Corel Claims AfterShot Pro 3 is World’s Fastest RAW Converter and Photo Manager

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom defines the market for applications that allow photographers to organize their images; tune them by altering contrast and color, converting to black-and-white, adding grain, reducing noise, adjusting sharpness and similar operations; and then print, display and share them. Corel went after this admittedly large market with the launch of AfterShot Pro in 2012, which is available for Mac, Windows and Linux.

Based on the now familiar non-destructive RAW workflow, AfterShot Pro (there is no non-Pro version, in case you were wondering) begins with an interesting claim, that unlike its competitors, "AfterShot Pro offers workflow capabilities that enable you to work with photos virtually any way you want, such as quickly accessing images from existing file folders or memory cards or importing them into searchable catalogs." So users can create custom or portable catalogs that can be moved to another computer but if images are already organized in folders there is no need to catalog them. Corel also claims that the app is "the world’s fastest RAW converter and photo manager" and in fact is "four times faster than the leading competitor" (that is, Lightroom) when exporting, thanks to being fully multi-threaded and optimized for multi-core and multi-CPU computers. Whether that's actually the case or not, factor in a cost of $79.99 (compared to $149 for Lightroom) and that's enough to warrant a download of the trial version if you need this category of tool and aren't already committed to the Adobe offering.

Corel is a veteran when it comes to creating graphics software but in this case it chose to build on the technology of the respected Bibble Labs. Images can be found via automatically imported EXIF data, such as camera settings, lenses and dates. Users can add their own keywords, ratings, labels and tags or use industry-standard IPTC metadata, such as captions and copyright. Non-destructive editing tools permit users to make intelligent automatic or manual adjustments, including complete exposure and tone control, color correction, white balance, noise reduction, curves and levels, and lens correction. While that's all fine, notable is the program's Regions and Layers capabilities, which make it possible to selectively apply image adjustments. It's also possible to bring images directly into Photoshop or an image editor of choice. A range of batch processing capabilities is provided, as well as for printing and sharing.

Version 3 adds an enhanced Highlight Recovery Range slider, which is said to now rescues more detail and tones from overexposed RAW images, delivering superior image quality. Comprehensive watermarking makes it possible to add watermarks to individual photos or batches, as well as adjust their size, rotation, angle, position and transparency. Improved blemish removal and correction makeslayer-based touchups and corrections possible without recourse to Photoshop. New photo presets have been added, as well as the ability to make and share new lens corrections. Corel seems to be taking a page from the Photoshop playbook, in the form of a new Plugin Manager that locates and installs plugins. Apparently free ones are available via the AfterShot community, as well as from developers.

AfterShot Pro 3 for Windows, Mac and Linux can be purchased on the Corel site for $79.99. A trial version is available for download.