Review: Apple iPhoto 1.1.1
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Monday, January 7, 2002
Friday, June 28, 2002
you haven't figured it out already, I'm a Mac nut. I've been one
for over 15 years. I watched the Apple keynote (from home ... thanks
MacWorld for not giving me press access!) waiting for the 2GHz PowerMac
G5 that never happened, but instead got a look at Apple's new iPhoto
software. As a veteran of digital photography, I understand
firsthand the "chain of pain" that Steve Jobs described.
First you've got to get the photos off the memory card. That takes
one program. Editing takes another. And so does cataloguing them.
iPhoto promises to do all that, and more. Best of all, it's free.
The downside (to some): it requires Mac OS X 10.1.2 and I don't
expect a Windows version anytime soon.
first main areas in iPhoto are: Import, Organize, Edit, Book, and
Share. I will cover each of those in turn.
has been updated to cover version 1.1.1. Changes are noted.
are two ways to get photos into iPhoto: from a camera/card reader,
or from your hard disk (if they're already there). Along those lines,
you can also import directly from a Photo CD or Picture CD (new
quite a few cameras, and fewer card readers. My Olympus E-10 worked
great, but my Acomdata Multi-Flash card reader did not.
photos off your camera is super easy. Just plug the camera in via
USB or FireWire, and if it's supported, iPhoto will start up. You
then just hit the import button and they will be downloaded to your
computer. If you wish, you can have the software delete the photos
from the camera after they are downloaded.
reader pointed out something that I didn't even think of. With iPhoto,
you must import all photos from the camera. Even with the basic
Image Capture software built into OS X, you can choose which photos
to import before you copy. Not so in iPhoto -- hopefully they will
add this ability in a future version.
I mentioned, you can import graphics that are already on your hard
disk via the file menu. You can also drag photos from the Finder
into iPhoto -- if you have subfolders, the hierarchy will be maintained
(new in 1.1.1).
import session is equated to a "roll" of film by iPhoto.
This comes in handy for organizing photos as well. Speaking of which....
is probably the section of iPhoto where you'll probably spend the
most time. The interface is reminiscent of Apple's excellent iTunes
software. The "songs" are on the right, and the "playlists"
are on the left.
main organize screen, showing tons of thumbnails
shot above shows the whole organize window, with tons of thumbnails.
Using a slider control (lower right), you can change the size of
the thumbnails so you can see a lot of photos on one page, or just
readers wrote in saying that iPhoto really starts to slow down when
you have many photos (thousands) imported. It can also really eat
up your hard disk space.
can see how the thumbnails are divided into "rolls of film".
You can edit the name of the "roll" (new in 1.1.1),
or create an album which ends up on the list on the left side.
you click on each thumbnail, the Title (Roll # - Photo #) is shown,
with the date and time it was taken, the resolution, and the file
size. You can rename the photo easily, and assign a keyword to it
(bottom of screen shot). You can assign a photo more than one keyword,
and you can create whatever keywords that you wish.
four buttons under the photo info (lower left) are:
Info (no info / info / info + comments)
clicking and dragging, you can select a number of photos, and move
them to an album, start a Slide Show, or print them.
thumbnails per page - this isn't a building fire, it's fireworks
from a distance
I mentioned, you can create photo albums which helps you better
organize your photos. Here's one I created with some Disneyland
have named my photos, which makes them easy to store. Here you can
easily print them, or edit them by double-clicking. I should add
that you don't have to use iPhoto for editing -- using the Preferences
you can choose another application, such as Photoshop 7.
wanted to talk briefly about file storage, and what happens to your
images after you edit them.
are stored in ~/Pictures/iPhoto Library on your Mac OS X drive.
Starting with version 1.1.1, your original filenames are kept (not
show in the screen shot above). If you already had images in the
photo library, their names will not be changed.
to Julian Koh for connecting the dots for me regarding file structure.
The folder shown above break the photos down by date. Thus, the
files on the far right were taken November 16, 2001. I hope this
does keep your original photos intact. You can revert to
the original image at any time. Since it's doing this, your photos
will start to take up more and more disk space. Plus, for each image,
at least two other files (containing Metadata, it looks like) are
created, though these are small.
for 1.1.1: While the original version of iPhoto often threw
out EXIF data, the latest version not only keeps it, it lets you
view it. Even if you edit or rotate the image, the data is intact.
offers easy, basic photo editing that's just right for Joe Consumer.
It's no Photoshop, but I mentioned that you can use other programs
for this section, if you wish.
for 1.1.1: The five basic features in Edit mode are:
time you click rotate (which is no longer a button on the bottom
- you use the same button as in organize mode), the image will turn
90 degrees counterclockwise. You can use the menus, or a keyboard
shortcut to do this as well (or go clockwise). Unlike with Mac OS
X's Image Capture application, it seems that this is lossless image
rotating -- the file sizes were actually larger after rotating some
crop feature is fairly self-explanatory. You click and drag to select
the area you want to save, and the grayed-out area is tossed. Want
to constrain the proportions of the crop "window"? Just
pick a ratio in the constrain menu (lower left). This helps you
get just what you want in your prints.
brightness and contrast adjustments are new in 1.1.1, and welcomed.
