I've been on my iMac kick lately, and you can't stop my enthusiasm! One of the reasons is because of the great new iPhoto editing software application that comes with the computer. (You can also download it free if you have an older Mac.) Now, you can effortlessly organize your photos and view them in a simple and elegant way. View hundreds of images all at once, or zoom into the one you want to work on with the useful and simple photo tools in the package. My favorite part is the photo book you can assemble and order online. It's so unbelievably clever: just organize the photos you want to put in your book; add text; connect over the web; pay 30 bucks and your handsome cloth-bound book is just three or four days away from your coffee table. Wow!
Adobe Photoshop 7.0 and Photoshop Elements for Mac and PC
One of the downsides of iPhoto is that it doesn't have many features to edit, "sweeten", or adjust the photos you capture. So, you'll probably want a good photo-retouching package. Available for both PC and Mac, Photoshop 7.0 is the newest version of the most popular image editing program. It's not for amateurs: this powerful (and expensive) program is used by photo houses worldwide. The newest addition to Photoshop is the "healing tool," which allows you to easily remove dust, specks, scratches, pimples (you name it) by cloning the texture of a spot you choose, then pasting that texture over the blemish. The full version of Photoshop costs about $600, and will be available next month. It's the industry leader for good reason.
If you're not up to spending all that on your software, consider Photoshop Elements. Basically, it's a stripped-down and simplified version of Photoshop, available for about $90 list price (but we found it nearly can be obtained FREE, thanks to rebates.) I like this program especially for taking images and making them useful for posting on my web pages.
Pinnacle Studio Deluxe
We've been so busy singing the praises of the iMac's video editing and DVD creation software; it's only fair to look for these capabilities on the PC. Fortunately, Pinnacle Systems, which makes high end editing equipment for the broadcast industry, now has an end-to-end solution for the PC. Called Pinnacle Studio Deluxe, this brand new software and hardware combo gives you a video capture card that takes both analog and digital video inputs and software to turn your video into a DVD or high-quality video CD. (You will of course need to buy a DVD-burner and these are slowly trickling their way onto the market.) Pinnacle Studio Deluxe comes with Studio 7 (an intuitive video editing software package); Hollywood FX Plus (sound effects); plus Pinnacle Express (so you can rather elegantly burn DVD discs that can be played back on a set top DVD player.) Suggested retail price: $299.
If you are too much of a technophobe to use the cool software we've just shown you to turn your videos into DVD's or Video CDs, you'll love the YESVIDEO service. Go to any one of their 3,000 locations across the country to drop off your videocassette… and several days later you'll get your DVD in the mail. Generally this service costs about $30 to $35 dollars for each DVD. (You can find their nearest location by going to their website by clicking on their link on the right side of this page.)