This product is not related to the newly relaunched 1980s styling gel. Instead, it’s a digital camera editing package with the emphasis on preserving your pictures. It possesses its own interface with hallmarks of Windows XP’s photo handling, but has a working method all its own.

Immediately impressive is the fact that once imported into Studioline’s own database, your pictures are larger than average compared to XP’s and Paint Shop Pro’s smaller thumbnails, so you can take a better look at the pictures before you’ve even started. At 1024 x 768 three shots per line were fitted and I gained the fourth by increasing the system resolution to 1152 x 864 - although unlike iPhoto you can’t instantly resize the thumbnails on the fly. The project took the form of a wedding photo set, which had long since lain dormant on my digicam’s memory card. However you can also scan in developed pictures via TWAIN and your scanner.

The size isn’t to be sniffed at - I discovered several instances of red-eye and other previously unseen stock defects that I was able to reprocess and remove using the edit function. Although I’d used photo packages for other types of effects in the past on backgrounds, here, one click of the edit button, two sliders and then three to four mouse clicks removed redeye and that’s the easiest execution of this tool I’ve seen to date.

Elsewhere you can annotate your photos. However, while testing I couldn’t find a way to change the date format back to European from American month/date/year format while in the program. However this changes itself back once you’ve burned your project to CD.

There’s no “Are You Sure- OK or Cancel” dialog boxes, due to the layered changes process. You can always undo whatever changes you make if you’re not happy, so this package is really aimed at amateurs wanting streamlined picture processing and handling. Those aforementioned effects can be applied en masse to a batch of pictures to save time and the CDs produced can take the form of backups or a slide show set, or your photos rendered as a compilation on a single page or series of pages. If you want to keep it electronic there’s the Web Gallery option as well.

The change of interface wasn’t as scary as it sounded, as my sample project for the review was intuitively created without recourse to either the electronic or 115-page paper manual, and I only needed to view some of the slickly presented tutorials.

Verdict

There's nothing wrong with StudioLine Photo 2 and the Web page creation is a nice touch, but people used to packages designed around Windows-standardized User interfaces should stick with those and learn their complexities rather than trading down. Beginners however, can search for the 30-day demo and see if it fulfils their needs on digital photography, as it's quite a handy alternative to sub-XP OS picture handling.

As you can try before you buy (for 30 days) you can't lose with it. Hopefully H & M will be able to grow version three into something that can compete with the Adobe's, Jasc's and Apple's photo-retouching market.