NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article
Photo Recall Deluxe 2.0 from G&A Imaging
by Doug MacDonald, co-President, October 98
(click to email author)

Photo Recall Deluxe Version 2.0 is an image management system that allows the user to categorize, store, manipulate, and present graphics files in a variety of ways. It is, in essence, a database management system with some useful utilities specifically oriented toward graphics classification, storage, and recall. The system supports all of the major graphic formats in use today: JPG, TIF, GIF, BMP, TGA, FPX, PNG, PCX, PCD, EXF, PSD, EPS, WMF, AWD, MSP, RAS, MAC, IMG, ICA, CAL, ICO, and CUR.

The essence of the product is a "bookcase" motif. The two primary divisions of the product are libraries, which contain photo albums. A bookcase contains multi-shelf libraries that contain digital photo (or other graphic) albums. The library:

* Loads images from hardware devices such as digital cameras or scanners;

* Searches for images on computer drives, the Internet, or in other Photo Recall albums;

* Allows you to protect specific photo albums with read only privileges;

* Permits archive and restoration of individual albums;

* Lets you create sound-enabled slide shows based on album contents;

* Can be duplicated.

The photo album system is integrated into the library. With the album, you can:

* Display images in different layout formats, including thumbnail strips, multiple thumbnails, medium sized images, or single images on a page;

* Use hardware devices such as scanners or digital cameras as sources for your graphics;

* Search your system's drives, the Internet, or other Photo Recall albums for specific pictures;

* Buy images from Internet sources such as Kodak's PhotoNet(tm) and PowerPics(tm);

* Attach sound files to your images;

* Create customizable data fields so that you can search, sort, and catalog images in accordance with your specific needs and requirements;

* Print albums using several different page layouts, including or excluding the data fields you have created for graphic classification;

* Create slide shows containing sound, narration, or music backgrounds;

* Sort album images by any of your data fields in either ascending or descending order

* Archive and restore albums;

* Create Portable Player files that contain audio files as backgrounds;

* Batch export album images to other file formats or applications as needed;

* Publish your images to the web in album format;

* Use email to send album images to others;

* Select individual images for use as your own personal wallpaper background for your desktop;

* Open albums in the integrated Photo Recall Deluxe Darkroom application or in any other graphic manipulation program of your choice.

There are two utility programs included with Photo Recall Deluxe: Darkroom and Utility Room. The darkroom application provides limited image editing capability that includes cropping and resizing; adjusting brightness, contrast, and focus; removing "red eye;" and applying some specialized effects such as mapping your image to a sphere or cylindrical background. The Utility Room contains several database management utilities that allow you to compact, repair, backup, and restore your image files.

Unfortunately, the user's manual that comes with the product is not very detailed. It advertises itself as only an "introduction to the concepts around which Photo Recall Deluxe is built." Although there is a reasonable online help system, I suspect the average user will need more information than is readily available about how to use the software efficiently and effectively. As one who has designed and built a couple of commercial graphic and literary filing and tracking databases, there is a lot involved in setting up an orderly and practical image management system. Photo Recall Deluxe has all of the tools most people would need to do this, but a new user will have to "play" with the system for some time to realize its potential. They will then have to sit down and carefully "think out" exactly what they need in the way of categories and filing criteria. Once they go through this necessary step, Photo Recall Deluxe will probably do what they want it to do.

The Darkroom facility meets basic editing requirements, but will probably not satisfy a user who has need of a full-featured graphics editing program. The resizing algorithms are less robust, and therefore less effective, than those available in professional graphics packages such as Adobe Photo Shop or the excellent shareware program Paint Shop Pro. The "red eye" correction routine is useful and appears to work, but there are other ways of accomplishing the same effects. As with resizing, the color, contrast, and brightness correction routines are adequate, but there are much better ones available. Having said all of this, Photo Recall Deluxe will let you tie directly into a professional graphics editing suite if you have that available.

The Utility Room capabilities are a necessary adjunct to maintaining an efficient database. The basic database engine for Photo Recall Deluxe is Microsoft Access. When files are moved around, edited, changed, etc., the database can get quite fragmented and therefore becomes both very large and inefficient. Compacting the database restores it to an efficient size and frees up excess hard disk space. Graphics files are, unfortunately, often quite large; databases containing them can likewise become very large if they are not frequently "tuned." The Utility Room tools work well for this purpose, but explanations of what is actually going on are a little slim.

In summary, Photo Recall Deluxe works well and performs all the functions it claims to perform. At a suggested retail price of $49.95 (US) it is a reasonable value. Users of Photo Recall 1.0 may upgrade to Photo Recall Deluxe for $29.95 (US) by contacting G&A Imaging at their offices in Quebec, Canada. [Web Page: www.ga.imaging.com] Photo Recall Deluxe is a good program for individuals wanting to catalog and to display family pictures, vacations, etc. While the application has the physical capacity to meet the needs of the serious amateur photographer, genealogical worker, graphic designer, or small business photographer, the internal database structure may not be flexible enough for their needs. As indicated before, the program takes some dedicated use and careful planning to design an archiving and image management system that will meet all of a user's particular requirements.

Click here to return to top