Ashampoo Photo Optimizer is a straightforward tool which makes it easy to enhance, optimise and share your favourite photos.
As with previous editions, the program opens with a simple thumbnail browser. Navigate to a folder of photos and if you spot one which isn't up to your usual standards, then you can enhance its colours, lighting, sharpness and more in a couple of clicks.
Basic editing features make it easy to sharpen, blur, mirror or rotate an image. If the automatic enhancements don't quite work for you then you can manually tweak photo colours for more precise results. And while most of the "colour effects" on offer here are straightforward ("Greyscale", "Sepia"), the "Image Age" option is a little more interesting, giving any picture the look of an aged photograph.
There are plenty of improvements in this version. You can now compensate for shaky camera work by straightening the horizon; live previews show you the results of an effect right away; there's now an option to delete image metadata; the red-eye remover and watermark tool have been enhanced; and the interface has seen a major revamp.
Perhaps most usefully, Photo Optimizer now supports batch processing. Want to tweak a lot of photos all at once? Just select the images you need, apply the effect and you're done. (Which isn't risky, because Photo Optimizer automatically saves the original version of a photo before you begin work. If you decide later that your changes haven't been for the best then you can undo them all, even many weeks later.)
Hopefully you'll see positive improvements in your photos, though. And if you do, the Export menu then allows you to share your chosen images via email, Facebook or Picasa.
Please note, Photo Optimizer may install a browser toolbar during its setup process. If you're not interested, make sure you choose the "Custom installation" option and clear the relevant checkboxes.
The review above is for version 5. What's new in version 6?
+ Better-structured: Enhanced program structure and readability
+ More powerful: Smart algorithms, portrait tools, new effects
+ More efficient: Less resource-hungry, optimized for performance
+ Windows XP no longer supported.