If digital photos are your passion, iPhoto is a strong argument for getting a Mac, Walt Mossberg writes in his latest
Personal Technology column.
The columnist has been test-driving iPhoto on a new iMac. While there are lots of other consumer photo programs, mostly for Windows, he says iPhoto is different and better and is much simpler than other such apps.
iPhoto, a program for managing images from digital cameras, is the latest in Apple’s line of “i” tools. It joins iTunes, iMovie and iDVD.
“Most other photo software concentrates on helping you to edit your photos and then turn them into ‘projects,’ like calendars and greeting cards,” Mossberg writes. “iPhoto concentrates on organizing your photos and then sharing them with others. There are some limited editing tools, but the emphasis is on managing and sharing a large collection of digital photos, not tweaking each one to perfection.”
When you connect your camera to your Mac, archiving pictures happens automatically with iPhoto. The images are uploaded and organized by “roll” and archived together as thumbnail images laid out on a scrolling digital contact sheet. A slider on the side of the contact sheet lets you instantly enlarge and examine hundreds of pictures quickly.
A special print panel lets you choose printer, type of paper and margins and iPhoto will take it from there. ColorSync, Apple’s color management technology, is integrated into the new tool. Apple also helps store and organize photos, as well as share them. iPhoto, which has an iTune-like interface, has import, organize, edit, book and share buttons at the bottom of its screens.
The organize option lets you create photo “albums” via drag and drop, much as you create playlists with iTunes. The editing tools lets you crop simply by holding a button down and dragging and crop in various aspects ratios for different medium. You can also do other things such as make photos black and white. You can also customize iPhoto by making other apps, such as Photoshop, the default imaging application.
When it comes to sharing photos, you can create slideshows (using Open GL for cross dissolves) to which you can apply your own soundtrack. You can use them on your own Web page. You can do this now via iTools, but iPhoto does it all automatically and hosts the page on Apple servers.
iPhoto offers a built-in layout feature. You can have an online publisher print and mail you your own hardcover book of the pics in Kodak prints. Or you can order individual prints in a variety of sizes.
However, Mossberg does have a few complaints about iPhoto: You can only search by keyword, not by title or comment. The editing function lacks the ability to fix a picture’s brightness, contrast and hue. In the section where you create your printed book, putting the photos in the right order is harder than it needs to be.