The free Picasa will suit most, but superior video support and Facebook integration are reasons to pay for MediaShow 5.
This photo- and video-management program is very similar to the free Picasa, but it justifies its price with additional features such as basic video editing and DVD authoring. Both packages sport slick animated interfaces, but Picasa’s is a little more responsive.
Version 5 introduces uploads to YouTube, Flickr and Facebook, along with one-click fixes such as colour correction and video stabilisation. You can also add animated text to slideshows, but the results can be messy as it displays the text for adjacent slides simultaneously during the transition between them. Also new is this year’s must-have feature, automatic face tagging. You can apply this per photo, folder or the entire collection, which is preferable to Picasa’s insistence on tagging everything.
The face detection was excellent, and near-identical shots were grouped into sets for naming. Most sets comprise a single photo, though, which made tagging thousands of them tedious. When a face appeared for a second time, the software usually suggested the correct name, allowing tagging with a single click. Accuracy fell sharply as we added more names to our library, but it wasn’t hard to pick the right one from a drop-down list.
It’s how these tags are used that really matters. Thankfully, it’s easy to view all photos of a particular person or group. Best of all, uploads to Facebook incorporate the tags, and it even connects them to friends’ profiles. However, as we hadn’t used surnames, some were incorrectly attributed. We had some explaining to do when an ex-colleague was told he was the groom’s father at a wedding, and we didn’t get a chance to correct it before Facebook notified him.
Facebook is the spiritual home of face tagging, and some users spend hours labelling their friends, so the ability to speed this up is welcome. If simple editing of photos and video is on your agenda, too, MediaShow is worth its price premium over Picasa.