The Photo Tool (keyboard shortcut P) is new in Xtreme 4.0 and Xtreme Pro 4.0. It is the next generation of XPE Xara Picture Editor, but unlike XPE which was a stand alone utility, the Photo Tool works almost exclusively inside Xtreme. Almost. Many of the Photo Tool's functions will be familiar to users familiar with the more recent versions of Xara Xtreme.
Xara Group Ltd., has stated numerous times that the Photo Tool is not intended to compete with or to replace a dedicated bitmap editing application such as Photoshop or PaintShop Pro. That said, your editor (that's me) now does about 85% of his photo editing in Xtreme 4.0. There are some very useful and powerful tools contained in the Photo Tool which we will cover in detail in this Workbook edition.
Like all of Xtreme's tools, The Photo Tool has a context sensitive Infobar. For new users to Xara Xtreme this means that the operations and options that are shown on the Infobar at the top of the screen, change with the selection of each tool. The options and operations are unique to the selected tool. While most graphics applications now have a similar context sensitive menu bar, it should be pointed out that Xara has had this feature for well over 10 years.
When you select a photo then select the Photo Tool (P) the Infobar changes to offer a range of operations and options as shown in the two illustrations above. Briefly these options and operations are:
Enhance Photos offers the four controls shown in the bottom illustration. Plus an Enhance button that automatically corrects the selected image. Maybe it does. Maybe not. We'll cover this feature later.
Clip is a unique cropping tool. So if it crops, why is it not called Crop? Your editor will explain when we get to that function.
Brightness Levels is similar to bitmap editors Levels tool and is a very powerful tool for correcting photo images.
Red Eye Removal is a tool for eliminating those embarrassing vampire-like red pupils that result from the illumination of the retina (the back of the eye) from a camera's flash.
Create Panorama is a fun and useful tool that stitches two to six photos together into one sweeping panorama. Users of Xtreme Pro 4.0 have access to the more powerful Panorama Studio that can use more than 6 photos and can also create animation.
Rotate Left and Rotate Right as you clever readers have probably guessed, rotates a selected photo left or right by 90 degrees.
Another new feature found in Xtreme 4.0 and Xtreme Pro 4.0 is Very High Quality view mode. You can access Very High Quality view mode using the improved View Quality slider on the Infobar or in the Window > Quality fly out menu. One of the benefits of Very High Quality view mode is enhanced high resolution images viewed at 100% zoom or 96dpi, Windows default screen resolution. According to the Xara.com website, "With version 4 we introduce higher quality anti-aliasing, along with real-time super-fast bicubic photo handling."
The examples shown above demonstrate the three photo view quality modes: Full Color is non-antialiased. When this setting is enabled, colors display properly and large images refresh faster. But text is not antialiased and appears jagged.
High Quality view mode is what used to be referred to as Anti-aliased in previous versions. The details are enhanced and the type appears smoother and cleaner.
Very High Quality is a step up from High Quality. Note the wires running from the mast on the sailboat in all three images. In Full Color and High Quality the wires look more like dashed lines. But in Very High Quality display they appear sharp and detailed.