tool for a specific job.



Photo Pos Pro also has an extensive library of shapes, textures, patterns and other objects that offer all sorts of creative possibilities.

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Graphic Design with Photo Pos Pro

 

Pros

  • Text flows within a frame
  • Text can be applied to a path

Cons

  • Lacks layer effects
  • Limited control over text

Pixel-based image editors obviously aren't designed for the purpose of producing complete pieces of graphic design, but I feel it's a reasonable test of such applications to see how they can cope with such a task. In fact, some people do prefer to use image editors in this way, and for pieces that don't contain great amounts of text, it can be an option.



One feature of Photo Pos Pro that immediately helps in this respect is the fact that text flows within a frame. This means if the font size is adjusted, the text automatically reflows without the need for adding manual line breaks. Text is applied through a dialog rather than being typed directly onto the image. Other than size and color, there are few options for controlling text, such as leading. However, the application does have a tool for applying text to a path, and that does add a further degree of flexibility for users.

I do like the Layer Effects offered in Photoshop and, indeed, in Serif PhotoPlus SE as these are a very neat way to add useful effects such as drop shadows, but Photo Pos Pro doesn't have such an option. There are other ways to achieve similar effects, but they can interfere a little with your workflow.

 

Sharing Your Files

 

Photo Pos Pro uses its own file format called .fpos, but can also save to other common file formats, including GIF, JPEG and TIFF.

None of these formats support layers though, so if you wish to save a version of your work with layers included for others to work with, they will need to use Photo Pos Pro also.

 

Conclusion

 

Photo Pos Pro is a powerful, free pixel-based image editor with a lot to offer, but I'm a little concerned that, as a previously paid for application now offered for no charge, it may not enjoy significant further development and improvement as the company behind it concentrate more on their commercial products.

Ultimately it just doesn't set my world alight, despite its extensive feature set, including:

  • Preset common image enhancing options
  • Good selection of effects and filters
  • Broad range of customizable brushes
  • Text flows within text frames

Some of the niggles and negative aspects include:

  • Duplicating layers seems convoluted
  • No Dodge and Burn tools
  • Editing layer masks could be more intuitive
  • No keyboard shortcuts for the tools palette or zoom

I wanted to like Photo Pos Pro more and have no doubt that the application has more than its fair share of dedicated fans. It is a well-featured application and is presented in a more conventional, though slightly dated-looking, interface compared to GIMP. However, at times I felt the user experience lacked complete coherency and, while I know this would improve with increased familiarity, I felt that some simple tasks took more input than should be necessary.

 

If you haven't yet tied your colors to the mast of a free pixel-based image editor and are prepared to invest time in getting the most from it, then do take a look at Photo Pos Pro. If you're one of those who becomes a fan, you will have added a very powerful tool to your design arsenal. If, on the other hand, you're a bit more of a casual image editor user, there are more user-friendly options out there which may better serve you.

 

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