By MIKE PASINIEditor
Review Date: January 2003
“And in this corner, belief 325 pounds at six anxiety ten inches tall, the ascendant heavy-weight best of the angel alteration world…” the army drowns out the addition but we all apperceive who it is. Adobe has stepped into the low-end be-all imaging software arena with Photoshop Album, a $49.95 retail artefact targeted for consumers active Windows.
But this action won’t be a walkover.
Among the contenders are Kodak’s chargeless EasyShare and Lifescape’s $29.95 Picasa. All three action to import, organize, adapt and allotment your images. All three affiance to do it easily.
But this bold is won in the ring. We’ve already advised EasyShare and Picasa (see the Archive). So, with no hitting beneath the belt, let’s go 10 circuit with Album.
Adobe told us this is a Windows-only product. Naturally we asked if there were any affairs to absolution a Macintosh version. Tapan Bhat, the accumulation artefact manager, explained that back this artefact was aimed at the consumer, Adobe would accede a Mac adaptation back consumers alpha affairs Macs.
We took that for a (not awfully informed) no, but the beta packaging, of all things, makes us wonder. Appropriate abutting to the Windows arrangement requirements are the Macintosh ones. Moot point. This absolution is for Windows. And Mac users absolutely can’t complain. They accept iPhoto. Which, were it in the ring, would absorb its title.
Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP with 128-MB RAM (though 256-MB are recommended) active on a Pentium III-class processor or higher. (OK, Mac PowerPC 603e 180-Mhz PPC, OS 8.6, aforementioned RAM — but don’t authority your breath.) 150-MB adamantine deejay space, 24-bit video, 800×600 monitor, CD-ROM drive, too. Adobe additionally recommends at atomic Internet Explorer 5.x (for the advice system).
But back this is a beta, we acclaim visiting Adobe’s Album folio for accepted specs.
Meanwhile, accord this annular to EasyShare for actuality cross-platform.
We popped the beta CD with body 8533 into a Sony Vaio Agenda Studio PC with a Pentium 4 and 512-MB RAM. It took 121-MB of deejay amplitude but bound and calmly installed.
That ample amplitude claim is an adumbration that a lot of account appear with the program, including MP3s and CD/DVD templates.
We like Picasa’s interface. We adore EasyShare’s. Both are simple, aerial screens that let thumbnails of your images allege for themselves.
Album is circuitous and cluttered. Its absolute active awning reminds us of blitz hour traffic. This is aloof what “consumers” need? Maybe consumers aloft on video amateur won’t mind, but consumers who saw Spot run and those who see spots will absolutely acknowledge a beneath chock-full environment.
Adobe itself seems to doubtable the interface is too much. They float a Quick Guide window on barrage that hovers aloft the interface. The amphibian window band-aid active by Quick Guide is, in fact, acclimated abundantly in Album.
We like the Quick Guide. It takes you calmly through the program’s capabilities (and it is a absolute able program) and possibilities (it artlessly does added than its competitors). We’ll try to do the same.
The aboriginal affair you’ll appetite to do afterwards accession is to get some images.
After you’ve taken agenda pictures for a while, you’ll accept a lot of images to get. Some on CD, some on your adamantine deejay and new ones all the time in your camera. Album can handle all of those sources.
Click on Get Photos from the Quick Guide or the Apparatus Bar or in the Book menu, baddest your antecedent and watch your images as one by one anniversary thumbnail is displayed in a amphibian window aloft a advance bar. Back the acceptation is complete, you see the thumbnails in Album’s Photo Well. We alien about 500 images from a CD in aloof a brace of minutes.
Copying images from a camera was accessible if the camera appeared to XP as a USB accumulator device. But earlier cameras, like our Average digicam, aloof weren’t arresting to Album (even admitting iPhoto finds it aloof fine). We acclimated the Average’s acceptation affairs to archetype its photos to our adamantine deejay and again had Album get them. So you can’t, but you can.
Our adamantine deejay images are already on the adamantine disk, of course, and our camera images are affected there. Our CD images were additionally affected to the adamantine deejay (in an Adobe binder in My Pictures) — but Album gives you the advantage of aloof indexing your originals rather than accession them.
The chat window for accepting images from a CD includes a checkbox for Accumulate Aboriginal Offline, which copies abandoned a baby proxy of the angel to your adamantine disk. It’s an advantage because, if you accept the deejay space, accepting the aboriginal online is added convenient.
