Photos on Disk: Corel Professional Photos

by Alan Zisman (c) 1993. First published in Our Computer Player, November 19, 1993

Corel Professional Photos on CD-ROM:
-- People
-- Coasts

Mac and Windows versions on same CD-ROM
$49.95 (US list) each volume

Corel Corporation


Ottawa's Corel Corporation has been a long-time booster of the CD-ROM format.
First, their drivers have provided some of the small amount of sanity
that exists for users trying to get presumably compatible SCSI devices (
including most CD-ROM players) to coexist on PCs.

Then, for several years, they've provided CD-ROM disks as part of their
popular Corel Draw illustration software. While the program can be used
without access to the shiny silver disk, CD-ROM owners got hundreds of extra
fonts, and multi-megs of additional clipart.

Now, spurred on by the increasing number of CD-ROM players, and by Kodak's
efforts to standardize its PhotoCD format, Corel has gone one step further,
with the release of over 100 titles in its new Professional Photos on CD-ROM

Each disk includes 100 full-color photographic images, accessible to Mac or
Windows PC owners. These images are available, royalty free, to licensed
owners, for use in everything from ads to presentations.

While the images make use of Kodak's PhotoCD technology, they are accessible
on any CD-ROM player, even older players that do not support PhotoCD, and
even to users who have not purchased the Kodak Access software. (In fact, the
Kodak software doesn't even recognize Corel's disk as a PhotoCD
disk... which it isn't. Corel's software, however, happily reads disks
written to by Kodak).

In addition, each disk includes several utilities, both for Mac and for

The 100 titles already available cover a wide range, from landscape (Sunsets
and Sunrises, Coasts, Lakes and Rivers) to geography (Arctic, Korea, New
Mexico), to aviation (WW II Aircraft, Fighter Jets, Air Shows), to cars (
Lamborghinis, Porsche Racing), to people (Couples, Executives, Lingerie (?)).
I was able to take a look at two of the volumes: Coasts and People.

Each ships in a slim box, consisting of the CD-disk, and two thin booklets.
One is a full-colour photo reference guide, showing small, but clear reduced-
size versions of the 100 photos in that volume. The other is the installation
and users guide to the included software utilities (which are identical in
each volume).

The pictures are lovely quality, full colour, professionally done photos.
They certainly raise the level of clipart from the small black and white or
colour cartoons of only a few years ago. Like other images saved in the
PhotoCD format, you can use them in a range of sizes and colour depth... from
a tiny 128x192 pixels to poster-sized 2048x3072, and from grey-scale, to a
choice of 16, 256, or 16.7 million colours. Avoid 16 colours... even with
256 colours, the colour in these photos appears dithered. Luckily, 24-bit
colour is possible on nearly all the recent Super-VGA video cards, as this is
needed to really appreciate these photos.

The original images, in an uncompressed format, would take about 18 megs
each... and even a 650 meg CD disk would only hold 35 or so. Luckily, the
PhotoCD format compresses the images to a more manageable size. Even luckier,
the same PhotoCD files are readible on Macs or PCs. Still, if you
want to edit the pictures, using PhotoShop or other 24-bit image editor, you'
re going to need a lot of free hard drive space, and quite a bit of RAM.

Along with the images, you can choose to install the included utilities. This
is not necessary, as the images can be read as is, straight off the disk, by
any program that imports PhotoCD files. For example, I was able to open the
pictures using the popular Windows shareware PaintShop Pro (ver 2.0 or later).

Mac and Windows users both get the ArtView Screen Saver utility. This lets
you use these, or other bitmap pictures or PhotoCD images as screen savers for your computer. (
Imagine... leave my computer unattended for five minutes, and a full-screen
photo of my dog KoKo could appear. Isn't that cute!) As well, users of both
platforms can choose to install Corel's Mosaic Visual File Manager, which
lets you create a catalogue of thumbnail images and descriptions of your
clipart collection. This is the same utility included with Corel Draw 4.0...
in fact, finding CD 4 installed on my computer, it refused to install a
second copy of Mosaic.

Unfortunately, the installation program was too smart for its own good... I run Corel Draw from my CD-ROM drive,
and thus couldn't use Mosaic with these images (I can't have two CD disks in
the player at the same time), until I fussed with my Corel Draw INI files to
make the original version of Mosaic 'disappear'.

Corel has been hinting at a Mac version of its Corel Draw program (as if the
Mac didn't have enough illustration programs as it is!)... perhaps the
appearance of a Mac version of Mosaic is the first step. Corel's Windows
background is apparent in the fact that PC users get an additional three
utilities not available to their co-workers with Macs.

PhotoCD Lab lets you view these photos. You can select screen
size, and colour depth, and rotate or flip the pictures.  You can export them
in a variety of standard formats, so that they can be used with software that
doesn't yet support PhotoCD (remember to have a lot of free disk space). As
well, you can use it to create automatic or manual slideshows. You can
display captions or create your own descriptions. You can even quiz the
audience. As well, you can play any of a range of genres of music behind your
slide show. (All the listed  genres seem to sound like non-descript 'New Age'
instrumentals, however).

Flipper allows you to change your Windows wallpaper each time you start up
again. Unlike some currently available shareware and freeware utilities that
do the same thing, your wallpaper files must be copied into your Windows

Finally, CD-Audio is a nice (you guessed it) audio-CD player, letting you
have all the power of your home-stereo's CD player with your computer's CD-
ROM player... so you can listen to music CDs while working at the screen. It
seems a little out of place in these packages, but hey, it's free!

And that's it... not everyone will need or even want these packages. But for
the desktop publisher looking for a wide range of digitized photos, without
any royalty hassles, these affordable, $49.95 packages are an awful lot easier that
shooting your own pictures, and getting them developed onto a PhotoCD disk.

And by the way, with 100+ volumes already, and more to come, Corel claims to
be looking for professional photos. If you're a pro who'd like them to
publish your photos, call Corel in Ottawa: 613-728-8200, ext 5080.

(Note from the year 2003): The above article was originally published in 1991, as a review. A decade and more later, I've gotten a series of emails from XTree fans hoping that I could sell them a copy of this software or direct them to a place where it is still available. While I have reviewed software since 1991, I am not a vendor of r any products. I suggest to everyone looking for copies of older software to check at eBay or at you check on my Files webpages, you'll find links to a number of (mostly freeware) downloadable software, some of which may be good replacements for older programs.
-- AZ (September 15, 2003)


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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan