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Smilart Fan Studio: edit your images online

Smilart Fan Studio: edit your images online

Note: Despite the picture and byline, the opinions expressed below are that of Senior Editor Lori Grunin.

Smilart Fan Studio isn't the first fix-your-photos-online service, and I'm sure it won't be the last. And really, it should have a big old BETA logo splashed across it, because it surely isn't fully baked--it's free, though, so I suppose polished code is optional. I couldn't get it to run in Firefox; it ran inconsistently in IE 6; and after downloading and installing IE 7 RC1, it still wouldn't operate properly. It turns out that the English version has no Javascript code in it! Ooops. The Russian version worked, however, as well as many automatic algorithms work--that is to say, OK, but not great.

Frankly, I tend to find stand-alone sites like this kind of pointless. It makes sense as part of photo-sharing/printing/whatever, but having to upload a photo, retouch it, download it to your hard disk, then reupload it to your sharing site strikes me as hopelessly slow, tedious, and inefficient. If you have more than a couple of images per month to retouch, you're better off downloading free software and working locally.

The site strikes me more as a proof-of-concept in search of a buyer, and from that perspective, it has some merit. The interface is one of the nicest I've seen for this type of application. A photo-sharing company or a photo-printing service could slap some color management under the hood, polish the interface (and perhaps add batch operations), and integrate it into the service for some nice value added. Consumers should just pop over to download.com and download The GIMP.