Saturday, August 28, 2010

New Windows Live Photo Gallery (Beta)

The updgrade to Windows Live Photo Gallery has a very clean User InterfaceThe new Beta is available for Windows Live essentials (its kind of hidden away so here is a link to download it now). One of the new items is a revamp of Live Photo Gallery. One thing I noticed straight away is that it is extremely fast (compared with Picasa & Photoshop organiser) and I mean lightening fast. Maybe I just haven’t loaded enough photos into it yet! Ok while writing this, I got live gallery to scan this PC and external USB Drive for photos, it did it in less than 10 minutes, around quarter of a million images, that’s really good (two hours faster than PSE organiser)  and it is still fast.

So “Is it a good Photo Manager?”

Windows Live Photo Gallery iconCertainly YES. Window Live Photo Gallery has all the basic editing functions (plus a decent noise reduction filter) It supports organisation by Date/Time (the default), People (but a manumatic face recognition) General Tags and Geotags, it even keeps track of what you have “published” to the web and where. It has tags, captions and a 5 star rating system. It also has nice features to appropriately resize for emails, to publish directly to facebook & flickr and even makes maintain backups and shareable albums on you own personal Sky Drive. It has a very simple easy to use camera import facilities and seems to handle I needed to Download some extra Codec for RAW formatsof  the image and Video format I have tried. I did have to download some extra Codec for my Raw files (BTW the Pentax Supplied Codec only work in Vista or windows 7). So if you have a microsoft Vista or Windows 7 based PC, a new digital camera and/or a camera phone you should consider downloading it now, its free!

Is it as good as Photoshop?

Windos Live Photo Gallery versus Adobe PhotoshopWell NO, but… Photo shop has way more features,  PS & PSE are expensive and spoken of with great reverence by many bloggers and expert photographers. However I can also let you into an unspoken truth, the Photoshop family of photo editors, perhaps with the exception of lightroom are blotted, chronically slow and can be extremely tedious to learn and use efficiently. Yet PhotoShop can do some magic in the right hands and make other packages look ordinary in comparison. So for the vast majority of new camera user who don’t want to spend hours tweaking their photos or don’t already have Photoshop and one or more of those many glossy How to Photoshop books, Live Photo Gallery is much easier to use software to start with and its free.

Ok then “Its it a Picasa Killer App?”

Windos Live Photo Gallery versusGoogle PicasaProbably NOT. It doesn’t have a lot of the feature Picasa offers, like automatic face recognition, printing large posters, collages, HTML web galleries, screen savers, making movies from still images, backup & Gift CD/DVDs and the nice integration with the On-line Picasa Web Album, with its well thought out security/collaboration options. I’m sure there are more features I’ve overlooked, Picasa is an established and well liked application, something I would still highly recommend to a new digital camera owner. The one thing loyal picasa users are complaining about in all the forums at the moment is how slow picasa is getting, and I agree. The integration of Sky Drive into Live Photo Gallery gives you a personal place for photographic albums & archives in the Cloud, this is possibly its best and most important differentiating feature.  Live Photo Gallery does have a nice Panoramic photo stitcher built in and good integration with Photosynth.  So I think this upgrade to Live Photo Gallery is very timely and it has some great potentials and I for one will be running it on my desktop PC in parallel with picasa for a while to come.

Movie Maker, Live Mail and Messenger have also had decent overhauls and Live Writer, which I am using to make this blog post now has the new office style ribbon. So do they all. I’m not really sold on the Ribbon, I was quiet happy back in the office XP/2003 style menus.

Did I mention Live Photo Gallery is fast?

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