Corel AfterShot Pro does exactly what its name suggests – it helps you do everything with your photos right from the time they are shot till you get the final output. It includes viewing, organising, enhancing and exporting/printing the results. This workflow is typical of any photo management application, such as Adobe Lightroom. Let’s find out what AfterShot Pro has in store and whether it’s a worthy alternative.
An affordable alternative to Adobe Lightroom
AfterShot Pro uses a different approach than Lightroom. The latter doesn’t allow you to do anything with your photos until you import them into the catalogue. So much so that you cannot even view photos. In contrast, AfterShot Pro allows viewing and editing photos without having to first catalogue them. This is good if you want to view your photos before organising them or if you simply want to enhance and export individual photos. However, if your photo collection is large, then the Library tab will make your life simpler. Here, you can organise your photos into catalogues. So, you can create collections based on events or names of subjects, and so on. This can be done by creating catalogues and adding photos using the File System tab. In addition to shaping up your collection, cataloguing also makes filtering and searching for images simple.
Plugins yield good-looking results
The Metadata Browser in the Library tab allows filtering images in the catalogues using EXIF and ITPC information stored in photos. This drills down to as deep as locating photos based on parameters such as camera make, date/time, aperture, focal length, ISO, lens model, metering mode, shutter speed, white balance mode, and so on. In addition to this, you can also assign star ratings to photos, flag them (pick or reject) and assign colour labels. These can be accessed by hovering on the thumbnails or using the toolbar right on top. The toolbar comes in handy when you want to rate/flag/label multiple files at a time, whereas the thumbnail route is preferable when you want to go file by file. The Filter tool on the toolbar allows searching for photos based on star ratings, flag status and label colours or a combination of multiple parameters. For example, you can search for images rated four stars, labelled red and flagged as Pick.
Like Lightroom, this software features non-destructive editing. This means that the corrections and enhancements you apply won’t affect the original files – everything is stored as metadata. To get the final results, you have to export the photos.
Double-clicking a photo opens an enlarged view, fitted to screen. You can use the 1:1 button on the toolbar at the bottom to switch to 100 percent zoom or use the slider to zoom in up to 800 percent. Also present are buttons for picking white values, cropping and straightening tilt.
Plenty of adjustments and presets
A good thing about Aftershot Pro is that you don’t have to jump between different modules. Here, the user interface is common for image management, enhancement and exporting. The tabbed panel on the right is where all the action lies. It starts with the Standard tab that has the basic adjustments such as White Balance, Exposure, Fill Light, Blacks, Contrast, Saturation, Vibrance, Hue and Noise Ninja. Using just these parameters should help you get acceptable results. A notable feature here is Noise Ninja, which is a third-party plug-in for noise removal. It does a fantastic job, but you have to be very careful with it as using higher values result in loss of details. Some parameters such as Color Temperature, Highlights and RAW Noise are only available when you’re processing RAW images.
The next two tabs, Color and Tone, should be used if you’re meticulous about colour reproduction. You can adjust the Hue, Saturation and Luminance for RGB and CMY colour channels. The values can be either keyed in manually or changed using sliders. There’s also a histogram at the top in which you can drag the curve and pick black, grey and white points. With the Detail tab, you can enhance the details by adjusting the Sharpening, RAW Noise and Noise Ninja Standard parameters. On registering Noise Ninja, you get granular control in which you can tweak the strength, contrast and smoothness of colour and luminance noise.
The Metadata tab displays EXIF info and presents an interface to manage keywords and keyword sets. Keywords (for example, Family, Friends, Nature, Sepia, etc) can be used to filter search results. The Plugins tab can be used to add punch to your photos. The most notable elements here are the Black and White and Nostalgia – Film Simulation plugins. The Black and White plugin lets you use colour filters and selective colour.
Printing and Exporting
The Output tab on the left is from where you can export results to TIFF (8-bit and 16-bit) and JPEG formats. The output parameters such as resizing, embedding EXIF info, DPI and output location can be customised as per your preference. The Printing tab makes printing photos easy. With customisable print packages, you can print multiple 4x6, 5x7 and custom-sized photos on a single A4 sheet. So, even printing multiple passport size photos on a single sheet is a breeze.
Printing is simple with customisable print packages
Verdict and Price in India
If you already own a license of the licensed version of Bibble Pro/Lite 5, Corel Paintshop Pro X2 or higher, Adobe Lightroom or Apple Aperture, you’re eligible to buy the upgrade version, which costs Rs 3,900. Else you have to purchase the Full Download/Box pack which costs Rs 5,900. It costs almost half as much as Adobe Lightroom and we must say it’s a good alternative if you don’t have the budget to buy the best solution.
It takes a while to explore all the features and get used to this software. The user interface is intuitive and the online help comes in very handy, especially during the initial leaning phase. Corel AfterShot Pro is great for both beginners and pros. You can get great-looking results if you use just the basic adjustments. Professionals and studios will like the tight control over parameters. We only wish this software had basic video editing features and support for tethered shooting.
If you haven’t used a photo management application before, we recommend using Adobe Lightroom and Apple Aperture in addition to Corel AfterShot Pro. The premium that the best-in-class solutions command is quite justified.
Updated 20 Jun, 2013, 4:14 pm IST
Corel AfterShot Pro , Corel AfterShot Pro review , Corel AfterShot Pro price , AfterShot Pro , Adobe Lightroom , photo editing , photo editing software , Bibble Pro/Lite , Corel Paintshop Pro , Adobe Lightroom , Apple Aperture
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