Digital Focus: Straighten Your Crooked Pictures

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Dave's Favorites: Improve Camera Phone Pics With Mobile Photo Enhancer

Camera phones are all the rage these days. And they can be very useful, whether it's to take a photo of that broken parking meter that got you unjustly ticketed or to capture an impromptu shot of your 5-year-old waving good-bye for her first day at school.

Handy as camera phones are, however, the quality of their pictures can be abysmal. Sure, I imagine that in a couple of years, higher-quality many-megapixel camera phones with really usable flash functions may be standard. And in occasional flights of fancy, I even dream of a day that they could largely replace stand-alone digital cameras. But for the moment, most camera phones in the U.S. are the photographic equivalent of a Close 'n Play Phonograph.

So is there any way to improve the quality of the pictures that your camera phone spits out? Absolutely! I've had good results with Mobile Photo Enhancer, a small and simple utility from VicMan Software.

Mobile Photo Enhancer couldn't be much simpler. Just load a picture (you'll probably have to e-mail the photo to your PC from your phone), and the program automatically reduces digital noise and performs an automatic color enhancement. You can fine-tune the amount of correction and also make some other simple fixes, such as brightening the corners of the photo; often, camera phones do a poor job of illuminating corners. You can even batch-edit several pictures at once.

The only downside is Mobile Photo Enhancer's price. It costs $30, which, in my opinion, is simply too much money for a one-trick pony like this--unless you take a lot of camera phone pictures and plan to use the program frequently. To help you decide, there's a free trial version at VicMan's site.

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