Microsoft Photo Premium 10

The digital revolution in photography is underway with a vengeance and there are going lots of people who unwrap shiny new digital cameras this Christmas.The creative opportunities in digital photography are enormous and the costs are so minimal that you can carry on taking pictures until you get exactly what you want. Digital cameras don’t take perfect pictures every time, like their film cousins, but you can adjust them so that they’re exactly right before you print them out or take them to the lab.
The tools you will use to enhance your digital pictures include a computer and a software package designed for the purpose. The computer also comes in handy for storing pictures that you’ve taken so as to make room in your camera’s memory for more.
The sort of computer that is needed depends very much on the size of the pictures you want to manipulate and enhance. Most computers sold in the last few years will be able to handle digital snapshots but you’ll need a more substantial machine to cope with the high-resolution pictures which today’s top-of-the-range cameras can produce.
There are many different software packages available ranging from simple programs for viewing pictures on your computer to extremely sophisticated packages which can manipulate images in every conceivable way. Most cameras come with some sort of software but much of it is pretty basic, which is why there are so many additional programs on the market.
One of these, which recently came my way, is Microsoft Photo Premium 10 which consists of a program for editing pictures and a library program for downloading them onto your computer and organising them once you’ve done that. You start by plugging your camera or memory card into the computer and hitting the Import button in the library program.
It copies the pictures onto your computer where you can view them and enter keywords, a rating, or task which needs to be done to each. You would later be able to get Photo Premium to show you all your pictures of cats, for example, all the pictures which you’ve rated as five star, or all the ones needing to touched-up.
Fixing a picture is as simple as selecting the one you want and hitting the Edit button. This launches the Photo Premium editor which gives you a one-click access to various tasks such as correcting the exposure and colour, cropping off bits of the picture you don’t want, applying a sepia tint or fixing redeye.
You can put a frame around your pictures, paint on them, add lines, shapes or text to them, and use them in a number of print projects such as calendars, greetings cards or album pages. There is bags of opportunity to be creative and, once you’re happy, Photo Premium 10 makes it easy to print out your masterpiece or e-mail it to friends and family.
And that is just about all there is to the program except for the ability to make selections of areas of a picture for use in other pictures and the ability to apply a transparent effect to picture layers so that the underneath layer become visible. The package does not include any clone stamp or other tools to do photo restoration but, then, it is designed to be as simple as possible.
I liked Photo Premium 10 because of its simplicity and the fact it demands a minimum of computer knowledge from its users. I feel that that it could be a good choice for people who want to be able to do elementary picture correction but little else. The only thing the package is really missing, to my mind, is a button which you could press to copy selected images to a disc for archival purposes or to take them to a lab for printing.
In spite of its name which includes the word ‘Premium’, the package is Microsoft’s entry-level offering for digital photographers. In the next few weeks I’m hoping to review Digital Photo Suite which is Premium’s big brother and loaded with features which make it sound ideal for users with more of an interest in photo manipulation.


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