With my first trip to Europe, niece wedding, and 4 birthday parties, in the next 6 months, I decided to upgrade my 2002 2MP camera. From the beginning my goal was to produce a DVD-video slideshow, which could be copied and sent out to family and friends. A high priority was a camera which could also take avi movies. This compromise would save me from dragging around both a camera and a camcorder. And I have seen to many family camcorder video tapings, which after 10 minutes, the same material gets boring! My other must priority is simple to use, and fast results.

I started my search with, then moved to for the clearinghouse of all camera reviews. I purchased, after an in-depth, search, the CANON POWERSHOT A610 5MP camera, and have been very happy. One note, the reviews say the A610/A620 do not zoom while filming, this is incorrect! They can zoom in&out while filming! I also purchased a 2Gb 133x memory dimm. I set my resolution to 2048x1536, and video to 320x240 at 30fps. 15fps is to jerky. A 2gb can produce a 60 min slideshow, encoded set to the highest quality.

PICTURE’s TOUCH-UP: ADOBE Photoshop Album Starter Edition 3.0
Of the 4 birthday parties I have averaged a min of 100 jpg pictures and 10 avi files. All the BD parties have started in the afternoon and ended late at night. I have pictures taken with daylight to incandescent. I also have the redeye fix turned off to speed up the shutter, due to fast motion of small kids. For redeye and occasional incandescent touchup, I wanted a program which could go through a large number files fast and easy. To many programs make it a big deal to open, select , then open the tools, then save, etc. Also a few programs will save the jpg file to a different jpg resolution! I am now using ADOBE Photoshop Album Starter Edition 3.0, and it’s free by download. Another good freebie is MAGIX PHOTO MANAGER. The other programs I tried are Canon Utilites, Fuji Viewer, PhotoDeluxe HomeED, Camedia Master, MS Picture It, ArcSoft Photo Studio, HP Photo Printing, Photo FX, and MGI Photo Suite.

I reviewed NERO 7, Movie Factory 4, Vegas Movie Studio 6, Premiere Elements 2, Pinnacle Studio 9, EMC 7.5 and 8. For me, I selected EMC 7.5 over 8. Again, simple and fast results are my priorities. I like EMC 7.5 ability to open a folder, then you can click and drag the jpg or avi file into the slideshow. This is a big time saver for putting together a slideshow. I was surprise how many programs separate opening stills files versus video files. I mix stills and video to create my slideshows. For those doing a lot of audio mixing, check out Vegas Movie Studio.

Being a computer geek for 25 years, I am use to compatibility issues for new technology. This was no different, but still frustrating. After producing, burning and copying my first EMC slideshow, I received phone calls of “disc errors. Like everyone else, I started reading forums like ROXIO’s EMC, , and on how to DVD AUTHOR. I appreciate everyone comments about buying the best media and burners, but I remember the compatibility issues we had with CD’s as the technology matured. Yes the media quality was a factor, but the burning software and burning speed had a greater effect on compatibility. So my compatibility testing focused on the software, 4X burn speed, using cheap DVDs and a cheap burner.

My computer is a HP/COMPAQ SR1514NX with Sempron 3100 1.8Ghz, with 384Mb usable memory (128Mb out of 512Mb dedicated to onboard video). At the end of my testing I still have 30Gb of free hard disc space. My burner is a Fry’s EMPREX DRW1108UI external USB. My DVDs are Frys’s GQ 16X+R, qty 50 for $10.50, and COMPUSA (PRINCO) 4X-R, qty 100 for $20.

I have now burned 51 DVD-Videos, (with the same mpeg files). I have tried 48 DVDs in 9 different DVD (TV) Players. Of all the family members DVD (TV) Players, the Samsung 511 was the most difficult, and the best was a Sony SLV D500P, it played all burned DVDs.

On all my burns I added my mpeg files to the menu, then saved to a physical ISO file. Then burn from the physical ISO image file. I have burned the following: +R at its 16X and 4X speeds, the -R at 4X, menus using the standard image supplied, imported jpg & bmp still pictures for menu images and selected auto play with no menu, if available. Players were Samsung, Toshiba, RCA, LG, Magnavox and Sony.

My recommendation for compatibility across different DVD players:
Use -R media and burn at 4X speed
Use a Menu versus auto-play. All Auto play had some compatibility issue.
If importing a picture for the menu image, first convert to bmp. Jpg had compatibility issues.
Save to computer a physical ISO image file, then burn ISO image to disc

BEST SOFTWARE COMPATIBILITY with no burn failure or issues was GEAR VIDEO 8 (free trial ware). All DVDs burned were successful, (NO failures) and every DVD-Video played in every machine. The only negative comment I have is, it’s not the easiest to use. I do not recommend it as the first and only software for a beginner. If I had not used the other programs first, I would not have understood some of their terms and actions. On the plus side they do a have a User forum, US(Florida) phone support and do answer the phone. Program also does audio. The negatives are no choice for auto play of no menu, and you have to close the program and reopen to load a ISO(dvi) physical image file after its creation from its folders.

My second recommendation for COMPATIBILITY, and first choice for a beginner is Pegasus Tsunami (TMPGEnc) DVD AUTHOR 1.6 (not Pro)) The negatives are #1) DVD AUTHOR was the only software to fail during the disc burning process, 3 bad burns, (51-3=48 disc), #2) the auto play with no menu, played in the Samsung 511, but failed in 3 of the 9 DVD players, tested #3) lack of phone support and user forum,

EMC 7.5, NERO 7, ULEAD Movie Factory 4, SONY Vegas Movie Studio 6, Pinnacle Studio 9, all had some compatibility failures across the 9 DVD players.

All 4 Adobe Premiere Elements 2.0 DVDs did play in all 9 players but I disliked PE2 for the following reasons: 1) played at a lower resolution(?) and I did select the highest quality, 2) it took 3.5 hours to create the physical ISO image file (versus all others took 60-90 minutes) and 3) while doing so it beat up my system, like no other software program. It was very memory hunger, causing my system to consistently use the hard disc as virtual memory, and CPU usage never dropped below 98%. For the first time I was actually worried my system may over heat.