Hmmm, I think I really messed up this weekend, but it has nothing to do with alcohol or making a fool of myself for whatever reason you may think of – none of these didn’t happen for quite a long time and nothing happened this weekend, either. It’s just the fact that I could have taken some nice photos these days but the problem was that I was here or there, while my camera was at home, so…
… at least I can somehow get my revenge now and talk about an excellent tool that’s able to help its users organize, edit/view their image files but this is only the beginning, since there’s much more to Ashampoo Photo Commander 8.4 than meets the eye, trust me!
Ashampoo Photo Commander 8.40 arrived in early December, 2010, but it still feels really fresh, there’s no doubt about it! Priced at $49.99, this program can also be used as a fully-featured trial version for as long as 10 days, a period that can be easily extended to 30 days by simply subscribingo to Ashampoo for free. That’s quite a deal, don’t you think?
When compared to the average image viewer, this program needs a lot of disk space, but it’s also something you should keep in mind here – Ashampoo Photo Commander is much more than your average image viewer, as we’re going to see a bit later. With a setup package as large as almost 102 MB, there’s no surprise that my Ashampoo Photo Commander 8 folder has 115 MB in size. To be honest, I expected it to be even larger…
… but let’s move to the next part of this, shall we? Obviously, first we have to add a few things here – Ashampoo Photo Commander 8.40 works with Windows XP/Vista/7 and, while installing it is really easy, you should be careful not to install that damn Ashampoo Toolbar and have your default homepage/default search settings changed. Other than this, there’s no problem with the setup part, since it’s all about pressing a few buttons and starting up this piece of code, so let’s get to it, shall we?
Ashampoo Photo Commander 8.40 looks very good, it even comes with two skins (this is pretty sad, I’d really like to have at least ten times as many to choose from), working with it is, in most cases, easy enough, but I noticed some inconsistencies in its interface, since not all the wizards looks the same, for example. Fortunately, its solid documentation and excellent multilanguage support will surely make Ashampoo Photo Commander really friendly to people who would consider it a nightmare if not for these two details. These being said, I think the right time has come to check some of those features, just as usual, but let me tell you one more thing before moving on: don’t even dare to dream we’ll uncover Ashampoo Photo Commander’s features below, because we’ll barely scratch the surface, nothing more!
I wasn’t born yesterday and I’ve been using Windows/Linux/Mac OS X/Android software for quite a while but, if I had to compress this entire part of the article into a single word, that word would surely be “overwhelming” and it’s not happening just to justify those five stars Ashampoo Photo Commander 8.4 gets today, trust me!
As soon as you start the program for the first time, you get to face the nag screen and the Welcome Wizard. There’s nothing really special about any of them, so let’s get to the more important startup screen (not pictured below the article, sorry, but there’s nothing really special to see, either – it’s more about the things to do!) that’s asking you a really simple question with a less simple answer. The question is “What do you want to do?” and the answers are six in number, namely View/Organize Photos/Videos, Edit an Image, Scan an Image, Create…, Capture a Window/Desktop and, finally, Organize.
Fortunately, there’s no need to talk about each of the tasks mentioned above, since all of them can be found inside the main window of the program or, in worst case, you can access them via a menu and get the jobe done thanks to a wizard. I say “in worst case” because there are also some straightfoward ways of doing things, for example by simply pressing a button from a toolbar and nothing more.
Let’s suppose that you chose to View/Organize Photos/Videos and you just entered the main Ashampoo Photo Commander 8.4 window. What’s here to see? Oh… there’s a lot to be seen here, but you need to keep your head clear and start with something easy. For example, browse to an image folder and then check the available views you can use (go to the View menu and then View Style of Browser to see the choices at your disposal) – my favorite is the Filmstrip mode.
While the step above is only a small one, you should go ahead and mess with the images at your disposal – double click one image from the browser window, then take a closer look at the Quick-Fix options you can use. In the Quick-Fix screen, you can go with a one-click optimization, adjust contrast or colors, remove that silly red eye effect or pick one of those many effects available, such as pixelize, radial blur, sepia, solarize and a bunch of other ones. This may not be Photoshop, but it’s clearly something worth checking out…
… especially since the Edit screen allows you to do some extra damage to the poor image you opened, by allowing you to draw various shapes, insert images from other files or various objects (a bunch of them come with the program, so no need to go online to look for a hat or a pair of glasses, for example), add text and so on. As I was saying earlier, this is not Photoshop, but it’s surely enough for a lot of people who don’t need the extra juice offered by high-end image editing programs. Sweet!
Next to Edit, we have Create and this is where the madness gets unleashed. I won’t tell you anything except the names of the tools accessible via the toolbar, since all of them are very easy to use, wizard-driven and with enough options to keep most users happy: Slide Show, HTML Album, Calendar, Collage, Panorama, Frame/Card, Contact Sheet, Photo Mix, TIF Multi-Page. These tools alone are worth the price of the entire program and the time needed to download it and take it for a spin!
In case you thought this is over, let me tell you you’re wrong – the Organize area allows you to batch process your images, send them via email, burn them to CD/DVD, find duplicates and then some, but I won’t ruin your fun – you only believe to trust me when I say that we have a program worth checking out and that’s all. In the end, you can always get back here and drop a comment full of curses if you conclude that trying Ashampoo Photo Commander 8.4 was a waste of time – I promise such comments will be published, as long as you also come with some reasons for your opinions. All right? Good, let’s go to the final parts of the review, then!
Tips & Tricks
1. When scanning for duplicates, if you go with the slow search method, you’d better launch the process before going to sleep, since it can easily take a few hours for a moderate amount of files (when I say “moderate,” I think of 30-40k at least).
2. In case you’re wondering, there’s no “Upload to Facebook” feature available yet…
3. More than just messing with images, Ashampoo Photo Commander can also play movies or music, but don’t expect it to beat your specialized audio player, because it won’t.
Ashampoo Photo Commander 8.4 looks very good, offers support for most multimedia formats out there and a really impressive amount of features. Available in a lot of languages, it also comes with solid documentation, a great price and a trial version that looks and feels just like the real thing. Awesome!
I would really like to see the minor inconsistencies I mentioned in the beginning solved and some extra skins available out of the box. Other than these… maybe some speed improvements here and there, a few extra features (support for uploading to sites like Facebook or Flickr and browsing of ZIP archives containing images would be great) and, of course, a free license for the guy writing this review. Am I asking too much? I think not…
… and this is one of the reasons that make me throw no less than five stars at this piece of code: Ashampoo Photo Commander 8.4 is a great program for both what it is and what can (and I’m sure it will) become. Any other words are meaningless – just get the trial, use it for a few hours and, when you feel like taking a break, get back here and tell me how right I am. That’s all, folks!