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Author: Steve Weinberg
Cost: $45 download; $49 boxed
Photo Album 5 is more than just another digital photo organizer program. It allows you to import from cameras, scanners and memory card readers and enhance those photos (red-eye reduction, rotation, color and contrast correction, etc.).
Installation was simple, but failed to read the file of “important information.” This was not a major concern. After mandatory reboot, there was an optional interactive tutorial/guide that provided some basic terminology and steps to using the program effectively.
|Photo Album 5 lets you point to your “favorite” folders to find the photos on your drives. This helps remove lots of distraction as you can limit the scope of the folders being accessed. The organization tools were very good as you can organize the photos by date (Calendar mode) or folder. You can search for keywords that you can associate with photos.|
|A very worthwhile feature for me was being able to select and rotate multiple photos simultaneously. Typically, I download a batch of photos from a camera’s memory card into a new, empty folder. I then start to modify the originals with Paint Shop Pro or PhotoShop Elements. Because I shoot lots of verticals, many of the photos have to be rotated to be viewed properly. This program allows me to select as many photos in the folder as I like and rotate them all in the same direction with one click. Note, however, that the “undo” does not include the rotate.|
I created a “Quick Show” slide show to view all the slides in a folder sequentially. I added some music that was supplied with the program. I saved this on a CD for use in showing to others. Features include creating a CD of just photos or creating a slide show of the photos with optional music in various formats. I easily attached multiple photos to an e-mail. I could even create a webpage of photos for publishing and screensavers or wallpaper. You can create Video CD (VCD) slide shows, scrapbook pages, calendars, CD labels, Web galleries, greeting cards, e-cards, panoramas, and more.
|Image editing had some tools that worked well and others that did not. Red-eye correction was disappointing. The “Adjustment Wizard” was quite good at fixing various aspects of photos. It presents a view of the original shown between two variations (one with more and one with less of a particular attribute). For example, one variation could have more brightness or less brightness. Pick either one or the original and move on to the next selection. There are “Color Balance,” “Exposure,” “Vividness,” “Sharpness.” Another interesting tool, “Thinify,” let me “stretch “ the photo to any proportions vertically or horizontally to make the subject “thinner” or “fatter.” I added frames, changed edges, changed to black and white, added sepia tone, cropped and added text and music. Capability is included to make panoramas, but I have yet to try it. It “stitches” overlapping pictures together to make a single wide or tall single panorama. Also, for those into esoteric photo effects, you can change a photo to have a fisheye look.|
A photosafe feature preserves originals on disk or CD so you don’t lose the original should you manage to mangle the picture beyond all recognition.
I particularly like the use of right and left mouse clicks to enlarge or reduce the size of the picture on the screen. This is how it works in PaintShop Pro.
|The best is yet to come. Included on the CD is a “Photo Recovery” tool that can recover deleted photos from your camera storage cards. It saves all the photos in another location of your choice. It works slowly, but is well worth the wait. It has an annoying habit of continually seeking your floppy disk drive when a disk isn’t even present. All that aside, it’s a small price to pay to be able to retrieve photos that have been deleted.|
Overall, this is an excellent package for basic and some advanced editing and great for organizing your photo life. For more refined editing and image manipulation, should you need it, you’ll still need a full-featured program such as PaintShop Pro.
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