Roxio PhotoSuite 5 Platinum Edition

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Recommended

A modern, user-friendly, good value and surprisingly powerful PC Photography package.

Like Ulead's PhotoImpact another recent budget release that also suffers from the Photoshop/Elements' effect and is just as seriously under-estimated is Roxio PhotoSuite 5 Platinum Edition. Like Ulead, MGI - the company which originally developed PhotoSuite - spotted the new opportunity that the arrival of Windows 95 and of consumer scanners and digital cameras provided. What made the program stand out, apart from its budget price, was its virtually fool-proof, drill-down approach to image editing with all functionality controlled step-by-step in the large and helpful Guide Panel running down the left hand side of the screen.

In many ways the program is too simple for its own good as its considerable power is easily overlooked. When it comes to editing, for example, as befits its intended audience, the emphasis is on quick results. The new PhotoDoctor feature is particularly useful here offering one-click enhancement of exposure, saturation and so on. But there's also some advanced and even unique power, such as the ability to automatically apply the same enhancements to a whole series of images and then quickly review the changes against the originals to accept or reject them - excellent. You also have easy access to the most regularly useful enhancement tools to remove scratches, blemishes and red eye.

PhotoSuite offers some advanced capabilities such as the ability to automatically enhance and then review multiple images.

Also impressive are PhotoSuite's integrated album-based capabilities that make it particularly well-suited to handling digital camera images. In the past it was something of a chore organizing your photos into thumbnailed albums but now this can be automatically handled based on the EXIF metadata embedded in your images by your camera. You can also add your own keywords for easy retrieval. Sharing your albums is also simple - you can either do this instantly and locally on your own system as a QuickShow or you can create a saved slideshow complete with soundtrack that you can then email. You can also quickly print your albums thanks to PhotoSuite's ability to output multiple different images and different sizes on the same page.

And that's not all. In this latest release Roxio, which took over the development of PhotoSuite from MGI, integrates its Easy CD Creator technology so that you can safely archive your image albums to CD while retaining thumbnail links. It also bundles a comprehensive standalone CD Label creator so that you can give your archived disks a professional polish. Most impressive of all, you can take an existing slide show complete with background music and burn it to Video CD format complete with DVD-style menus which you can then play back on TV via most DVD players (so there's no escape from your holiday snaps even for your computer-phobic friends).

By this stage it's clear that PhotoSuite shouldn't only be judged on its photo editing capabilities. In fact many users with their own more advanced photo editor, including Photoshop itself, could benefit from the program as a complement to their existing set-up. This is especially the case as PhotoSuite has one final trick up its sleeve with its Photo Stitch feature. Ever since MGI bought in this technology from Enroute this has been my favourite way of producing panoramas and, in this latest release, the capability has again been enhanced to take account of the images' detected focal length to help ensure that the necessary warping and alignment are as accurate as possible. The near-seamless end results have to be seen to be believed and put Photoshop's Photomerge capability to shame.

PhotoSuite's Photo Stitch feature is more than worth the price of the full package.

Similar and less effective dedicated panorama software can easily cost five times as much as PhotoSuite which again shows that it's a good idea to avoid being a snob when it comes to photo editing. While neither PhotoSuite nor PhotoImpact can compete with Photoshop or even Photoshop Elements for sheer pixel-processing power, they both have a lot to offer both as standalone applications and as extensions to your existing solutions. And PhotoSuite edges it for ease of use and sheer value for money.

 

Features
4
Ease of Use
5
Value for Money
6
Overall
5

ratings out of 6

PhotoSuite
Software / Upgrade
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system requirements Pentium III, 64MB of RAM, 80MB of hard disk space, Windows 98SE, Me, 2000, NT 4 (SP6) or XP, 800x600 display, CD-ROM.

Tom Arah

March 2004


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