We recently coveredPhotosites - Revenue and BusinessModels where we covered the wired magazines review of various photosites. David Pogue writes, Digital darkrooms make working with shots a snap - In 2004, Kodak stopped making film cameras and the year that digital cameras were even more popular holiday gifts than DVD players. And if this month is any indication, 2005 will be the Year of the Software to Organize the Pictures You Took With Your Digital Camera. Excerpts with edits:
This week,two companies are releasing new versions of popular photo-organizing programs: from Apple comes iPhoto 5 for the Macintosh. And from Google, comes Picasa 2, for Windows 98 and later versions. These programs are very similar in design, features, visual effects and a bend-over-backward effort to keep things simple.
IPhoto is part of Apple's new iLife '05 suite, which also includes iMovie (for video editing), GarageBand (recording studio in a box), iDVD (designing DVD menu screens and burning discs) and iTunes (a music jukebox, which is still a free download). The whole package costs $80 (even if, alas, you bought the previous version). ILife also comes free with every new Mac. Picasa 2, on the other hand, is completely free, downloadable from www.picasa.com. Iphoto and Picasa are elegant, visual, nearly effortless programs. The photos appear like slides on a giant scrolling light table, at any size you like. Both programs handle every conceivable photo file format.
You double-click on a photo to edit it, and to find out where the programmers have been putting much of their effort. Both programs let you turn photos into slide shows or desktop pictures, export them as Web-page galleries, send them in scaled-down form by e-mail, order prints by mail, and so on. Picasa's sharing tools go the extra mile by providing tight integration with Google's other recent software acquisitions, like Blogger (a Web-log kit) and Hello (instant photo sharing). And Picasa lets you order your prints from a choice of companies (Kodak, Wal-Mart and so on). IPhoto 5, on the other hand, expands what was already a blockbuster feature: the ability to design and order a gorgeous, hardbound coffee-table gift book with just a couple of clicks ($30 for 20 pages). You can specify double-sided pages, softcover books and a choice of three sizes. For example, the little wallet-size booklets (3.5 by 2.6 inches, or 9 by 6.5 centimeters; $12 for a matching set of three) are fun to carry around, give as party favors or drop in the mail.
Picasa's standout features are its simplicity, smoothness and speed. Whereas iPhoto 5 can accommodate about 20,000 photos per library before it starts bogging down, Picasa handily juggles 250,000 photos without breaking a sweat. Now, Picasa 2 and iPhoto 5 do not really compete with each other, since each requires a different operating system. Adobe, whose Photoshop Elements 3.0 (for Mac and Windows) is only a few months old. It, too, is a terrific piece of software, but it is much bigger, more powerful and more complex; in addition to all the iPhoto-Picasa-type features, it can do things like keep track of offline photos (those on your CDs, not on the computer), superimpose text on your photos, stitch together pictures into a panorama, and so on.