Corel AfterShot Pro
Mac OS X 10.5, 10.6 or 10.7
Age Rating: 4+
Corel has undertaken a big challenge in trying to squeeze a pro-level photo-management application into a market crowded with heavy hitters.
At first you might be tempted to compare AfterShot Pro to Adobe’s Lightroom and Apple’s Aperture. But a more fitting comparison is to Adobe’s Bridge and Camera Raw (both adjuncts to Adobe Creative Suite) for managing and editing images.
Corel provides similar flexibility in a more integrated environment that allows users to manage their photo collections and RAW images in a single interface.
RAW shooters may consider augmenting their existing workflows with AfterShot because it provides features not available in their applications.
Getting around in AfterShot is fairly intuitive. The adjustment tools are in the right column; the file system is
on the left. Toggle the middle area between Thumbnail, Standard (image and thumbnails) and Image views using icons in the upper right corner.
AfterShot is not completely customisable, but it has enough options to shape it to your preferences.
You don’t really import images into AfterShot; instead, you point the application to where they reside. This works well if you want to focus on a few specific photos. But it may feel cumbersome if you want to establish an efficient workflow for a shoot.
AfterShot is more useful when you want to choose a few images, edit them and save them to another location than it is when you want to import an entire set of images.
AfterShot Pro features a comprehensive set of editing tools. The controls are organised under four tabs in the right column: Standard, Color, Detail and Plugins (if any are loaded). If you prefer to work mostly with basic tools, the Standard tab is the natural choice.
Corel has included Perfectly Clear technology, which automatically adjusts lighting at the pixel level. The effect is like wiping clean a dirty window.
You can easily work in layers: Click the Open Layer Management icon and add nondestructive editing layers to your document. You can turn layers on and off, as well as adjust each layer’s opacity.
The program also integrates PictureCode’s Noise Ninja noise- reduction plug-in. The only downside is that you need a US$79.95 Noise Ninja licence to use advanced controls. I was disappointed with both the Sharpening and the Highlights sliders, which are quite basic. And sliders for gamma and clarity would be helpful.
Corel has included lens correction, with a hefty database of cameras and lenses, to help fix distortion, chromatic aberration and vignetting. Basic output options include batch processing or using the Save As command. Export file types are limited to JPEG and TIFF, but you have a choice between 8 and 16 bits for TIFF output.
As far as file management goes, AfterShot Pro offers plenty of familiar tools. You can easily apply star ratings, colour labels and flags. Once you’ve marked images, you can sort them using the Filter Tool. While you can view filtered results, once you have them, there’s unfortunately no easy way to retain a collection for future reference.
Macworld Australia’s buying advice.
Corel’s AfterShot Pro isn’t refined enough yet to seriously challenge Lightroom and Aperture, but it can augment them. Its implementation of layers is very easy to use. The application runs quite fast, even with RAW files.