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In positioning Photoshop as the image-editor for the professional Adobe could have left the greater part - and the burgeoning part - of the market undefended. Their answer is PhotoDeluxe, a project-based program that features many of Photoshop's mainstream effects and functions but under quite different interface.
Like PhotoSuite 4, PhotoDeluxe leads the user through stages of image editing in a very rigorous and precise way. Everything from finding an image, through cropping and applying colour corrections to adding text and effects, is achieved though this stepwise approach.
Additional features, presented in the same way allow your edited images to be used to produce artwork such as cards, calendars or posters. There is a terrific level of detail with some of these. For example, a birthday card can feature a front image, inside images, text on any page and clip-art embellishments. You can even choose which way the card will be folded - portrait or landscape, single or double fold. Depending on the version of PhotoDeluxe, the program includes sets of templates appropriate to family or even business use.
The drawback with this approach is that this detailed work plan can become a hindrance as your skill level increases. After knowing what you do and don't want to do to your images, you no longer need to be taken by the hand. Mindful of this Adobe gives a second operational option, Advanced Menus (or 'On Your Own' in some versions). This lets you loose with all the tools and facilities to do with as you wish, accessible using conventional menus. It's not quite a free-for-all, but can be much quicker, once you know what is on offer.
Useful features (not to be found on Photoshop0 include the one-click fix tools. These help sort out fundamental flaws, such as bad exposure, with a single click. Such tools (also featured in other packages) are great in quickly fixing images without the need to apply several separate (and possibly fiddly) effects.
With regard to web options there's good and bad news. Adobe was one of the first to embrace the web as a source of program extensions. You can connect with the Adobe site and download what Adobe call Connectables, additional templates and features. You can also export the results of your image editing as web-compliant files.
It falls down, though, in not offering the option to optimise images for web use or the option to create web graphics, such as GIF animations or rollovers. If this area of functionality is important, or if your needs extend to creating web pages within the application you need to look elsewhere, such as to Picture Publisher or PhotoImpact.
The option of guided activities or self directed work sets this program apart from those that only offer one or the other. PhotoDeluxe would be the ideal choice for those beginners keen to learn but whose ultimate ambitions are modest. (Note the screen shots featured here may not be identical in all versions).
OVERALL RATING: 7/10
These figures are based on our experience of the respective programs and do not necessarily agree with the manufacturers' recommendations.
Power PC Processor, 24MB RAM
70MB hard disc space
OS 7.6 or later
Pentium II 32MB RAM
150 MB hard disc space (dep on installation)
Windows 98 or later, NT 4