Ottawa PC Users' Group, Inc.
 Product Review 


Corel Snapfire Plus
by Morris Turpin

Let me say right up front that I do not own a digital camera so I don’t have a need for a heavy-duty photo manipulation program, but having said that, I do regularly handle images that I scan myself or receive via email.

When Evelyn Watts of Corel demonstrated Snapfire Plus at our March meeting she hit on one feature that I knew would be incredibly useful: the ability to easily straighten up images. Anyone who has worked on a scanned image knows that it doesn’t always come out straight no matter how much care you take to position the original. In my experience, scanned images coming from other people only tend to be worse. Watching Evelyn’s demo I was intrigued, very intrigued.

So, how does it work? In short, very well. Clicking on “Straighten” in the Menu Bar puts a horizontal line on the image you’re working on with “grab-bars” on the each end. Grab and drag these bars so that the line between them is on what you want to be the horizontal plane, click on the Apply button and bang, it’s done. The image rotates so that the line you set is horizontal. You can also drag the line to the vertical plane if your image has vertical references that you prefer to use. Believe me; it takes less time to do it than to explain the process.


Of course Snapfire offers more than just an automatic straightening feature. Quick Fix analyzes and adjusts a number of parameters to optimize your image. In my experience I found that it worked well about 7 or 8 times out of 10. By that I mean that I couldn’t do a better job manually than Quick Fix did. For those times it didn’t work the Undo button quickly restored the original image.

The Photo Fix menu allows manual control of brightness, contrast, warmth, saturation and focus. I’ve found that the focus setting is particularly useful with jpeg images which can tend to get a little blurry.


Fixing red eye is pretty straightforward. Selecting this option from the menu changes the cursor to a circle. You must adjust the size of this circle to suit your image, then it’s as simple as point and click.

 


The Makeover menu allows you to make cosmetic changes to your subject. You can fix blemishes, whiten teeth and even add a suntan. Other features let you embellish your images with the Picture Tube tool, choose a picture frame from dozens of different styles, add text to your pictures or change your photos to either black and white or sepia.

 

 

 

The cropping tool has a nice feature; in addition to allowing “free form” that I’m used to, it allows you to set the final size you want with several fixed sizes ranging from 3x4 in. to 8x10 in. Selecting the cropping tool creates a box over your image that you drag around until you get the result you’re looking for. Click on Apply and you’re done.

Other Snapfire features that I haven’t used are the ability to create slideshows and share these via email. It can also create videos from your pictures and video clips through the use of a downloadable add-on called the “muvee autoProducer” and includes a link for a free trial. Owners of digital video cameras may want to give this a try.

There is no printed documentation provided with Snapfire Plus, but it does come with an extensive help file. In fact, all the images in this article were copied from the help file. The only complaint I have with the program is that the font used in the help file is difficult to read with my 1280x1024 screen resolution. Changing my screen resolution to 1024x768 didn’t help. The option is provided to print the entire file, the selected topic or the selected heading and all subtopics. Checking the Corel website I see that Snapfire version 2.0 has been released (I’m reviewing version 1.2). Looking at the Snapfire 2.0 Release Notes I see that all the comments I’ve made here will refer to rev 2.0 as well.

So, what do I like best about this program? Well, certainly the straighten tool but I also like and use Quick Fix and Photo Fix; specifically the Focus tool. These tools are invaluable with either scanned images or cell-phone photos. I also like its ability to add text to an image.


Bottom Line:

Snapfire is available as a free download from Corel (http://www.snapfire.com). Snapfire is a “reduced feature set” of Snapfire Plus and leaves out a number of the more desirable functions (like the straighten feature) but it does allow you to try out many of its features for free

Snapfire Plus (the commercial version) sells for $60 locally but for some reason sells for $40 at FutureShop. It is also available directly from Corel for the club price of US $40 plus shipping.


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