Just drag the sliders until you're happy with the results.
show off the redeye reduction feature, I went back and grabbed this
classic (and rather demonic) shot of my dad from the Coolpix 990
review. As you may remember, this camera was notorious for redeye.
use this feature in iPhoto, you select the area you want to fix
(not the whole picture-- it affects all reds!) and hit the button.
You can see the before and after results above... not bad!
often write "does anyone sell a camera that records in black
& white?" While the answer is "some do", you
can do the same thing in software. In iPhoto, you need only hit
the button and the image is quickly changed into black and white.
you screw up and want to undo, that's no problem. You can even revert
to the original imported image, as iPhoto saves it.
for 1.1.1: While it's nice to see the brightness and contrast
adjustments arrive, how about a sharpen filter or a "one touch"
photo improvement button like some other programs?
last thing I will mention is that slider bar again -- in organize
mode it let you change the size of the thumbnails. Here, it will
zoom into the image you are editing.
iPhoto, you can create a printed book of your photos. You can print
it yourself, or order one via the software. If you do that, it will
cost you $30 for 10 pages, plus $3 for each additional page. What
do you get for your money?
9 x 11.25" layout design
"elegant linen cover in your choice of colors" (black,
burgundy, light gray, navy)
are six layouts to choose from :
can see samples of some of these, as well as mockups of the final
results on this
page. Here's something I put together (as a test), in Storybook
page (1 image)
out these books is pretty easy, but a bit frustrating as well. Aside
from changing the layout and the number of photos per page, that's
all you can do. You can't move things around, and you can't create
your own layouts. I couldn't get the font feature to work, either.
On the cover page (above), I tried typing on the line below, and
I got a warning symbol since it wasn't going to fit. I thought,
OK, let's just change the font size. No matter how hard I tried,
it wouldn't work.
a book -- this is the Portfolio layout -- looks cool.
editing a book, it can be hard to see the text captions. But that's
not a problem, as iPhoto will actually zoom in on the text when
you select it, and zoom back out when you're done.
think with a few fixes here and there, this will be a real nice
feature -- and a nice holiday gift. I'd love to see the actual results
of my experiment, but I'm not about to fork out $30 for it. Maybe
some kindhearted Apple employee will give me a free one?
few days after I wrote this review, I decided to actually order
a book. So I put some Hawaii photos into a Picture Book and ordered.
It arrived about a week later via USPS Priority Mail. A few days
before I got my book, I read an email from a reader with interest.
dithering is poor. Gradients are not smooth. There is visible
"banding" in the sky."
that time I was very interested to see what I'd get. So I printed
out some pages from my trusty Epson Stylus Photo 1270 and awaited
the arrival of the book. When it came, our reader was dead on. I
expect excellent quality for $30, and it's pretty mediocre. A source
who is in the printing industry thinks these were printed on some
kind of digital press -- perhaps and Indigo. He said these are not
great for photos, and that horizontal and vertical banding is common.
should be able to see the horizontal banding in the sky, and the
vertical banding in the water.
the same print from the Epson. Note the cloud on the right that
disappears in the Book print. Also, no banding to speak of. Full
size scans are below.
only did I notice the banding, but there was even some loss of detail.
As you compare my examples below, note how the sunset photo in the
book is missing some of the clouds that were in the Epson print
(or they are very faded -- and not just in my scans). In my humble
opinion, the Epson printer (similar models cost just $99) ran circles
around the iPhoto books.
my sort-of evidence. These are straight from my scanner, and while
not perfect, I think you can see the difference. These were scanned
on a Umax Astra 1220U. The Epson prints used Glossy Photo Paper.
is the real heart of iPhoto. Here you can print and share your photos
via several media. They include:
(new in 1.1.1)
(new in 1.1.1)
Saver (new in 1.1.1)
has come up with a simple, universal print driver for iPhoto.
just pick your printer, set up margins and print layout (called
style here), and begin. You can choose paper size via the usual
Page Setup menu. I was a bit worried at first, because I didn't
see an option to print on the Epson 4x6 paper that I have, but I
found it there.
all printers are supported yet. Some may appear to be, but they
won't print anything.
"presets" you can choose from include Plain paper, Photo
paper, and Matte paper. There is a "fine" quality option
for each type.
styles available include contact sheets, full-size prints, greeting
cards (2 or 4-fold style), and standard prints (4x6, 5x7, 8x10).
DCRP reader has revealed how to get more than one print on a page.
First, select the photos you want to print, and hit the print button.
Then, hit the Advanced Options button. Pull down the menu that probably
says "Copies & Pages" and choose Layout. You will
be presented with this dialog:
how many photos you want per page, and hit print. Don't worry if
the Print Preview doesn't show it correctly-- it does print as you
color is kept accurate through the whole process by Apple's ColorSync
got awfully excited about this during the keynote, and I'm not sure
why. It does the same thing as every other slide show on earth,
except you can have background music. iPhoto comes with two songs,
and you can add your own if you'd like. I guess it's cool to add
atmosphere. You can choose the transition time between slides, and
whether or not it repeats when finished. The transitions are very
(new in 1.1.1)
you use Apple's Mail program for e-mail, you can hit this button
to resize the selected photos and put them in a new e-mail message.
can choose from four sizes of photos - small (320 x 240), medium
(640 x 480), large (1280 x 960), and full size. You may not want
to use the last one, as the files will be huge!
can also include the photo titles and any comments you've recorded
sent as part of the e-mail.
wish: support for other e-mail programs, like Microsoft Entourage!
