Part photo editor, part RAW conversion tool, Corel's AfterShot Pro 3 offers some new and improved features that will especially appeal to photographers who want/need up to date RAW support for a minor financial investment. The full version costs $80 (upgrades are available) and, thanks to a new modular and dynamic system, Corel promises frequent RAW support updates for new cameras. Of course, it will take the team a little while to develop the RAW support once a new camera is announced, but this system will allow Corel to add new camera models once they're available.
While that feature may be key for some photographers, there's much more to the new version of this low profile (as in, it doesn't take up much space on your hard drive) software. Corel claims it's up to four times faster than Lightroom and a quick run through supports the fact that this AfterShot Pro version is very responsive (although I didn't perform any specific performance comparisons vs. Lightroom).
In addition, there's a Lens Correction Development kit that allows you to create custom lens correction profiles for, say, older lenses for which there's currently no profile. A new watermarking feature offers a wide range of options—not only can you create presets and layer the watermark, but you can also batch and stack them, alter the angle and more. There's a new blemish removal tool that works quite efficiently, too.
While I haven't put AfterShot Pro 3's new Highlight Recovery algorithm through its paces yet, initial tests indicate that this feature shows definite promise in bringing back details in clipped highlights.
In addition to an open plug-in SDK, AfterShot Pro 3 has a plug-in manager with options to download free (and paid) plug-ins. Along the same line, image presets are also built-in and can be downloaded (free and paid) from within the app. You'll find black and white, sepia, landscape and wedding packs, among others. Between the plug-ins and presets—and a long list of image editing tools, metadata and sort/search functions—you may find little reason to leave AfterShot Pro for other applications. But, if you do, it's one simple click to send your processed RAW image over to Adobe Photoshop for final tweaking.