Review: Microsoft Photo Story

microsoft-photo-story-1.pngThose of us with digital cameras are spoilt for choice for when it comes to software and there are literally hundreds of programs that allow you to edit, manage and share your pictures. Let’s face it, most of the software that comes bundled with the camera is usually pretty limited, so it’s always worth hunting around for a third-party app to ensure your images are at their best. If you’re a Mac user then you really don’t need to look further than iPhoto, which comes thrown inbundled with most new systems these days and allows you to present your snaps in a number of unique ways. Windows users were bereft of such a decent built-in photo app until XP Media Center Edition 2005 came along, which introduced advanced slideshow features to XP.

Since then, Microsoft has refined the program in order to keep up with Apple’s iPhoto, resulting in this latest release, which promises much more than ever. Essentially a photo presentation tool, Photo Story lets you drag photos onto a window, arrange them as needed, then provide custom narration, transitions, zooms, pans, audio soundtracks and/or custom auto-generated music and then your WMV file is ready.

photostory.jpgApplying such features can prove tricky in some programs, but not in Photo Story. The fact is, you don’t need to tweak a whole bunch of settings because the program does it for you, automatically generatinges transitions and , zoom/pans without you having to set it up yourself. What’s more, the ones generated by default look great.

While you can simply sit back and let the program do everything for you, there’s still plenty you can play around with if you’re feeling adventurous. For instance, you can build your own custom soundtracks for your slideshow. You can pick from a bumper range of music genres, tempos, instruments and effects, giving you the chance to match the audio precisely to the mood of your show.

Output from the SW isprogam is in Microsoft’s WMV files format and they compress more than straight MPEGs or other movie type files. You can choose from various resolutions in order to optimise your slideshow. Unfortunately, however, the output movies from the software are not as sharp as they’d be in VCD or DVD format. It’s also a shame that Photo Story doesn’t support burning DVDs and VCDs with the created slideshow, and you’ll need your own DVD authoring app to do this. There are applications, such as ProShow, that contain burning options and support for higher resolution output, but there’s not much that can match Photo Story in terms of its ease of use and automated features.

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