Digital Image Pro 10.0 is Microsoft's top-of-the-line image-editing program, and though we think it's a bit overpriced for the features you get, it's a pleasure to use. It's equipped with solid editing tools and a slick interface. What's more, you can master the program in five minutes, thanks to a number of task wizards. The typical install takes up 300MB, so have ample disk space available.
The interface has a flat learning curve; the Common Tasks panel on the left side of the display provides easy access to most tools you'll need to adjust your photo, add special effects, or create a project. While beginners will appreciate this panel's streamlined approach, you can use the Menu bar if you'd rather turn off the panel and save desktop space.
To adjust your image, use Digital Image's toolbox. There's a standard array of automatic fixes for contrast, color, and exposure, as well as a selection of manual controls for sharpening, red-eye reduction, and the removal of wrinkles or scratches. Sophisticated tools, including layering, transparency, and a panorama-stitch wizard, allow you to do more than make a pretty picture. You'll also find a few artistic special effects and several preset borders and shapes to add to your image. These tools are accompanied by unobtrusive wizardlike walkthroughs that take the guesswork out of image editing.
One of Digital Image's most amusing features is its Project mode, a collection of photo-related activities that can easily distract you for hours. There are hundreds of projects; you can use your photos to create playing cards, magazine covers, stationery sets, labels, stickers, awards, albums, cards, flyers--you get the idea. We detoured from this review long enough to make a 12-month calendar and several sets of postcards. The process is so basic that almost anyone can slap these together in a few minutes. The template designs are attractive, if a bit simple, but they can be modified to suit your individual tastes.
Although it's a satisfactory program, Microsoft Digital Image Pro doesn't offer particularly good value for its price of $89. For $10 more, you can buy the upscale version, Digital Image Suite, which has a more efficient image organizer and a utility for turning photos into simple animated slide shows. However, at $50, Nero PhotoShow Elite (a rebranded version of SimpleStar PhotoShow Deluxe) is a better deal. We found PhotoShow to be more versatile than Digital Image, with terrific tools for editing, sharing, organizing, animating, and archiving your photo collection. But if projects are your primary goal and you don't care much about organizing or sharing pictures, Digital Image might be right for you.