ArcSoft PhotoStudio v5 Review

Reviewed by: Howard Carson, Nov 2005, updated Feb 2008
Published by: ArcSoft
Requires: Microsoft Windows 2000, XP or Vista; Pentium II processor or faster CPU, 128MB RAM, 50MB available hard disk space
MSRP: US$79.99 (upgrade $49.99)

ArcSoft is the digital imaging software maker which seems to have overtaken all its competitors in the race to bundle their software with as many different brands of printers, scanners, digital cameras and video cameras as possible. Sonic competes heavily with its similar stable of products for photo, video, DVD, Blu-ray, HD-DVD, mobile photo & video and embedded products. But ArcSoft is the reigning champ in the bundling wars as well as a strong competitor in direct online sales. ArcSoft PhotoStudio is a basic digital image editor designed to accommodate the needs of novice and intermediate users and some advanced users who simply want a quick way of touching up digital photos, get rid of red-eye, add special effects and manage large numbers of digital photos.

There are some really attractive and useful filters built into PhotoStudio. Aside from that, the general editing, image management and output feature set has not grown significant since our original review in 2005. So PhotoStudio is still nowhere near the powerhouse that Adobe provides with Photoshop Elements 6, but it may suffice quite well for a wide range of digital photographers. There's also no content—no templates of greeting cards, frames, borders, calendars—supplied with PhotoStudio beyond a couple of dozen medium resolution color stock photos. It's hardly worth bothering to include them. The lack of even a few basic templates of any kind (e.g.: for printing multiple photos on one sheet) is a glaring omission in this type of home consumer software. PhotoStudio is a basic photo editor with some nice filters—nothing more.


The Magic Cut tool is supposed to be a rendition of the smart edge detection found in Adobe PhotoShop, PhotoShop Elements and our reference Roxio PhotoSuite 4. The problem is that PhotoStudio's implementation is terrible. Instead of working on a photo in the main window, the Magic Cut tool drops a copy of the photo into a smaller dialog window which contains the Magic Cut tool settings. You can zoom in, but the action is very inefficient and clunky. In addition, the edge detection itself is not very accurate. However, when you do manage to cut what you want, PhotoStudio does an interesting and useful bit of feathering to the edges of the selection. That part at least is nicely done.

One tool we really like is the Remove Holes brush. Basically, you run this over the edges of areas which have been cut & pasted or copied & pasted, or areas where objects have been added. The tool did good job of blending and eliminating the gaps, edges and holes left behind by our sloppy photo editing. Nicely done again.

Cons: Bucket Fill and Pattern Fill do not work the same way. The Bucket fills according to the contours detected in an area of a photo. Pattern Fills covers the entire photo. Why Pattern Fill doesn't work the same way as Bucket is a mystery, and it makes Pattern Fill almost useless in our view. The software crashed consistently under Windows XP Professional while using the Skew and Rotate tools on the stock photos supplied with the software. Although included in other software (e.g.: the rather dated Roxio PhotoSuite 4), features such as panorama (photo stitching) are only available as pricey add-ons for PhotoStudio.

Pros: ArcSoft PhotoStudio is a basic photo editor for use on your home computer. It's readily available internationally in a large variety of languages. A nice range of plug-ins are available for a variety of editing and enhancement projects. Since ArcSoft products also seem to be bundled with many major brand name PCs, there's a good chance of running into PhotoStudio when you purchase your next scanner, printer, digital camera or PC. At least try it before you go out and buy something else. It just might fit your needs.




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