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Nero PhotoShow Deluxe 4 Review

Verdict

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Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £14.99

Ever since the first daguerreotype was shot way back in the first half of the 19th century, photographs have been entrusted with the safekeeping of family memories. Back then your family photo album might have consisted of a handful of stiffly-posed portraits framed in silver and given pride of place on the mantelpiece.


Then the camera became a consumer device and the photo album took over from those ‘official’ pictures. And it’s been that way – apart from a brief and ill-advised foray into transparencies and slide projectors in the Seventies and Eighties – ever since.


With the advent of digital, however, everything has changed. The photograph has now become so much of a commodity that the job of managing the thousands of pictures on our computers has become a real issue. Just how do you preserve all of those precious memories in a meaningful way when you have so many pictures to manage and store?


There’s a raft of photo management tools that aim to help in this respect, but Nero PhotoShow Deluxe 4 offers a slightly different angle on things. It’s a multimedia slideshow creator, essentially, and one that’s aimed firmly at the beginner end of the digital photography market.


And it pretty much does what it says on the tin. Fire up the software choose the Photoshow option, pick a few photos and movie clips (you can even just pick a folder and choose to ‘watch’ it) and the software does the rest. It adds everything from a title screen and funky transitions, to zoom effects, backgrounds and even rolling credits at the end for you. If it sounds cheesy that’s because it is, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not great fun to play with and the results actually look rather good.


If all of that gets your creative juices flowing, there’s plenty of room for customisation, once your Photoshow has been set up. You can fiddle with every setting you can think of – add tunes from your MP3 collection, create captions and custom credits, control which transitions you want (and there are plenty of effects to choose from), add text, graphics and clipart, and the list goes on.


It’s a snap to do too, and the end results can be burned to disc as a DVD movie or saved to disk as an MPEG, AVI or as a self-executing .exe file. You can choose to save it in SVCD format to a CD-R as well, but you’ll lose your cool animations, which kind of defeats the whole object. Either way you’ll need a degree of patience as whole process takes several minutes to complete (around 15 minutes on my machine), even if the slideshow is only a few minutes long.

It’s also worth noting that the software also lets you share the slideshows (and still image galleries) via Nero’s Photoshow Circle website – when you buy PhotoShow Deluxe 4 you get a premium membership. Once uploaded you can invite people to go and have a look – the site uses Flash to display your Photoshows.


Of course as well as the slideshow features, the software also throws in a number of other tools, but given that this package costs just £15 it’s surprising to discover that they’re not just there to make up the numbers. The photo management software can’t match the facilities of Picasa – it’s largest thumbnail size isn’t really big enough, for example, and the application window can’t be expanded to run full screen without it choking the resolution of the whole screen down to 800 x 600 – but its Quick views feature, which lets you look at photos by year and month, recently viewed and so on is a doddle to use and works really well.


The image editing facilities are a pleasant surprise too, and include a range of Photoshop-like filters and tools (there’s even a clone tool here) on top of the usual red-eye reduction, brightness and contrast tools. You can also add animated captions to individual images that can be automatically incorporated into Photoshows later.


Add to this backup tools, the ability to create screensavers from photoshows, a desktop background that cycles through your photo collection, and photo emailing facilities and you’ve got a surprisingly comprehensive digital photo toolkit.


”’Verdict”’


I’m not going to pretend that PhotoShow Deluxe 4 is a tool for the serious photographer or even keen amateur. I’m not even going to make out that it’s perfect in every way. You can get more powerful management and photo editing tools without spending a penny and some areas of the package – such as the thumbnail view and lack of proper full screen mode – could do with a bit of spit and polish.


It is, however, easy and fun to use and offers an enjoyable alternative way of organising and viewing your photographs – in fact it might just bring that massive and unwieldy digital photo collection back to life. And for just £15 it’s also extremely good value for money.

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