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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Photo Editing Software Roundup

Photo editing software is going to be necessary at some point. You'll need to crop, remove red-eye or completely transform an image. The level you get into things is really up to you, but you need to have some tools at your fingertips.

Many thanks to Lifehacker for their useful Hive Five series that gave me a list of the five best image editing tools and the five best online image editing tools.

Desktop software:

Adobe has a slew of photo editing tools that have become the standard in the image editing industry. Photoshop has even become a verb to denote editing an image. The $700-$1000 price tag means that only professionals are going to use the high end software. The next level down is Lightroom which is about $300 and offers all the photo organizing and editing tools that most people will need. Lightroom is focused on giving photographers a way to mess with the pictures they've taken rather than the full on graphic design done in Photoshop. The most stripped down version is Photoshop Elements for $99 which offers great resources and tools (and probably more than most people will ever need). Think of it as what the full Photoshop was three or four years ago.

In the Free Open Source Software (FOSS) camp are GIMP and Paint.NET, which is what I use by the way, I use it because it's free and because it has most everything that I could ever want. I was able to make the graphic header for this blog with Paint.NET and there are a lot of other options available. Basically the difference between Paint.NET and Photoshop is that you'll have to do a lot of things manually in the FOSS that are automated in the Photoshop family. How much are you willing to pay for convenience?

Google offers the Picasa photo organizing software that also has quite a bit of editing power baked in. Just like you can click "I'm Feeling Lucky" when searching with Google, you can click it in Picasa and the software will automatically crank out the adjustments to the image that it thinks are best. If you have a huge database of images with people in them, Picasa has a handy face recognition feature that is fairly accurate. This is also free.

Online Tools:

There are several online image editing tools that allow you to upload your image to their website, edit it and then download the finished product. Most of them share similar features, what sets them apart is the speed of the software. Lifehacker prefers Aviary, but there's also Pixlr, and SumoPaint to consider. If you want to use the Adobe software they now have an online version of Photoshop. Finally, when I need to edit photos online I use Picnik because I like the interface and because you can install it as an app in Google Chrome.

Update: Unfortunately, Google is closing the doors on Picnik, effective April 19, 2012. It's probably a good idea to start learning another online application, if Picnik has become your go-to online photo editor.

What tools are your favorite?


PastorGregO said...

Thanks James, I just downloaded and am going to try it out. btw it tries to redirect you to download other stuff like a lot of free downloads do but I don't think that's a biggie.

James Wood said...

Good to know. I don't like getting all the junk programs on my computer. I usually avoid downloading extra "features" when they're suggested.

Here are some tutorials:

And some plugins:

To get you going.