Paint Shop Photo Album 5 is Jasc’s approach to the increasingly common storage, correction, sharing and organisation of digital photos. For regular readers of pocket-lint.co.uk, I apologise in advance that this review is going to be somewhat similar to the version 4 software reviewed last year. The user interface has changed, and for the better, but the core functionality - the really interesting bits - seem to be the same.
The user interface is ruled by four tabs - Organise, Enhance, Create and Share. Click on any of these and you open up the functions that the name implies. Organise allows you to arrange your photos. Organise provides the option of arranging your photos in folders. It will also arrange them in a calendar, which is great if the image is dated. The third option is keywords. Now this might be useful if you store an enormous range of specific images, but it does mean you need to do lots of cataloguing yourself.
Enhance, in my opinion is where you get your moneys worth, or not, in this case. The main options here are Crop, Quick fix, Adjust, Red eye and Thinify. Just take a step back for a second. What sort of bastardisation of the English language created a word like ‘Thinify’ - if you want to look thin in photos go on a damn diet.
Anyway, on our test images, Quick fix made no real changes, Red eye just seemed to apply massive bruises to the subject and Thinfy is a stretch feature, as in version 4. However, Adjust is pretty good. You get to adjust the colour, vividness, exposure and sharpness - you also get to see the original image along side a preview of a less or greater adjusted picture - so you can pick what you want. This is a good feature and creates noticeable changes.
Create allows you to do all sorts of strange things with your images - create a book, a greeting card with a picture of your “Thinified” face on it and so on. In the Album Page create section, there is a box that says ‘Add Journaling Here’, and I think it pulls into sharp contrast a real truth about this software - it’s American, and the Americanisms don’t really translate as well as they should. Whether this will be different in a European version, I don’t know.
The final tab Share gives you the expected options - slideshow, burn to a CD, order prints, create a web gallery and use your photos as a screen saver or wallpaper. Funnily enough, most of these features exist within the My Pictures folder in XP, and others are basic settings that any fool can do. The option to create a VCD or DVD is convenient and admittedly easy to use. You can also indulge in a little photo protection by scheduling reminders for archiving and so on.
Credit where credit’s due - Paint Shop Photo Album 5 is simple to use. It makes you think that this sort of thing would be for the computer illiterate, or kids. The create function does have that fluffy feel to it. There are some special effects you can add - my pulse quickened when I read about ‘Adding a Ripples Effect’, thinking it said Nipples … there is still the option to apply glass bricks over your image, although no explanation is given to why. Perhaps if you can’t be rescued by the “Thinify” feature, you can distort yourself beyond all recognition. “Here are the holiday snaps darling, yes, that you on the beach behind some glass bricks”. Says it all.