I made the switch from film to digital photography many years ago, and swiftly taught myself how to use simple image processing to make the best of my images. Whilst a few folk still like to suggest that all digital processing is fakery, they are often just woefully ignorant of how significantly one can adjust a printed image in a traditional darkroom. It’s for good reason that image processing is often called the digital darkroom, allowing for similar adjustments in exposure, contrast, shadows and highlights as well as cropping, colour balance and saturation. Having used both, I don’t miss the back ache and slow progress of a traditional darkroom, though I used to enjoy it at the time!
I’ve been using Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom to process my images for years; these days I mostly use Lightroom and open my older version of Photoshop more rarely. Lightroom is currently priced at around £100 for the full version or £60 if upgrading from an earlier version, which I think is a fair price. However, Photoshop pricing has gone through the roof with a full version currently priced at £660 and the upgrade from earlier versions still £188. Both tools are focused on photo editing, and do not offer any graphic design features. For that, you’d need yet another programme, such as Adobe Illustrator. And if you need to throw some professional documents together, there’s a separate desktop publishing programme, InDesign.
When it comes to video editing, I used to struggle along with Windows Movie Editor, but gave up on that some time ago, when it suddenly became incapable of handling multiple clips in one file. As one would expect from a free tool, it was very short on features anyway.
I was recently approached by Magix with the offer of trialling some of their photo editing and video editing tools. To that end, I’ve installed Xara Photo and Graphic Designer (£70) and Movie Edit Pro Plus (£80).
One of the first things to notice about Xara is that it offers photo editing, graphic design functionality, and desktop publishing. I’ve spent just a few hours playing with Xara so far. I will say that, with so much functionality, you will need to invest a fair amount of time in learning how to use it. The help pages are not ideally arranged, and it took me a fair bit of searching through the Help Index and jumping from section to section, to work out even the rudimentary functions. However, this is true of any complex software tool used for similar purposes. There are also a number of tutorials available in the online magazine and video tutorials are often shared over at their Facebook page.
The photo editing offers reasonable functionality, though would not replace something like Lightroom for a serious photographer – one example is the temperature (white balance) control which offers only one slider to cool or warm the image, rather than the usual pair of yellow/ blue and red/ green sliders. It also doesn’t offer batch processing of images, which is essential for large volume processing.
The graphic design tools look good, and there are also lots of design templates which you can use as they are, replacing the holding images with your own. It took me only a few minutes to create the collage above, using a template, pulling in my own images and replacing the text. I’d like a wider range of collage templates, but that’s probably because this is one functionality that doesn’t exist in my Adobe tools. I’ve been using Picasa to create collages but am unhappy with the way Picasa handles files and file locations, so have been looking for an alternative.
I’ve never really used graphic design software, though a clever friend of mine used Xara to transcribe my hand-drawn logo for Mamta’s Kitchen into the image file we currently use as the header for the website. This is an area of Xara I need to explore further going forward, though I’m not very talented in this area.
That leaves Movie Edit Pro, and I’m afraid I’ve been rather lax in this area, and not yet had time to play around with it. However, Pete has some video footage from a recent trip to edit, and he’s going to give Movie Edit Pro a go. The features list looks promising so I’m confident it’ll be a big improvement over the tools we’ve tried before.
Magix are offering both the above products as prizes for a Kavey Eats competition.
The first winner picked will receive a code to download a copy of Xara Photo and Graphic Designer.
The second winner picked will receive a code to download a copy of and Movie Edit Pro Plus.
Please note that these programmes are suitable for Windows users only. Full systems requirements can be found at the Magix.com.
HOW TO ENTER
You can enter the competition in 2 ways:
Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment below, answering the following question:
How do you currently edit your photos or videos?
Entry 2 – Twitter
Follow @KaveyF on twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter!
Then tweet the (exact) sentence below:
I’d love to win @Magix_UK photo or video editing software from Kavey Eats! http://goo.gl/EIPmn #KaveyEatsMagix
RULES & DETAILS
The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 26th October 2012.
Kavey Eats reserves the right to alter the closing date of the competition. Changes to the closing date, if they occur, will be shown on this page.
The winners will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
Prize 1 is a digital download of Magix Xara Photo and Graphic Designer. Prize 2 is a digital download of Magix Movie Edit Pro Plus. Prizes cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
The prizes are offered by Magix.
One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. You do not have to enter both ways for your entries to be valid.
For twitter entries, winners must be following @KaveyF at the time of notification, as this will be sent by Direct Message.
Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contacting the winner.
The winners will be notified by email or twitter (for twitter entries). If no response is received within 7 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.
Kavey Eats received review copies of Xara Photo and Graphic Designer and Movie Edit Pro Plus courtesy of Magix.
This competition is now closed. Winners are MarklesUK (via twitter) and Tori.