The digital age means digital photos and videos. Your Mac is haven for digital slide show and photo presentation utilities.
Are there so many such photo tools on the Mac that they could be worth a dime a dozen?
Yes, but it depends on what you want to do and how much you’re willing to spend to get there, as the price tag and feature set of such tools varies greatly.
For example, assuming you’ve purchased a Mac in recent years, you have iPhoto and it’s populated with a number of your digital photos. How do you make a slide show to share, or a presentation to show off your photo ability?
iPhoto makes it a snap. Create an album, drag in your favorite photos, click Slideshow in the bottom tool bar, add some music or effects, add a transition, adjust the color, even toss in a Ken Burns motion effect. Easy. Free.
Export the slideshow to a QuickTime movie for distribution to friends, neighbors, or the web. To Easy and Free, add Quick and Professional. Mostly.
While the Mac has many and sundry photo manipulation applications, even more slideshow tools, and some that combine other features, few are free, the good ones cost plenty, and most do about the same thing. Photo shows.
Enter PhotoPresenter and uAlbum to be added to the ‘get what you pay for’ category of digital slide shows. Both do a few things differently than iPhoto, both are inexpensive, both leave you wanting more.
$8 gets you a simple utility that plugs into your iPhoto photo albums. In PhotoPresenter, select an album of photos (you have to set them up in iPhoto first), then select either a standard slideshow or an animated slide show.
Once you try this out, you’re likely to wonder what the $8 bought you, as there isn’t much difference in the results you get with iPhoto—except iPhoto is free and does more.
PhotoPresenter also has an animated slideshow option which lets you add transitions which look like Flash. These are attractive and not something available in iPhoto.
There are a bunch of different styles from which to choose—floating albums, floating cubes, floating tiles, and a bunch more which show off the various and sundry ways to throw photos together in a show.
The finished slideshow can be exported in a variety of formats, all QuickTime based, for iPod, iWeb, iDVD, and as a screensaver. For $8 you should not expect much more than what you get from iPhoto and you won’t be disappointed.
Not only does iPhoto create presentations, slideshows, from your photos, it also acts as your photo browser. Duh.
uAlbum is a photo browser, too. It also creates slideshows. It’s 25-percent more expensive than PhotoPresenter, which does not act as a photo browser.
What do you get for $10? An exercise in futility and a better understanding of the value of money. uAlbum is looking for a niche set of features that don’t show up in many Mac photo utilities. The road less traveled is often less traveled for a reason.
The left column of uAlbum displays all the folders in your home directory, so if you’ve exported photos from iPhoto to a directory, you can navigate to them. There’s no so-called iMedia browser.
Once you’ve browsed to a folder with photos, they show up on a row in the top right side of uAlbum, similar to a slideshow in iPhoto. From there uAlbum presents you with a few tools—rotate, flip, view comments and EXIF info, mark, append, and so on. There are no tools to modify colors, as in iPhoto.
After you ask yourself “why?” then you’ll be asking “why this for $10?” uAlbum bills itself as a “Photo browser with 4 pains (sic) included a folder list, thumbnails. comment and image…” Trust me. There are more than 4 pains.
iPhoto may not be the best photo browser or photo manipulation tool you can buy, but it’s very good at the basics—store photos, make quick changes, export in a variety of methods and formats. It’s also free with each new Mac, and not expensive as part of iLife (insert whatever year here).
To compete with the likes of iPhoto, Mac developers have to do what iPhoto doesn’t, or do what iPhoto does but do it much better, and at a competitive price. PhotoPresenter does a few things different than iPhoto for $8. uAlbum doesn’t do much at all for $10.
By including iPhoto with iLife and each Mac, Apple raises the feature stakes. Other Mac utilities have a baseline requirement to meet and exceed. Mac users can quickly figure out which utilities and tools are worthy and which are not.
Your mileage may vary, but I’m saving my mileage by avoiding both PhotoPresenter and uAlbum.
Do you have a favorite photo slideshow utility? Share your experience with other readers in the Comments section below.