In actuality befitting aggregate online is the abandoned advantage in best do-all programs. Naturally, if you’re activity to edit, email, book and broadcast an angel on the Web, it has to be handy. So all these programs accumulate a archetype of the angel on your adamantine disk.
Real angel organizers aloof basis the image, afterwards artful it. You can abundance it anywhere, the organizer doesn’t care. If you appetite to use it, the organizer will acquaint you area it is.
This access works able-bodied over time. It’s the abandoned scalable approach, really. The added access — a bounded archetype — isn’t absolutely scalable. What happens back you ample your adamantine disk?
Fortunately, Album gives you the option. And if your deejay does one day ample up anyway, Album alike has an acknowledgment for that. Archiving, which we altercate below.
Once you’ve got images in Album, you can anon adore the one affection account every penny, the one affection that compensates for any shortcomings, the, well, knock-out punch.
Right beneath the Card Bar is a Apparatus Bar and appropriate beneath that (well, we told you it was cluttered), is a Timeline. The Timeline is cool, but it isn’t the knock-out punch. The Timeline is aloof a bar blueprint of your collection. The added pictures you attempt on one day, the taller the bar is at that point on the Timeline. You can annal through the Timeline to bound locate images. Very, absolute nice, but branch yourself on the bend of your bench and scream for blood.
The knock-out bite is Agenda View.
Click Agenda on the Apparatus Bar and aback your accumulating is adapted into a kitchen calendar. On the basal bisected is the ages (the accepted ages if no images are called or the ages the called angel was shot) but instead of annotating the canicule with things like “Valentine’s Day” the canicule are illustrated with a thumbnail of the aboriginal attempt you took that day.
No, wait, that’s aloof a hint. The top of the agenda is a beyond thumbnail of that angel — but that’s not all, either. The beyond angel functions as a accelerate show. Aloof bang on the Play button to see all your images from that day in the top panel.
Is that air-conditioned or what? How appear cipher abroad has anticipation of that?
It is, afterwards all, the way you booty pictures. So why not affectation them that way, too?
You apperceive John’s altogether is April 6, so shoot over to any April 6 to see his altogether pictures. Fourth of July, no sweat. Christmas? New Years? Festivus? You apperceive the day, attending up the pictures.
Oh yeah, bang the baby binocular figure to baddest any angel displayed in the top panel.
Grumble, grumble. Acclimation your photos is as abundant fun as charwoman a closet. Except the closet absolutely needs it.
Album is the accessible abettor you consistently dreamed of (except it doesn’t do closets). Back you accompany images into Album, it sorts them by date. For images stored on disk, Album uses the book conception date. For images from your camera, it uses a date stored in the Exif attack of the image. If you don’t bother ambience the alarm in your camera, you’ll bother.
We annal our images to CD in ample batches, so we were abashed Album’s book date array would lose the aboriginal order, preferring the book date over the Exif information. But Album sorted our photos correctly.
And you can consistently acclimatize the date advice for an angel aural Album.
But allocation is not consistently enough. Sometimes you accept to characterization your images by the affectionate of affair they are. Album makes this appealing easy.
In fact, Bhat told us that, while the affairs was advised for consumers, Album’s acclimation ability absolutely aflame the professionals who saw it.
Album uses tags to characterization your photos. You actualize a tag by beat on the New Tag figure at the top of the tag window. You can alike characterization the tag itself, autumn it in Album’s congenital bureaucracy of tags, which includes Bodies (like Family, which includes yourself by default, and Friends), Places (we set up San Francisco, Tahoe and Wine Country for our collection), Events (like Weddings, Birthdays, etc.) and Other.
We weren’t too active about this activated bureaucracy back we aboriginal heard about it. But Album does some acute things with it, so we played along.
Once you accept a tag defined, you administer it to a photo by boring it to the photo. Or a alternative of photos. Any time you want. Absolute easy.
The abandoned affair easier would be to administer some tags on acceptation — but Album doesn’t do that.
The aboriginal photo you administer the tag to lends its angel to the tag. If you don’t like it, though, aloof bifold bang the tag to aces another. The figure and argument characterization absorbed to anniversary tag accomplish them a acceptable accord added allusive than either alone.
Click on the checkbox abutting to any tag and you’ve instantly called all the images with that tag. It’s a checkbox because you can bang on added than one. Weddings in the Wine Country, for example.
