On first appearance, Photo Explosion Deluxe 2 is a budget photo editing package, like many many others before it. We put it through its paces to see what it was really all about, and we were pleasantly surprised.

Pocket-lint has played host to most of the big names in photo editing software, even different versions of the same thing. After a while, photo editing software can become a little stale, reviews ad nauseum, nothing new really appearing. Photo Explosion sends off the right message by coming with a big manual, yes, a full 245 pages in the box. The more you dive in, the more you discover.

The main user interface looks less complex than many others, and on first appearance you might think that this means you don’t get so much control. However, advanced options are always only a click away and you can get as technical as you like, with being overawed from the start. It that sense, it’s simpler to get going with Photo Explosion than with many of its competitors.

Outside the central application there’s actually a lot more lurking, so that you can perform a range of other tasks with your images - there is a panoramic picture stitcher, a morpher, to turn one picture into another, a device for making picture discs for TVs and so on.

Some basic features work very well, like changing the lighting or colour balance in a photo - rather than letting you take pot luck, it offers a range of buttons down the left so you can flick through the options and pick the best result. There is an interesting ‘change focus’ option that basically fiddled with different high or low points in the image and didn’t do anything for the focus at all - if only it worked like in James Bond.

Price when reviewed:

The software goes a little further than others - it contains applications for your Palm, PDA or compatible mobile. This is something of a novelty and provides an easy way to organise your photos between your desktop and PocketPC - which can be done anyway through ActiveSync, although this makes much easier, so you can do away with Ipaq Image Viewer, which is utterly useless.

Overall, Photo Explosion is a really good piece of software, and the extras really do work for the photographic beginner. As far as photo editing goes, the options are all laid out in front of you, and they simply work. Simplicity is the key and with the manual opening up new avenues. We found it is simply one of the most user-friendly pieces of photo software currently on the market. Retailing at somewhere round the £40 mark, it’s definitely worth getting your hands on if you are looking to improve and catalogue your photos, especially now that PSP 8 which used to occupy this area of the market is now at least £25-30 more.