/ Technology

We’ve tested camera-bundled software, so is it any good?

Is the photo-editing software that comes bundled with cameras worth the polycarbonate it’s written on? My initial hunch was that it does nothing more than clog up your PC, but what have our tests concluded?

With two thirds of digital camera owning Which? members using the free software that’s supplied with them, we thought we better put them through their paces.

Should we really spend our time installing this bundled software, or should we stick to standalone (often free) photo-editing packages?

Bundled-camera software put to the test

We submitted the camera-bundled software from seven major brands to the same tests we use when reviewing photo-editing software. And since the two aren’t really comparable, we decided not to award any Best Buys or Don’t Buys. The tests did, however, give us a good benchmark.

Samsung’s Intelli-Studio software offered a versatile arsenal of tools that would give many dedicated, paid-for photo-editing software a run for its money. It topped the table, scoring an impressive 68% – a score that would have earned it a Best Buy had we been handing them out.

On the other end of the scale was Sony’s Picture Motion Browser (PMB) which comes bundled with Sony’s Cybershot cameras. It scored a woeful 18% due to serious limitations and a lack of versatility. I’d suggest confining this installation disc to your new digital camera’s box.

Do we need photo-managing software?

The fact that Sony’s PMB is designed to help you manage your photos rather than edit them is a saving grace of sorts. Indeed, our tests concluded that most camera-bundled software is designed for this purpose, rather than the complex picture manipulation that photo-editing software offers.

Still, it’s hard to ignore the fact that all computers let you manage and view your folders without the need for any extra software anyway. If camera-bundled software is only good for such simple tasks, I’m led to the same conclusion as my Conversation back in September – you’re better off downloading a free third-party software package.

And if this software isn’t needed, perhaps it shouldn’t even be included in the box? Like bulky instruction manuals, maybe the software should only be made available when it’s asked for, rather than being included by default? Or would you feel short-changed if you didn’t get a photo-managing software CD bundled with your new digital camera?

Which type of photo editing software do you prefer?

Free software (50%, 147 Votes)

Paid-for software (32%, 94 Votes)

Software supplied with the camera (18%, 52 Votes)

Total Voters: 294

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I used to use Olympus software but each version of iPhoto is better than the last, so I have not tried the software that came with my Panasonic/Lumix compact camera. From the review I have not missed much. I still use Photoshop to batch process photos and do occasional enhancement work, but far less than I used to.

It is very interesting to read about the large differences between the free packages.

Nic pic of an original Canon Ixus at the top of the story! Are you going all retro for 2012!

Canon Zoombrowser slide show has an invaluable feature – in the slide show you can set star ratings for each picture. This means it only takes one click per photo to go through a shoot on a full screen view and identify the pictures of interest- as an event may involve hundreds of pictures, the saving compared with other software is a great convenience. This is why I use this for managing my pictures and basic tasks, although I use Paint Shop Pro for more advanced editing