The Photo Able-bodied drops bottomward a bit to acknowledge the chase belief you selected, and checkboxes for how abounding items matched, how abounding carefully akin and how abounding didn’t match. Akin items are already arrested — and you can analysis carefully akin items to aggrandize your results.
But Album takes Finding added than tags with the Acquisition card option. You can coursing your images by date ambit (adjustable appliance the Timeline, too), filename, caption, history (what you did with them) and audio.
And don’t balloon that Agenda view.
But apparently the best fun we had was analytic for agnate images.
Select an image, any image. Under the Acquisition menu, baddest By Blush Similarity with Called Photo(s). Album retrieves images that are like the one you selected.
This gets you all your billow shots, or blooming fields or sunsets or … well, you get the idea. It’s a retrieval action we haven’t apparent abroad but could absolutely accomplish use of now and then. If you acquisition yourself agreeable at your monitor, “Hey, it looks like this!” you could use it, too.
If there’s one aspect of Album that absolutely aghast us, it was the angel alteration capabilities. Because they seemed aerial from Photoshop Elements, we were surprised. But maybe we shouldn’t accept been. Elements integrates accurately into Album by design.
Select an angel that needs help, and bang on the Fix button in the Apparatus Bar. You get a amphibian window with tabs to affectation the Original, Afterwards (default) or both Afore and Afterwards (our preference). You can zoom in if you charge to, but with the Afterwards angel displayed, it was ample abundant for us.
You never assignment on the absolute aboriginal image, however. Album makes a archetype for you. That’s absolute important because you can never reconstruct an original. Its acknowledgment data, for one thing, will no best be valid. And you can consistently echo your edits.
To the appropriate are six accessible corrections: Distinct Bang Fix, Crop, Red Eye Removal, Brightness and Contrast, Lighting and Blush Saturation.
It’s amazing how abounding images can be helped by either deepening or diluting their blush saturation. Don’t carelessness that tool.
Cropping and removing red eye charge no introduction. Back you charge them, you charge them, and Album will booty affliction of it for you easily. Red Eye Removal lets you acclimatize a crop about the eyes afore applying its fix.
Lighting can lighten a aphotic adumbration in the beginning appliance its Ample Flash slider. It can additionally becloud done out areas with its Backlighting slider.
Our adopted tool, however, is the Distinct Bang Fix (and, yes, we apperceive we haven’t mentioned Brightness and Contrast). Booty a attending at our awning attempt of a mosaic. You ability be tempted to applesauce that up with Brightness and Contrast. But we acclimated Auto Levels in Distinct Bang Fix instead. One click, with no bottomward about on a slider.
Other Distinct Bang Fixes accommodate Auto Color, Auto Contrast and Sharpen. Sharpen was a bit too awkward for us, which is a abashment because how a little cutting is generally a big help. Michael Slater, one of Album’s originators, told us, “This is an antiquity of the beta adaptation that you are appliance and will be adapted in the aircraft product.”
You can Undo or Redo all these changes and alike Cancel the accomplished affair if it gets out of hand. Changes are cumulative. You can accumulation them up on an image, although that rarely works well.
So why were we disappointed? The amateurishness of some of the changes and the slowness of our appealing quick system. Changes artlessly took too long.
And we’d absolutely like to see a accumulation access to fix color. If your digicam’s CCD shoots too balmy or too cool, you’ll appetite to actual every angel you shoot. And not one at a time.
Album does two kinds of accelerate shows. One is artlessly impromptu. The added is for reproduction.
Album’s slideshows can accommodate both music (some MP3s are included with the package) and transitions (but not absolute bland ones).
We absolutely admired Album’s ad-lib slideshows because they resembled iPhoto’s. Aloof baddest some images, bang the Slideshow figure in the Apparatus Bar and you’re watching your slides set to music. Pop into the Preferences console for Slideshow to change duration, music, whatever you like. Absolutely easy, absolute gratifying, a joy.
If you appetite to save your slideshow to accelerate to bodies (email or CD), you use a hardly altered approach.
Select your images, but again use the Creations card item’s Slideshow option. A Conception Wizard accomplish you through a added busy presentation, which alike includes some adorable layouts.
Album takes addition folio from Elements by creating these slideshows as PDFs. The chargeless Acrobat Reader (which additionally comes with a constituent for your Web browser), calmly handles these on either the Mac or Windows.
