Ulead PhotoImpact 8.0 review: Ulead PhotoImpact 8.0

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CNET Editors' Rating

4.5 stars Outstanding
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Chock-full of easy-to-use imaging tools; produces sophisticated Web components; includes cool filter effects for static photos or instant animation; nicely integrated with online photo site; inexpensive.

The Bad Not available for the Mac; no CMYK-editing functions for commercial print applications; interface is a tad cluttered.

The Bottom Line This versatile program does a great job of handling digital photography, Web graphics, and vector drawing.

CNET Editors' Choice Oct '02

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Ulead PhotoImpact has long been known as a fun, powerful, value-packed image-editing program, and the latest version maintains that reputation. PhotoImpact 8.0 offers more useful new tools for digital photography and Web graphics than either of its chief competitors, Paint Shop Pro and Photoshop Elements. And although it is not intended to compete with full-featured drawing programs such as Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw, PhotoImpact also includes enough vector-drawing tools to qualify as an all-in-one graphics program. Overall, Ulead's jack-of-all-trades is top-notch. Ulead PhotoImpact has long been known as a fun, powerful, value-packed image-editing program, and the latest version maintains that reputation. PhotoImpact 8.0 offers more useful new tools for digital photography and Web graphics than either of its chief competitors, Paint Shop Pro and Photoshop Elements. And although it is not intended to compete with full-featured drawing programs such as Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw, PhotoImpact also includes enough vector-drawing tools to qualify as an all-in-one graphics program. Overall, Ulead's jack-of-all-trades is top-notch.

No hand-holding
Installation takes no time at all. Just pop in the disc, and Ulead does the rest. Once you've installed and opened the program, you'll see the typical image-editor setup: a toolbar and an option bar, a canvas area, and floating palettes galore. However, just like other midlevel and high-end programs, such as Adobe Photoshop Elements, for example, PhotoImpact's interface is so packed with features and palettes that your work space sometimes feels cluttered. One bright spot: PhotoImpact 8.0 earns big points for its dockable Palette Manager, which lets you quickly display or hide all of the other panels with a single click.

While this program is geared toward advanced designers who want more creative control and more power, if you're not a professional artist, don't worry--even beginners will find PhotoImpact's tools extremely accessible. Case in point: the EasyPalette allows you to visually browse special-effect filters, such as Oil Paint or Gaussian Blur, and apply them to images with a simple drag and drop. In version 8.0, Ulead enhances the automatic processing commands, such as autolevel and autocolor. For example, the autolevel command takes advantage of an improved algorithm to control dynamic range, and the new autocolor command removes color casts. And a brand-new correction function, called Enhance Lighting, lets you use concepts that are common to analog photography, such as Fill Flash, to improve exposure without affecting the midlevel gray values that typically contain image detail.

Photo montage made easy
PhotoImpact 8.0 offers several new-and-improved tools that make it easy to get professional results when selecting and pasting photographic elements in a composition. Little details, such as disrupted colors in an otherwise smooth background or a halo of stray pixels around an object, are often the telltale signs of an amateur artist. When you use the Match Background function, PhotoImpact automatically blends the background colors of a pasted object into the background colors of the base image. This feature saves you tons of work and delivers great results, especially if the two images share similar colors. And the new Defringe dialog box lets you eradicate halos around objects to seamlessly combine images.

Further, basic selection tools have been improved. You can now select portions of one or more active floating objects without merging them first. While this may not seem like a groundbreaking feature, it helps save time and energy when you're building a complex composition with lots of different elements. And you can now convert a lasso selection into a polygon for precise shaping with control points. There is even a new panel where you can store selections and masks for future use, just as you can store alpha-channel selections in Photoshop.

Creative special effects
Want to dress up your shots? PhotoImpact's special-effects filters add excitement to humdrum photos. Particle Effects, such as rain and fire, came in previous releases, but now you can also animate them. We're very impressed with the new Texture filters, which can turn ordinary surfaces into reflective metal, crumpled paper, or refracting glass. And although they are more subtle, several new Photographic filters mimic real-world in-camera effects, such as film grain or diffuse highlights.

Web designers will be thrilled with the new JavaScript slide show function, which lets you assign behaviors--such as stop, previous, or next--to individual parts of an image so that you can control the flow of your presentation. These snazzy JavaScript effects, combined with the ability to generate true HTML pages, make PhotoImpact a great choice for creating or tweaking a small business or personal Web site.

But alas, PhotoImpact isn't perfect. There's no Mac version, and telephone support is a hassle: it's a toll call, available only on weekdays. Still, Ulead's Web site offers a decent set of FAQs, tutorials, a searchable knowledge base, and an e-mail-based tech-support request form. And although version 8.0 can open CMYK files, it automatically converts them to the RGB color space, rendering PhotoImpact unsuitable for high-end commercial print applications.

Bonuses galore
As if this program's impressive features weren't enough, PhotoImpact comes bundled with Ulead GIF Animator 5.0 (a $44.95 frame-based animation program that lets you generate AVI and QuickTime movies in addition to GIFs), as well as PhotoImpact Album 8.0, a database-driven program that lets you catalog and back up your digital photos. Use Photo Explorer 7.0 to organize your images or link them to Ulead's Web-based photo-sharing site, iMira, which lets you store 20MB of photos, create photo albums, and send e-greeting cards. Best of all, with Photo Explorer 7.0, you can save a slide show that can be played back on any DVD-equipped TV.

Among midlevel image-editing programs, including Adobe Photoshop Elements and Jasc Paint Shop Pro, Ulead PhotoImpact takes the prize for offering the widest range of features. This program's sheer versatility, healthy dose of fun, and inspiring tools are just the ticket for small businesses, individual artists, and digital-photo enthusiasts.



PhotoImpact 8.0 offers a new collection of texture filters, which can make photographic images look like metal, glass, or crumpled paper.

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Where to Buy

Ulead PhotoImpact 8.0

Part Number: A30-480-111-0A0000 Released: Sep 25, 2002

MSRP: $89.95

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Sep 25, 2002
  • Category creativity application
  • Compatibility PC