Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Buyer's Guide 2006: Image-Processing Software
The digital darkroom keeps getting better with improvements in features and ease of use in software programs
Paint Shop Pro always has been a low-priced alternative to Photoshop (it's still only $129 street). One feature previously not include was Photoshop's color-management tools, but version X now has this important capability. It also can process and convert RAW files, and is fully integrated with Corel Photo Album 6 (included with Paint Shop Pro X), an image-organization and image-sharing program. Windows only.
Microsoft Digital Image Suite 2006
Microsoft was one of the first companies to feature an easy-to-use, yet full-featured image-processing software program in Picture It! Digital Image Suite 2006 continues that tradition and offers a complete set of image-adjustment tools in an interface that's designed to be user-friendly.
Like most image-processing software today, Digital Image includes a browser that also functions as a way of organizing and cataloging your images. One unique and useful feature is the Hover Thumbnail; hold your cursor over any thumbnail on the screen and an enlarged image appears to make it easier to see.
Adjustment controls are collected into toolsets, making them more intuitive for the photographer. The Color and Saturation Toolset deals with elements such as color temperature and color intensity. The Exposure and Lighting Toolset offers controls on a range of brightness and contrast adjustments, including a Curves adjustment.
New black-and-white effects in the program let you apply filters to a color image that correspond to popular film filters (yellow, orange and red) for black-and-white conversion. In addition, you can change the relationship of brightness in different color channels to create black-and-white images.
Microsoft's Photostory slideshow software has been incorporated into Digital Image, which lets you create effects between images, add music, zoom in or out on photos and pan across them for the Ken Burns effect. Microsoft Digital Image Suite 2006 is available for $89 street. Windows only.
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