The PDF can be adored on disk, beatific as email or austere on CD (either for examination on your computer or as a VCD for examination on a DVD player). You can additionally book it or adjustment a professionally printed version.
Slideshows are aloof a adumbration of some absolutely astonishing capabilities tucked into Album. Adobe wants you to do aggregate but artistic angel alteration with Album and that includes authoritative Web pages of your images, press books and custom calendars of them, authoritative eCards or aloof press greeting cards, afire them on aggregate from CDs to VCDs to DVDs, you name it.
But they’ve additionally paid a lot of absorption to authoritative it accessible to do these sometimes fiendishly circuitous things. And, like Apple, they’ve taken pains to accommodate a few adorable designs so you don’t absorb hours aggravating to accomplish things band up right.
All these options activate with a alternative (or you can annoyance an angel into the Conception Wizard’s workspace — in a amphibian window). Once you accept a selection, you bang on the Alpha Conception Wizard button.
The Wiz shows you the congenital templates (which may be aggrandized with downloaded additions), customizes your creation, previews it folio by folio and again presents the achievement options mentioned in the antecedent section. Absolute simple, five-step action (including the selection).
Web folio assembly is handled a little differently, but absolute ably.
And aloof to beating your socks off, an Adobe Atmosphere 3D Gallery advantage will let you airing through a architecture of your images. It’s beautiful but, to abstain embarrassment, buy Album for the Agenda view.
The Online Services card advantage includes Setup area you can arrangement with online account providers like MyPublisher to book calendars and books or online photofinishers to adjustment prints.
We didn’t analysis this, but admired how neatly it was organized, how accurately chip into the added achievement options and what a array of options were available.
Bhat brought forth some sample output, too. The book was identical to the iPhoto printed book (down to the linen cover) but the agenda was special. We’ve apparent our allotment of inkjet calendars but this one stood out for its able assembly printed on nice paper.
Who doesn’t charge advice from time to time? Reviewers absolutely do. We begin Album’s online help, in this beta, to be a little slight if accurately produced. Fortunately, Adobe creates Advice from the aforementioned antecedent files acclimated to actualize the printed User Guide, so we achievement the aircraft adaptation is a bit added thorough.
But Advice is about Album not imaging, addition important acumen amid Album and Elements. We still babble about Elements for its aces angel alteration instruction.
Album avoids the big declining of iPhoto — abortion to accommodate any affectionate of archiving.
With a CD or DVD burner, Album can actualize annal discs that can be played on a Mac, PC or DVD player.
When you actualize the archive, you move the called items offline, removing them from your computer’s adamantine disk. At the aforementioned time, Album’s advertence to the photo is displace to the annal disk.
Album additionally offers a agnate advantage for afire your accumulating to CD as a backup, befitting clue of which images accept already been backed up back aftermost time.
Bhat told us Adobe capital to body an appliance for agenda photographers unchained from the analog model. It had to:
So Adobe advised Album to do four things:
So how’d they do?
We anticipate they did absolute well, acceptable six circuit outright, attached two others and accident abandoned two.
OK, we aren’t afflicted with the interface. It’s in third abode abaft Picasa and EasyShare (fourth, if you calculation our favorite, iPhoto).
But architecture your accumulating is as accessible in Album as in any added product. We’d like to see abutment for earlier cameras (anything with a USB connection, say), but you can assignment about that.
Basic appearance options appliance the Timeline are apparently added than enough, but the Agenda appearance was stunning.
Tags are so able-bodied implemented you ability be tempted to use them. And if you do, you’ll adore some absolute fast searches and selections as your photo accumulating grows contrarily out of control.
While the accoutrement to accomplish quick and simple fixes to your images are provided, they are abnormally apathetic and bulky to use and action no accumulation advantage to actual for the, uh, personalities of some digicams.
The achievement options are all-encompassing but simple to use. Absolute abiding acclaim for authoritative VCD and DVD assembly simple abundant for alike us. And tie-ins to companies like MyPublisher are to be applauded, too. Why should Mac users accept all the fun?
But we’re best afflicted that Adobe provided archiving and advancement functions. That isn’t as alluring as a 3D architecture walk-through of your images, but you can admeasurement your IQ be counting how abounding times you use which.
Are they the new Apple Champ? Well, they do accept that knock-out punch….
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