Best Free Photo Slideshow Software

In a Hurry?
Go to details...  Go straight to the Quick Selection Guide

 
Introduction

Photo slideshow software allows you to create a slideshow of your favorite or memorable photos from your collection and turn multiple images into a standard video file for playback on your PC or other media devices.

Although the following reviews relate mostly to the technical aspects of the programs, remember that the best reason for using the programs is to tell a story in an interesting way.  A lot of very basic programs will allow you to present photos in a singular linear fashion, similar to whipping out a handful of snapshots and handing them to a usually disinterested spectator (family, relatives, or friends)!  However, a more memorable slide show uses the more complex features (motion, music, narration, titles, transistions, etc) to help tell a story about the photos without the distraction of out-of-sequence and poor photos.  Also, keep most show durations to under 15 minutes (the maximum for most audience attention span) unless you are doing a "Ken Burns" type historical epic.

  In recent years, and probably due to the vastly increased use of picture-taking "smartphones", the path of the slideshow world has forked into one of virtual scrapbooks and the other into the more traditional storytelling format.  The word "slideshow" hearkens back to the 1950's era of cameras using the transparent 35mm film to produce mounted "slides" for projection onto a screen for viewing with little or no ability to modify or animate the pictures.  The "slideshow" evolved from the simple linear sequential viewing to the present dvd or video format for viewing on TV or devices such as ipads and smartphones.
  Many "slideshow" programs have been developed in recent years, many of which have used "Wizards" to simplify the generation of the presentations, for better or worse depending upon the user's wishes or requirements.  I don't wish to denegrate out of hand the wizard or template approach since in some higher end programs, such templates may be used as a basis for user modification and control.  However, the advantages of user control using elements such as keyframing and other motion and transition control cannot be ignored for creating a much more interesting experience for the viewers.
 

If this has been what you're looking for then check out one of the free applications reviewed here. You might find it pretty useful in creating an impressive multimedia slideshow of your photos for sharing with your friends and family.

  Since the advent, a few years ago, of the picture taking smartphone, the market for Point & Shoot cameras has plumeted, along with the desire for post shoot printing and print distribution.  In addition, uploading smartphone pictures to the internet has promoted a rise in photo slide show wizard type programs.  As a result, interest in PC based slide show programs has decreased.  In line with this photography "sea change" I would welcome comments and recommendations for free on-line web-based slideshow programs.  I've also found that many of the "for profit" programs now have included  simplified free on-line wizard versions to their product aimed at the smartphone picture collections and distribution.  Please let me know your thoughts on this subject!
 
 
Discussion

Photo StoryPhoto Story is my top recommendation in this software category. It is rich in features and yet powerful and easy enough for most average users to create a slideshow of photos.

The program comes with a wizard-driven interface, leading you step by step, to enable importing and arranging of your pictures on a film strip; adding titles on the selected pictures; narrating your story by clicking the record button or adding background music to a set of pictures and finally, saving your story or slideshow.

What's more you can add panning and zooming effects to your pictures with various transition effects. Better still, you can even remove black borders by selectively cropping your pictures and creating music customizable with properties from the library of the program. In each step of preparing a project you can save it in a proprietary wp3 file format for further editing or backup.

When you're done with the project, you can save it with a profile supporting a video size from 320x240 pixels up to 1024x768 pixels for playback on your PC: or with other preset profiles for playback on mobile devices. The bit rate, aspect ratio and frame rate are also optimized for you based on the chosen profile.

I find that creating compelling slideshows from digital images is most intuitive and enjoyable with this program, but on the flip side, it saves your video file in wmv format only and doesn't support burning videos to a DVD or other optical disks.

Other than Photo Story, also try Windows Movie Maker 2.1 (for XP) which can also be used to create a slideshow of photos with music, background and transition effects and can be saved in wmv format; although the program is mainly designed for making home movies.

The latest version Windows Live Movie Maker 2011 (for Vista and 7), which is a module in Windows Live Essentials, can do the same things but with more advanced features such as high definition support.

A slideshow saved in wmv format can then be burned into a DVD using Windows DVD Maker included in some versions of Windows.

DVD slideshow GUIDVD slideshow GUI is a user interface for various great tools needed to make your own slideshow of photos. It is not as easy and intuitive to use as Photo Story but it's packed with more features favored by more experienced users.

Not only can you import photos and soundtracks with the program, you can also add to your project additional media types such as videos in avi or avs format, and presentation files in ppt or odp format.

Useful tools are ready for you to pan, zoom or rotate photos with a variety of transition effects and motion backgrounds as well as adding and editing borders and subtitles. It's also appealing to users because high definition videos up to 1080p are supported in project settings.

You can save your project file in dsg format for backup or export your result into popular video formats including: mp4, mpg, flv, avi, avs, etc. Further, you can author and burn a project file to a DVD for playback on a player or just save an iso file to your hard disk.

While running the current version of this program, I encountered some issues such as the system exception error when a project was previewed in Media Player Classic, but when the project was exported to an mpg file it played back smoothly on the same player.

Socusoft Photo to Video Converter (Free Version)Socusoft Photo to Video Converter (Free Version) is another easy-to-use program for making your slideshows in four quick steps: add photos; select transition and music; preview and output video.

What I like most about this program is its drag-and-drop feature. Not only can you drag-and-drop photos from your folder to a slideshow, you can also drag-and-drop transition effects between images with pan and zoom functions. This makes creating slideshows a lot easier.

