The only time I used an image was several years ago when I was still using Norton Ghost. It worked just fine.
I'm using the Pro version of Macrium Reflect now. I haven't had to do a restore although I did do a test restore form one HDD to another to make sure the recovery disk I burned would work and I could figure out how to use it (it did and I did). I make only full images of my C:/ drive on onto 160GB HDDs.
I got the Pro version of Macrium Reflect so I could make incremental backups (faster than full images) on my notebook before I built my desktop but, once I get ambitious and restore the 500GB HDD on my notebook back to factory condition, shrink the C:/ partition down to about 100GB or so, and create a data partition, I won't need to make any more incremental backups. Since I'm using 500GB HDDs to put the backups on, a full image of the hidden partitions and the C:/ and D:/ partitions won't take very long and I'll have plenty of room on the backup HDDs to keep several of them. The only data that will be permanently kept on the data partition will be duplicates of what's on my desktop machine (music and books mostly), which is already backed up to the nth degree, so won't need to be backed up on the notebook. Anything I do put on the machine while on a trip (photos, mostly) can be temporarily backed up to an HDD I take with me, a 32GB SD card I keep in my purse, and to my Amazon Cloud Drive until I get home and can transfer the data to my desktop.