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Microsoft Digital Image Suite 10.0 review: Microsoft Digital Image Suite 10.0

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To touch up an image, launch Digital Image Pro from the Start bar, or right-click a thumbnail and select Edit Picture. Even though all of Digital Image Pro's tweaks, effects, and project options are accessible from the Menu bar, we found the program's Common Tasks panel--located on the left side of the display--to provide easier access to most tools you'll need while editing.

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.

Adding special effects is simple and effective.

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 writing 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.

We were less impressed with Photo Story, which lets you generate an animated, narrated filmstrip out of a series of static photographs. Entirely wizard-driven, the process begins by selecting the pictures you want to use. The next screen asks you to record a narrative; as you speak, you move the mouse to point out important areas of the image, then step to the next photo in the series. The program automatically generates panning and zooming from your mouse movements, but you can also manually specify which effects you want and when you'd like them to occur. Next, you set up the title page for the show and optionally add background music. Finally, you select the quality and encoding settings for the show before saving it. The process is fairly straightforward, but the resulting presentation didn't thrill us; still, if you want to tell a story and send it to friends and family, it's a perfectly adequate option.

All in all, Microsoft Digital Image Suite is an excellent value. Its sharing features are a bit thin, but if you're looking for tools to help you organize, archive, and edit your digital photo library, Digital Image Suite offers those functions. What's more, it wraps them up in a graceful interface that's simple for beginners to grasp and operate.

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