On top of that, you can record your narration or add your favorite background music with optional in/out fading and loop audio. A project can be saved in its proprietary format while a completed slideshow can be saved to popular mpg format for playback with a video size up to a maximum of 720x576 pixels. Various audio and video options are available for adjustments by users as well.

Sadly, adding text to slides, more output profiles and other advanced features, such as burning slideshows to a DVD disc, are only available in the commercial Pro version.

ffDiaporamaffDiaporama Video Sequence Builder is a highly capable open source program on the level of some high end commercial products. As such, its complexity requires a steep learning curve and can be quite daunting to users looking for a simple drag and drop slide show builder.

However, if the user is looking for a key-frame type of image manipulation, this program will be a good candidate. Style sheets are available as samples of image motion manipulation (ala "Ken Burns" effects). The program is complete with a wide variety of audio and video output choices and DVD formats. Image inputs may be of photos, video, or animated clips. Some image editing is also available.

To be reviewed:
  • PhotoFilmStrip
  • Smile Box
  • Web oriented programs such as Ezvid, LibreOffice, Animoto, Onetrue Media and Kizoa
 
Other Free Photo Slideshow Software

Several other free photo slideshow applications were not rated in this review. I am listing some of them here with brief descriptions and links to their sites for ease of reference.

  • Picasa, a well-known digital photo organizer provides some basic slideshow making functions. No black border control is available unless full frame photo crop is applied. It also lacks more powerful features in other programs designed solely for generating slideshows.
  • Both XnView and IrfanView are widely used image viewers which allow users to create a basic slideshow of photos with background music saved in a self-running exe or screen saver file, but are short of some other useful features available in the recommended products.
  • MemoriesOnWeb, based on the same engine as the commercial version MemoriesOnTV, offers only basic photo slideshow features. Video output in avi or mpg format, but no user settings for profiles or video sizes were noted.
  • PhotoLapse is a small program for converting a large sequence of jpg still images to an avi movie but it lacks a lot of features available in other photo slideshow software.
  • Bolide Slideshow Creator is a good, easy to use, but very basic program.  I am in the process of evaluating the program and will write a critique article in the near future.  It is a Windows desktop program with capabilities for incorporating photos, audio, transitions (limited to about 30), text, adjustable timing for photos and transistions into the slideshow.  However, it is limited to one simple pan and zoom effect and a 4:3 format output in avi, wmv, or mvw .  More info later.
  • Comslider (Comslider.com) is a free slideshow creation program strictly for generating an HTML insert to a person's website.  It is an interesting variation of  slide show creation programs, with a limited set of features as compared to standalone programs, but may be of limited interest and use for most of our readers and users,
 
Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these articles too:

 
Quick Selection Guide

Photo Story
5
 
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Intuitive and easy to use, rich in features, panning and zooming with various transition effects, crop black borders, add text and soundtracks.
Save video file in wmv format only, no burning video to CD/DVD is supported.
3
5.1 MB
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows XP to 7

This product is available at Softpedia here with no WGA validation required.

Socusoft Photo to Video Converter
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Easy to use, drag-and-drop feature, pan and zoom functions, transition effects with background music or voice, save results in popular mpg format, support video size up to 720x576 pixels.
Adding text, more output profiles and other advanced features, such as burning slideshows to a DVD disc, are only available to the commercial Pro version.
8.07
27.8 MB
Feature limited freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows
DVD slideshow GUI
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Packed with more features, useful tools to pan, zoom and rotate images with a variety of transition effects, motion backgrounds, borders and subtitles, export to popular video formats, support HD videos, authoring and burning to optical disks.
Not as easy and intuitive to use as Photo Story. Some errors encountered when running the program with over 100 images or greater than 50 MB audio files. Since the program is a shell for several open source programs (ie DVDauthor, Imagburn), user may have to seek more information for effective use.
0.9.5.4
28 MB
Open source freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows XP, Vista
ffDiaporama
3
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
A highly capable open source program on the level of some high end commercial products.
Complex to use with a steep learning curve.
1.6
35.7MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Open source freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Windows XP/SP3, Vista, 7 and Linux

 
Editor
This software category is maintained by volunteer editor StahlSS. Registered members can contact the editor with any comments or questions they might have by clicking here.
 
Tags

best photo slideshow, best photo slideshow software, best photo to video, best image to video, best photo story, multimedia slideshow, best image slide show, best photo to dvd program, converter, photo movie creator.

 

Share this
4.014285
Average: 4 (70 votes)
Your rating: None

Comments

by MikeR on 9. November 2014 - 10:43  (119542)

This article is in serious need of updating and revising: I find it unbelievable that Windows Photostory 3, from 2003, is being touted here as best-in-class. It was created at a time before widescreen monitors, home DVD players and widescreen TVs. It does not know what a 16:9 aspect ratio is and no, you cannot simply "crop" it to fit: a math formula has to be employed during batch processing.

You cannot output to DVD format and cannot burn to DVD.You will need to have read and understood just about every lesson the famous Papa John has ever penned about Photostory 3 to even begin to comprehend how to make it work in 2014. Sadly, you're too late to join any of the Windows Photostory fora that once proliferated on the 'Net as they've gone, their users finally giving up on PS3.

Did this reviewer genuinely create a 16:9 widescreen HD slideshow for viewing on a 16:9 monitor?

Gizmo's Freeware is Recruiting!

Gizmos Needs YouShare your knowledge of free software with millions of Gizmo's readers by joining our editing team.  Details here.