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Software Review of:
Instant Digital Photo Fix

 

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Terry Flannery has been a member of Alamo PC since 1997. He teaches Internet courses and campus classes at Palo Alto College. His field is English composition and writing. He enjoys helping his colleagues with their PC concerns and conducts regular seminars for faculty and students on Web design programs for instructional purposes.

From the November, 2002 issue of PC Alamode Magazine

Most folks are pretty generous when it comes to sharing photos with family and friends. It just seems to be part of human nature to want to show others the special people and moments in our lives. And, of course, e-mail and the wonders of the Internet have made photo sharing fast and convenient. Cousin Eddie can zap you images of Aunt Tillie’s birthday party faster than you can say “attachment.” But what happens when Eddie e-mails you pictures that appear three times larger than your monitor screen? Aunt Tillie looks like she’s the size of Godzilla, and her birthday cake is a frosted, two-story condo.
Three words — Photo Editing Needed.

Upperspace Corporation offers a fast, easy to use product called Instant Digital Photo Fix that can remedy most digital photo problems without taking the fun and convenience out of sharing those special Kodak moments. 

Instant Digital Photo Fix is an easy program to install. On my simple 200 MHz Sony, the program loaded in five minutes. The numerous .jpg and .dll files found their way to my hard drive without a hitch. The installation disk also came with a 30-day trial version of Design CAD 3D Max, which I decided to install and preview later. The load time for the CAD program was three minutes. With the installation complete, icons for each program popped up onto my desktop, and everything was good to go.

I have always found it handy to be able to see my tools at a glance, rather than clicking and searching through sublevels to find them. So when I opened Instant Digital Photo Fix for the first time and saw thirty-two buttons displayed beneath the top menu bar, I knew this arrangement was going to save me time and lessen search frustration. Almost two dozen of the tool buttons were image editing types. Each button’s graphical look was similar to designs I’ve seen in other image programs. In fact, I immediately thought of buttons in PaintShopPro. Most of the familiar types were there: shapes, text, paint bucket, eyedropper, cropper, rotation, color, line, magic wand. Two that I did not see and really missed were the paintbrush and pencil — both can be very handy. Nonetheless, the overall arrangement and familiar look made the program appear comfortable and easy to navigate.

Just above the tool bar is the menu bar with fairly standard menus: File, Edit, Image, Color, Draw, View, Tools, Windows, and Help. I gravitated to Help because I always like to check out the tutorial to see if I can learn something new. I found the tutorial and proceeded to explore each of the topics: Opening Images, Rotating Images, Copying to the Windows Clipboard, Copying an Image or Image Portion into the Selected Area of Another Image, Saving Images, E-Mailing Images, and Printing Images. Not much new here. The explanations were sparse because most the functions were rather simple. I did notice that the rotation function had both preset angles and Arbitrary, a function that allows the user to type in any angle. The Copy Image feature was a normal copy/paste function, and the Printing Images offered a choice of landscape or portrait and the size of the image to be printed. The E-mail Images feature offered suggestions for resizing. All right! Now that’s a function that all photo senders need to know. 

With that in mind I decided to test Instant Digital Photo Fix in two ways: check the resizing feature for setting the dimensions of a photo to be e-mailed; and check out several other functions that will change the look of a digital photo. For the resizing test, I chose a digital picture my son had just taken of his recently polished car. Since I knew that many digital cameras are set by default to capture images using a great number of pixels—for clarity and other reasons—I expected the file size to be large. I wasn’t disappointed. Opening the photo in Instant Digital Photo Fix, the information beneath the picture showed the horizontal size as 1024 pixels and vertical size as 768 pixels. I was hoping the program would also give the dimensions in inches, but no such luck. So using another program, I found that 1024 x 768 equated to 14.22 x 10.67 inches—way too large. Back in Photo Fix, I clicked on Image and then on Resize. The screen showed the same huge horizontal and vertical dimensions in pixels and gave the option of changing the number of pixels or their percentage. I chose the percentage and reduced it from 100 to 50. I clicked Ok and Photo Fix reduced the dimensions by half, 512 x 384 pixels. I then saved the new image under another name. To complete the test, I e-mailed the photo to myself using two features of my browser, Insert and Attachment. Both images showed very nicely when I opened my e-mail screen. What originally had been a file of 133 KB was now 36 KB. The smaller file produced not just a viewable photo, but one that downloaded rapidly. 

For the second test, I selected a photo of my niece’s son, Ryan. The image was already well sized, but I wanted to perform a few modifications: cropping, border, and text. The opening screen of Instant Digital Photo Fix displayed the picture with a caption giving the path of the file, C:\MyPhotos\Ryan; the resolution, 538 x 355; and the color depth, 24 bits. I first cropped the picture, trimming slight areas from the left and right sides of the photo. Next, I decided to add a border. I went to Tools, then to Border. The screen that opened displayed three options: color of border, outer thickness, and inner thickness. My border would be multi-dimensional, so I proceeded to select a teal color, 12 for an outer thickness, and 9 for the inner thickness. The result looked good and it hadn’t taken very long to make the changes.

Next was adding text. This was the more challenging part because I would be selecting a font that would have to look right and fit within a limited area, a text box. First, I would have to create the text box. So from the Tool Bar I chose the rounded rectangle tool, moving it to the bottom of the photo and resizing it to dimensions that I wanted. Then I clicked on the Set Drawing Color tool and selected a shade of yellow from the color palette. Next I clicked on the Fill Selected Area and yellow flooded into my rounded rectangle text box. Not too bad. That went quickly and was easy to do.

Step One was complete. On to Step Two. I clicked on the large A in tool bar, opening the text tool. The first box in the newly opened screen is the Sample Text. Here I typed what would go inside my text box — Ryan’s Favorite Spot. The default style is Drop Shadow, and my newly typed text appeared with a drop shadow on the right side of the text screen. Clicking on the down arrow in the Style window, I discovered a dozen more 3D-text effects. After trying most of them, I decided I didn’t want to use any of them. Instead, I opted for No 3D Effect. From the color palette, I selected a maroon color, and from the fonts display an 18 point Book Antiqua Bold Italic. Let me say that it took me a while to find the type of font and the size of font that I liked and that would fit inside my text box. Since I don’t do this everyday, I had to use trial and error. The program worked fine. It was my lack of font savvy that delayed me. The final effect pleased me. I had cropped the photo, framed it with a border, and added a text—all done easily and efficiently.

Instant Digital Photo Fix is a good program for a quick touch-up of photos, especially those that you may want to e-mail to family or friends. It offers a wide variety of tools for simple enhancements. I liked its ability to resize photos and add text, borders and colors. Its familiar design and accessible, multi-functional tool bar makes finding the right tool a snap. I highly recommend it for those just learning to edit images. Instant Digital Photo Fix is probably not for those who are used to working with more sophisticated editors, like PhotoShop or Illustrator. Even PaintShopPro users may be frustrated at times because Photo Fix does not provide the same type of information nor exactly the same tools. However, Instant Digital Photo Fix is program that does deliver on its promise to enhance digital photos in an efficient manner. It is definitely a program to consider when you are touching up pictures or preparing to e-mail them.

System requirements include 16 MB of RAM and Windows — Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Millennium, Windows NT 4, Windows 2000, or Windows XP. It is available through retailers like J & R Music World Computer, Micro Center, TigerDirect, Fry’s, Hastings, and others. San Antonio consumers will have to order it directly from the company for $79.95.

Instant Digital Photo Fix is made by:

Upperspace Corporation
600 SE 49th Street
Pryor, OK 74361.
Phone: 800/233-3223 or 918/825-4844.


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