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With the multitude of photo editing and enhancing programs available, choosing the right one can seem daunting. The first question to ask is how involved in the editing you want to be. Do you want great control over your photos? Or do you prefer to do some simple editing, add a quick frame or effect, or type a few words? If the latter option sounds appealing to you, you might want to check out the trial download of Photo Art Studio (various pricing, 30-day free trial).
Photo Art Studio has a very simple, easy to navigate interface. Its basic editing is limited to sliders for brightness, contrast, saturation, tint, color balance and rotation, plus a crop tool. However, the bulk of the program is devoted to effects, frames and type, plus templates for fun layouts. For the most part, the frames are the strongest feature, with some attractive and polished-looking standouts. The templates are predesigned (and uneditable) layouts for postcards and collages, which have placeholders into which your selected photo is dropped.
Photo Art Studio's strongest suit is also its greatest limitation: its simplicity and lack of sophistication. For instance, when a collage's placeholder for your photo is slanted, such as one in which it is supposed to be a print on a desk, there's no tool for slanting the photo proportionately, to make it look as though it is lying flat on the desk. All you can do is resize your picture and hope for the best. On the other hand, you can rotate a photo to fit a tilted placeholder, but you have to do it before applying the template in the separate Edit Module, guessing the amount of rotation you'll want. If you click on the rotation tool after applying a template, you'll lose the template. Another irritation is that the only Undo available is to be able to cancel the current action or effect, before it is applied. If you want to undo any applied effects, the only option is to revert to your original photo and start over again.
Don't get us wrong. Photo Art Studio is a fun little program. If you don't ask too much of the software, you can end up with useable, even charming pictures and cards for sharing and printing. Beginners will probably enjoy playing with it, as they learn how to handle their digital photos. However, we predict that most users will outgrow the program sooner rather than later. At that time, you might want to consider moving up to a full imaging program such as Photoshop Elements, and/or a framing plug-in, such as OnOne Photo Frame.
Note: This software is available in several different licenses for different users: $39 for a personal license for private non-commercial use on one computer, $59 for a family license for private, non-commercial use on up to 3 computers, and $189 for business use on unlimited computers.