Photo Impact has a huge range of tools for tidying up images, adding a little extra oomph and then getting them out of the software again. That can make the workspace rather cluttered when you have all the toolbars, option bars and palettes open, but the Palette Manager lets you dock and hide palettes easily. You can also record a set of editing steps to re-use later. Tools like the post-processing wizard (to fix problems like red eye) and the EasyPalette (which lets you browse fills, effects, shapes, text styles and templates) plus automatic processing commands like autolevel, autocolor and Enhance Lighting mean you can get great results without being an expert.
Combining several images is easier with the Match Background and Defringe features that stop what you add standing out like a sore thumb. The selection tools let you select several areas in one image at once and you use control points to get your selection to cover exactly the area you need. Effects range from subtle to dramatic, including animated Particle Effects like rain and fire and the eye-catching Star Filter that adds some sparkle.
With all these features you'll need to spend time finding out where everything is, and so it's good to see that the program comes with the kind of comprehensive printed manual that's becoming all too rare. You also get GIF Animator 5--the definitive program for creating Web animations--and PhotoImpact Album for organising your images. Instead of features for professional graphics designers, Photo Impact 8 sticks to tools for photo enthusiasts, including some innovative options you won't find elsewhere. --Mary Branscombe
There are many image processing packages around. Up until now I've found all those I've tried (either bundled with hardware, available for free trial, or on someone else's computer) difficult to use, too slow, or lacking in features. The high end software, mainly meant for commercial use, is just too expensive. PhotoImpact is different. It's easy to use, works very well, it's fast, affordable for home use, has every feature and function I'm likely to want, and so far its been completely stable.
I've mainly used PhotoImpact with scanned copies of conventional 'photos, and it's proved well up to correcting every fault I've asked it to, and to producing every artistic effect I've wanted. The automatic processing and correction features cater for most of my needs, and when they don't the manual functions provide a wide range of options, with good previews, and in many cases sample and select tiles. The undo function, when it's needed, has more levels than I've ever seen before which is most welcome with this type of software. Above all, everything's easy to use and does the job. The clone function deserves special mention. Instead of just the simple image copying I've found elsewhere this one has a wide selection of tools, including clone crayon and airbrush effects, which really do seem able to deal with any blemish and blend the replacement image seamlessly into the original. Also of particular note are the filters and the lens distortion tools. Both of these mimic the effects produced by the optical real things so well that I really can't tell the difference. The retouching tools are excellent, and the straightening tool makes rotating those shots with the horizon going uphill a doddle. Overall the range of effects is amazing.
The information on the Amazom Web site's a bit limited, and I'd recommend anyone thinking of buying this to look on the manufacturer's (ulead) Web site for more information and comparisons with other software. If you're prepared for a two and a half hour download then do what I've done and get the trial version before buying. The full manual's there as well, which takes another 45 minutes to download. (Be warned also that some features aren't there to start with and download as and when required). Be careful though. If you're like me then once you've used the trial you'll be back to buy a copy.
PhotoImpact is so comprehensive that I'm not planning to use any of the editing or viewing software which came with my new digital camera, and Adobe Photoshop Elements and various album and layout programs which came with my scanner are coming off to save disk space! Yes, it's that good.
At this price the software's excellent value, and I expect to be using it for a long time to come.
Whatever kind of graphic you need to make - from buttons and banners to whole web layouts, it does it easily and efficiently. It's hard to describe here the range and versatility of this program. It has hundreds of different effects on board, to give your pictures the professional edge. It has a huge variety of ready made components, the ability to make stunning 3d images, and some of the easiest and best photo processing tools in the business. Add to this a lively support community, and a host of excellent books, and you have a very big treat in store. Photoimpact is quite an experience.
I am not a software snob. I always look for the very best program for the job - whether it costs hundreds of pounds or pennies. Photoimpact is extremely well-priced, and must surely be among the best value software on the planet. I prefer Photoimpact to Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro for almost all graphic design jobs. Photoshop has the edge if you need to share projects, and makes life a little easier for those working in print, but for web graphics, I would go for Photoimpact every time.
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