(Note: you can do this via a hack which is listed towards the end
of the review).
of the nicer, more exciting features in my opinion is the ability
to order prints from within iPhoto. You just hit the button, and
assuming you have an Apple ID and One-Touch Shopping turned on,
you can quickly order prints from Kodak (apparently Ofoto actually
fulfills the orders -- they are owned by Kodak).
can do a "bulk order" of prints -- if you want 4x6's of
all the photos, you use the box at the top right. Or, you can specify
what size prints and how many you want for each individual photo.
you don't need to wonder anymore about how big you can print. As
you can see in the fourth photo, if a photo isn't high res enough
to print, iPhoto will let you know with that warning symbol.
can choose where to send your photos, and whether its send standard
thing to note -- you get 10 free 4x6 prints when you sign up, and
you only pay shipping.
imagine these prints will be just like the ones from Ofoto and places
like that -- meaning they'll be real nice. You can get huge 20 x
30 prints if you'd like, for $20.
you don't live in the US (not sure about Canada), you cannot order
photos or books at this time.
already described the bookmaking process before, so here's just
a quick glimpse at the order form:
software will warn you if you have fewer than 10 pages (which are
included in the $30 fee) or have images too low resolution to print
people asked me if they can print out their own books, and the answer
is yes. I did it myself. Obviously they won't be bound and full-bleed,
but it's free.
thing I've learned is that Kodak/Ofoto does not make these
books -- they only do the photos.
HomePage function lets you create, in a limited way, a photo gallery.
The limitations are many: it must be hosted on mac.com. You have
to live with their layouts. And there are character limits for captions.
a homepage is easy enough. You select the photos you want, hit the
button, and you can choose the frames, and destination (again, you
must be an iTools user for this to work). Just hit publish and they'll
be uploaded. Here
is a sample for your enjoyment.
frustration: you can't edit them once they are up. If you screw
up and need to fix a typo, the whole thing has to be uploaded again,
or you need to log in to iTools and change it there.
doing that, I learned two other things: the caption text limit is
imposed by iPhoto, not iTools -- you can make longer ones if you
log in. Also, you can add a hit counter to each page in iTools.
(new in 1.1.1)
button is pretty easy to understand. Pick your favorite photo, press
the button, and that photo is now your desktop background.
Saver (new in 1.1.1)
screen saver button will take one or all of your photo albums, and
turn them into a photo screen saver that runs whenever your Mac
is idle. It uses the screen saver that is built into Mac OS X.
there is the export option. Here, you can export your images to
another folder, create a webpage (that is not hosted on mac.com),
or create a QuickTime movie slide show.
"file export" option will save all your images wherever
you choose, either at full size, or at a maximum size of your choose.
Here, the software will recompress the photos it exports -- aggressively.
It would be nice to have some control over how much JPEG compression
is applied to images. You can save in TIFF or PNG format, as well.
page export will build a gallery, similar to what Image Capture
already does. You can then upload the folder to your regular web
for 1.1.1: QuickTime export is nice -- an easy way to share
Slide Shows online without lots of clicking. Your options are fairly
limited, but it works fine and the results are good. A new feature
in 1.1.1 is the ability to add music to the movie. The software
uses the same song currently selected for your slide show.
a look at this new sample movie, with
has released several AppleScripts
which add-on new features to iPhoto. Some of these were made obsolete
with v 1.1.1. The remaining useful scripts include:
Image File Drag an image from the iPhoto window onto this
droplet to reveal its source file in the Finder.
Audio Card Combine the power of AppleScript, iPhoto, iTunes,
and QuickTime to create interesting audio cards! Select a track
in iTunes, then drag a single image from the iPhoto window onto
this droplet. The two elements, the MP3 audio file and iPhoto
image, will be combined in the QuickTime Player to produce a movie!
Double-click the droplet to set preferences for the card width.
thing that I thought of that will most likely appear in a future
version of iPhoto is the ability to put photos on CD or DVD. You
could either archive them, or create a DVD (of course you can use
iDVD for that). The former would be nice, as the photos really take
up a lot of space on the hard disk now.
6/27/02: There are a number of third party extensions to iPhoto
as well, including:
iPhoto is a very impressive effort, and a great tool for beginning
and intermediate digital photographers. Apple has done a good job
of listening to customers and reviewers alike, and version 1.1.1
offers some much needed improvements. Other software makers have
been paying attention to iPhoto, as their software is starting to
look pretty similar!
improvements could I ask for? Sharpening and one-touch image repair.
CD/DVD photo archiving. I'd also like to see more robust performance
when your library gets large (which doesn't take long).
imagine that Apple will continue to improve iPhoto in the months
ahead, and I'll keep updating this review as they do so!