Free Photo and Video Software Suggestions for Windowz

I love photo and video editing on my Mac. For photography, iPhoto is a wonderful application I use for casual photos and Aperture 3 is what I use for my serious, professional quality photography. For video, iMovie is easy to use and can give great results.

But we also have a netbook in the house (Asus EeePC) which runs Windows XP and it gets a lot more use than the Mac does. Between my wife's iPod Touch and the EeePC, she doesn't even use the Mac anymore. She also takes a bunch of photos and videos with her Canon Powershot SD1000. So, to me, it makes a lot of sense to dedicate the EeePC to my wife's photos and videos. It has a fairly big 160GB hard drive and has a decent screen. The question that comes up is: What software can I use on this low powered netbook for editing Sophia's photos and video? More specifically, is there free software out there that can come close to doing the same job as iPhoto and iMovie do on the Mac?

I'm happy to say that I've found 2 programs that work well on the netbook and do a pretty good job even with its MUCH weaker hardware. Here they are:
For photography - Google Picasa
For videography - Windows Movie Maker and Google Picasa

Google Picasa
This is one impressive program! It's not quite as elegant as iPhoto on the Mac, but it's more elegant than most Windows programs. And it's amazing how fast and powerful this program is on a netbook. It has almost as many photo editing tools as iPhoto and can even handle RAW files. And it does a very good job organizing photos and can even sync them to a Picasa web album if you so choose. The video editing capabilities are very basic and don't give you much in the way of creativity, but if all you want to do is combine video clips and put a title at the beginning, Picasa can do that. Then you can even publish the video directly to YouTube. Seriously, this program is so good, it should be a required download for any Windows user who has a digital camera, and that's just about everybody. Did I mention that it's absolutely free too?

Windows Movie Maker
Unfortunately, our netbook is still running XP and has the old version of Movie Maker. But hey, if you want to have more creative options than just combining video clips and putting a title in the beginning, this is your program. Between each clip, you can choose from a bunch of different transitions. And you can even adjust the look of each video clip with some basic filters. And Movie Maker also has plenty of title animations to choose from. Unfortunately, this is also a fairly hard program to use because it's very much based on menus rather than a visual graphical user interface (a la iMovie). I haven't tried the new version of Movie Maker for Vista and 7, so I can't comment how easy those versions are to use. However, once you get used to the menu system of the XP version of Movie Maker, it's not so bad. And hey, like Picasa, it's free, so you can't complain too much about its flaws.

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