PhotoSuite 7's hands-on photo editing is comparatively basic, but it makes up for it with a host of other functionality.
As its name suggests, Roxio PhotoSuite isn't a single standalone package but a collection of applications and utilities designed to help you make the most of your digital camera. The easiest way to load the various modules is from version 7's new Home Page panel which lets you choose from a whole host of common tasks such as creating a new canvas, editing, printing, emailing and so on.
Roxio rightly recognizes that just managing your photos is a major task in itself and offers two applications to help bring your images under your immediate control. The first is Capture which lets you import photos from any connected camera or scanner. The second is Media Manager which offers thumbnail-based viewing of both hard disk folders and of themed "collections" that you create through simple drag-and-drop. You can further organize your collections through keywords. Particularly impressive features are the ability to play video files within their thumbnails and to archive your files to CD or DVD, and the integration of collections into the main PhotoSuite application.
So just what photo editing power does this main PhotoSuite module offer? At first sight the answer seems to be virtually none. The main Guide Panel that runs down the left of the screen provides just five main options: a single-click PhotoDoctor image enhancement, the ability to Crop and Rotate images, to remove Red Eye and, bizarrely, to Add or Edit text. Clearly the emphasis is on keeping things simple but this is taking things much too far.
But don't give up on PhotoSuite just yet. To begin with, the program's emphasis on automatic enhancement has a major advantage - you can apply it to multiple images at once via the Multi Photo Enhance capability (see BOXOUT). More importantly, PhotoSuite offers quite a bit more editing power than appears at first, if you click the Show All Features option at the bottom of the Guide Panel. Now you can independently control exposure, saturation, sharpness, tint and contrast and brightness. Retouching options also become available including three "Facial Flaws" options for removing red eye, wrinkles and blemishes and three "Damaged Photos" options for removing dust, scratches and for general cloning. And hidden away in the Paint and Draw option there's a Touchup brush which has variants for colorizing, tinting, lightening, darkening, saturating, desaturating, softening and sharpening. It's still not state-of-the-art power but it's as much as many users will need.
PhotoSuite is the main photo editing application.
The same is true of PhotoSuite's creative options. You can select separate areas of the image by freehand tracing, edge tracing (particularly effective) or picking colours. And once you've made your selection you can either use it as a mask, say to work with PhotoSuite's many filters, or turn it into a "cutout" which allows the creation of basic photomontages. PhotoSuite also comes with a range of "props" to help produce fun montages and a selection of pre-prepared projects for creating greeting cards, calendars, posters and so on. I particularly liked the Collage option which randomly shuffles, sizes and rotates multiple images and then allows you to fine-tune the effect.
Once you've finished working on your photos and projects, you'll want to share them. PhotoSuite's print capabilities are particularly good enabling you to produce individual prints, contact sheets and multiple photos per page with no fuss. Alternatively, you can email images or post them to the Roxio Photo Centre website.
Where PhotoSuite 7 really shines is in turning your photos into eye-catching presentations. The Media Manager offers a simple QuickShow option, but if you want to control transitions and add advanced animated titles, overlays and sound then you need to use the new StoryBoard module. And when you're happy with your presentation, you can output it directly to a connected TV/VCR or DV camcorder or to a host of formats such as WMV for efficient emailing. Most impressive of all, if you select the Burn Production to Disk command, your slideshow is automatically imported into a cut-down version of Roxio's DVD Builder program. Here you can produce a menu-driven front-end for your multimedia extravaganza and burn it to CD in the VCD (Video CD) format which is readable in most modern DVD drives and players.
.but the suite's real power lies in its additional modules.
PhotoSuite has one final and very impressive trick up its sleeve - its panorama capabilities. Click on the Photo Stitch option and you can load multiple images and PhotoSuite 7 will automatically detect the images' focal length from the embedded EXIF data and use this to automatically warp and align the images before seamlessly stitching them together. The results are excellent - far better than those from Photoshop's photo merge and even from expensive dedicated stitching software.
PhotoSuite isn't the right choice if you're primarily interested in a program for intensive photo editing, but if you're looking for more general functionality to make the most of your camera it's hard to beat. And impossible to beat at the price.
ratings out of 6
system requirements Pentium III 1.2GHz, 256MB of RAM, 1GB of hard disk space, Windows 2000 (SP4),or XP (SP1), 1024x768 display, CD-ROM.
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