Tuesday, July 25, 2006

My Evaulation Project for Microsoft

A marketing rep from Microsoft contacted me to evaluate their Digital Image Suite 2006 software to get my opinion on its features and how it compared to the industry-standard Photoshop. It was fun to play with.

I wanted to put the program though all of its paces, so I devised a project that would allow me to test the scanning, cataloging, photo manipulation, and restoration features. I went into a back closet and pulled out boxes with hundreds of envelopes of prints. I was looking for portraits and found some favorite snaps of friends. I dusted off my flatbed scanner and went to work.

Here is my evaluation and some examples of the results:

The scanning set up was a breeze and I appreciated the automatic, “Do you want to scan another image?” prompt after each scan was complete. Once I had all of my 300dpi scans in TIF format organized into a project folder, I started making modifications. The Cropping Tool allowed me to make all of the scans proportionate, and I liked the grid feature showing the rule of thirds. Smart! Next, levels and exposure settings were easy to access, but in most cases, manual adjustment provided better results than Auto Fix.

For basic touchups, I used the Smart Erase feature on several images to remove people or objects in the background. It takes some practice, but once you get the hang of it, the feature is fast and fun. The Spot and Blemish Removal tool was really effective and the Wrinkle Remover worked wonders, even though my pals are already relatively wrinkle free ;-). The Add Flash feature didn’t do much, but most of the images used for testing were not overly shadowed.

Overall, bang for buck, I’d say Microsoft has done a great job of assembling the most critical tools for consumers who need fast digital cleanups. Because I made major modifications to these snaps, most likely the images will look best in smaller sizes on the web rather than printed.

One final note: the program used a lot of memory so I had to close any other programs I wanted running simultaneously. But the program didn’t crash on me, and I was pushing it as far as I could.

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