Path Finder starts with the assumption that Apple's own Finder application simply isn't enough. This application is a Finder replacement that provides many tools for file manipulation that simply don't exist in the built-in Finder.
With the built-in drawers, you can minimize your Pathfinder window to those limited set of tools that you particularly need for full screen behemoth giving you microscopic details on your files and system. Using this module system, and you can customize each individual pain for the function you require. It includes modules for attributes, cover flow, information, permissions, the shelf, and the sidebar just to name a few. For LINUX geeks, there is even a terminal module. The preview module is particularly good and even includes some image editing tools.
When you first open PathFinder window, you see elements similar to the Apple Finder with a lot more information and options at your disposal. The customizable bookmark bar remains one of my favorite features. Using it, you can create your own custom drop downs including files and folders you use frequently. Likewise, you can set up a series of tabs at the top of the screen that also allow you to easily move files between them.
The new version also brings the Leopard sidebar into Path Finder. This allows you to use those sidebar tools from within Path Finder itself. Another new feature is the dual pane. With it, you can place the contents of two folders or volumes side-by-side in one window. This is such a natural way to copy and move files that I'm suprised it never found its way into Apple's Finder. If you are not in the mood to drag files, this new version also provides the ability to cut and paste files. This feature has existed in the Windows Explorer for some time. It is baffling to me that it took this long to get it in OS X.
The implementation of cover flow is very good. With the use of multiple windows, cover flow is actually more useful in Pathfinder than it is in the Apple Finder.
The drop stack remains one of the most underappreciated features in Path Finder. With it you can drag files from multiple locations creating a disposable temporary folder from which to relocate those files. If used properly, the days of opening two windows to move files are over.
If information is your vice, then Path Finder is your drug. Not only does it provide very detailed information about your selected files, it also allows you to easily modify details and permissions. The application also allows you to easily locate and view hidden files. Another innovative feature is the selection tool which allows you to define criteria for selecting files for manipulation. This is very helpful when working in large folders. Likewise there is a dedicated "Find" window that allows you to get extremely detailed with your searches.
Additional tools include an application launcher, and a robust compression tools.
I reviewed Pathfinder last year and concluded it is the Swiss Army Knife of file applications. With the recent release of version 5, that analogy remains even more true, but now it has a nuclear powered corkscrew and titanium scissors.
You can listen to this review on the Mac Attack Podcast #96