Best Buy: Digital photo programs

(National) May 31, 2004 - Kerry Soloway's niece got married 14 years ago, "It was the best family photo that we had before her father passed away, and it was really special to us."

His niece has since divorced and remarried, so Kerry decided to update the family photo, "I decided to get the ex out of the picture, as it were."

You may not want to make such drastic changes, but there are plenty of programs that let you get creative with your pictures. Consumer Reports' Dean Gallea compared ten that are intended for amateur digital photographers. They're priced anywhere from $50 to $130.

Dean says these software programs let you correct less-than-perfect pictures, such as an image that's too dark, "We can fix this very simply just by going to the automatic level fixing, and it brightens it up."

The programs make it easy to remove red-eye caused by the camera flash, "I just hit auto fix, and the program automatically darkens the eyes, gets the red out."

And, you can touch up old photos, like one Dean had of his grandfather. The programs also let you alter the photos with different filters.

Among the more advanced programs, Consumer Reports recommends Microsoft Digital Image Suite Nine for $130. It makes changing your digital photos easy. Gallea says even editing out people is a snap, "I draw a circle around it and click the button, and the program fills it in with the background of the image, and it's like nothing was ever there."

If you want a simpler, less expensive program, Consumer Reports recommends Microsoft Picture It, which costs around $50, and, while doesn't give you all the bells and whistles of Microsoft's Digital Image Suite Nine, it's fine for correcting color and exposure and doing minor editing.

by Troubleshooter Judi Gatson

posted 6:00pm by Chris Rees

All Consumer Reports Material Copyright @ 2004 Consumers Union of U. S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED