Ulead PhotoImpact 10

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An extensive but mixed collection of creative photo editing power.

Any program that makes it to 10 releases is doing well and PhotoImpact has had a long and distinguished history over the last decade. Recently though the program has lost steam and has come to seem increasingly outdated and out on a limb. So how does version 10 stack up?

PhotoImpact’s interface has always been unorthodox to say the least and this latest version sees it brought more into line with common standards, and made considerably more productive in the process. Alongside the now ubiquitous Welcome Screen, the menu system has been reworked and rationalized and the previous odd mix of floating palettes have been turned into neatly lined up dockable panels. There’s also a new Basic Mode command which hides all palettes and increases the size of icons in an attempt to be more user-friendly. Overall the new environment is definitely a big improvement - but there’s still a long way to go.

In terms of new photo-editing power the new Digital Camera Wizard downloads pictures direct from your digital camera while the Browse Manager now shows EXIF data and lets you select multiple images. There’s a Reduce Noise filter to remove CCD-generated noise, an enhanced Remove Red Eye tool which can handle animal eyes and a Touch-Up tool which acts like an intelligent version of the Clone tool. PhotoImpact’s advanced High Dynamic Range command for combining multiple exposures into a single image has also been updated to include histogram clipping control and to enable areas of component images to be masked out.

If you want to get more creative with your images, PhotoImpact’s compositing control has been enhanced with a Smart Lasso and Extract Object command to isolate image elements from their backgrounds and a Match Background Colour command to merge them back in with their new surroundings. Vector shape handling has also been tweaked with the ability to set the number of sides of polygons and to work with multiple nodes simultaneously. It’s with its creative filters though that PhotoImpact has always stood out from the crowd, and version 10 takes things further than ever with no less than 17 new painting and artistic effects ranging from Oil Paint to Etching, Finger Paint to Cartoon. The Contour Drawing option for intelligently pulling out the outlines of an image is particularly impressive.

That’s about it for PhotoImpact itself but there’s plenty more included in the box. For cataloguing your photos as albums there’s PhotoImpact Album 10 though Ulead has virtually stopped development of this since version 3. Much more useful is the inclusion of Photo Explorer 8.5 which is designed to let you view folders of images as thumbnails and to share and distribute your photos as email, projects such as calendars and even Video CDs. And to round everything out there’s GIF Animator 5 (web imaging has always been one of PhotoImpact’s major strengths), Cool 360 which produces panoramas (and some very irritating noises in the process) and cut-down versions of Alien Skin’s Eye Candy and Splat filters.

There’s no doubt that PhotoImpact 10 provides you with a lot of power for your money – just the new filters on their own would probably cost you more than the entire suite if they were released as Photoshop plug-ins. However, compared to the fully integrated Photoshop Elements 3 (see page ), PhotoImpact 10 is much more of a mixed bag - and looking more outdated than ever.

Features
4
Ease of Use
3
Value for Money
5
Overall
4

ratings out of 6

PhotoImpact
Software / Upgrade
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System requirements: Pentium III, 128/256MB of RAM, 500MB of hard disk space, Windows 98SE, 2000, ME or XP, SVGA, CD-ROM .

Tom Arah

October 2004


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