Microsoft’s Digital Image Suite 10 finds the company once again attempting to take cash off people looking to get their digital camera and PC working in some kind of unison. While last year’s version was certainly smart, this is an area in which Microsoft still hasn’t hit top form.
Version 10? There are some smart elements to it, but the end product, while unlikely to disappoint, is hardly essential. Where it excels, though, is in some of its cataloguing features and its willingness to deal with and apply changes to several images at once.
The cataloguing is handled by the included Microsoft Picture It! Library, and it’s here where the package starts its work, instantly porting into its listing anything sitting in your ‘My Pictures’ folder. From there you can also elect to import from CD, camera or other locations on your PC or network.
Photos can then be grouped by customisable keywords or rating, and the software picks up information relating to date and file location itself. The result is a straightforward way to query and organise your images, although Adobe’s PhotoShop Album 2 does this all a little better, we felt.
Outside of the catalogue, there’s a comprehensive selection of image editing tools directed primarily at the home enthusiast. There are facets here that Microsoft should be commended for. First, the batch editing works really quite well, and you can easily select a whole bunch of images and get them all cleaned up simultaneously. The program is happy to auto-fix the likes of colour, exposure, contrast and levels, and it does this competently enough. Second, the interface is a breeze to get around, and it’s a program where you’re rarely stuck. Like most software it has its idiosyncrasies, but nothing major and nothing that you can’t get used to.
It also lets you take individual images and apply various effects with relative ease. Common problems – red eye, scratching and age – are handled by the software, and you can easily apply effects, repairs and filters. Some of these work better than others, of course, but the program is careful not to make any changes permanent without your express permission.
So all in all, it’s a handy and quite good package for digital camera owners. The problem? It simply doesn’t feel as good, nor is it as effective, as its competition. Paint Shop Pro, for instance, can be picked up reasonably cheaply, and offers far more options for photo touch-up (albeit with a slightly more complicated interface). And then the aforementioned PhotoShop Album does the cataloguing better. Which all serves to leave Digital Image Pro 10 as an application strictly in the chasing pack. Perhaps in a few years’ time it may be challenging for greater things, but for now, it’s a little way off the field.
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