Friday, January 12, 2007
Buyer's Guide 2007: Digital Imaging Software
From basic fixes to professional tools for the most demanding enthusiast, there's a photo app
From humble beginnings as Picture It!, Microsoft Digital Image 2006 Suite has grown into a full-featured application complete with organization features, advanced image-editing functions and compatibility with most Photoshop plug-ins. The latest release of the program has limited support for opening RAW files and also supports the creation of slideshows, Websites and the best panorama stitching feature of any application I've tried.
The Auto Fix features for levels, curves and color balance do a very good job with the majority of images, and when you're finished editing, you can easily share your work via the Web, e-mail or even burn CDs directly from the program. If you work with video, be sure to check out Digital Image 2006 Suite Plus, which includes Pinnacle Studio video-editing software. List Price: $99.
The learning curve is steeper and the hardware requirements are higher, but these applications are capable of doing anything you might want to do with a digital photo.
Corel Paint Shop Pro X carries a number of features that make it easier to learn and use. There are several auto-correction tools, but Paint Shop Pro takes these a step further by letting you customize the suggested corrections for more accurate results. If you spend time photographing people, a full set of Makeover Tools easily corrects skin blemishes, whitens teeth, smoothes wrinkles and even lets you add a tan if you like.
Additionally, a few tools allow you to correct problems common to many digital images, such as purple fringe and noise reduction. Along with this, a High Pass sharpening filter provides many benefits over conventional sharpening for better results.
To help organize images, Photo Album 6 is included, giving you easy management and sharing tools. Also new to version X are 16-bit image editing, more color management options for critical workflow and, for those of you shooting in RAW, Pixmantec RawShooter Essentials, which is a full-featured and high-quality converter. List Price: $99.
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