A good photo editor is a must for any photography enthusiast. Images coming from your camera usually can use some basic adjustments to sharpness, colour correction, cropping and sometimes resizing. A good editor can be your best friend.
You have many editors you can pay for such and Adobe Photoshop, Corel Paint Shop, Apple Aperture, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and many others. These are powerful tools that can range from $100 to $400.
If you don’t want to shell out that kind of coin you can still get your hands on a great photo editor – FREE. Let’s look at 5 free photo editors.
http://www.photoscape.org – Photoscape is packed with features. It includes a viewer, editor, and can create animated GIF’s, Batch edit, RAW conversion, stitch (combine) function and more.
The viewer is nothing fancy. You have a thumbnail view with a folder list plus a larger preview window and some basic image information such as the EXIF data. The viewer isn’t as nice to use as Googles Picasa, but it’ll get the job done and is simple and straight forward.
The editor is feature rich. You can apply many adjustments including auto adjustments, colour curves, levels and a range of filters from sharpening to noise reduction to some fun and creative filters. It has a full palette of brushes and tools.
The Batch Editor allows you to apply many of the functions available in the editor to multiple files at once. This includes frames, objects, text, color and tone adjustments, sharpening, resizing, and many of the effects.
Photoscape also includes a useful feature to batch rename files. This is a solid editor for most everyday users.
http://www.gimp.org/. Is an open source program and maybe the most powerful free image editing software out there. It is regularly compared to Adobe Photoshop and has the learning curve to match.
Being open source allows developers to improve it. GIMP has a large following of developers and users which means there are lots of useful plugins and tutorials to get the most out of it. You can find plugins the community creates at http://registry.gimp.org/. Installation of the plugins is simple; just down load the file and move it to C:\Program Files\GIMP-2.0\share\gimp\2.0\scripts.
GIMP has basic and advanced image editing and retouching tools including paint, drawing and selection tools, layers and channel support, selection masks, color adjustments, paths, etc. And it is compatible with tilt and pressure sensitive graphic editing tablets.
It does have some weakness. It lacks adjustment layers, actions, CMYK, HDR and 16-bit per channel color support and custom shapes. And unlike Adobe Photoshop there is no quality assurance and can be a little buggy. The interface is archaic looking and has floating panels which cannot be pinned.
GIMP, even with its flaws, is a very powerful editor which is playing in the same league as Adobe Photoshop. For a free open source piece of software is saying a lot.
Paint.NET started as a senior design college project aimed at producing a free alternative to Microsoft Paint in Windows and has developed into a feature-packed pixel-based image editor that has been compared to Corel Paint Shop Pro, Adobe Photoshop and GIMP. Plugins are available at http://forums.getpaint.net/index.php?/forum/7-plugins-publishing-only/.
It’s interface has a distinctive Photoshop look about it. Everything is laid out nicely and and first time users should have no problem finding their way around; and Paint.Net may be preferable to users who want a free editor that is expandable with plugins but are put off by GIMP’s clunky interface and it’s floating panels.
Like GIMP it has a lot of tools, features and filters for basic and creative editing. Oddly it is lacking a burn and dodge tool. Unlike Adobe, it does not have adjustment layers. You can apply your adjustments on duplicate layers but this is definitely not as powerful as Adobe Photoshop.
photoplus.en.softonic.com – PhotoPlus SE is the free version of Serif’s image editor.
It has a clean interface that looks like Photoshop. It’s feature rich and has a steep learning curve. Though it does have a nifty little feature – a ‘How To’ slide out panel on the left hand side of the editor.
While it is well designed and packed with features, unfortunately it is a free version of a pay software and some of the most useful tools are blocked – such as curves, levels and colour balance.
Just a heads up; when your finished editing an image, don’t ‘Save’ it – ‘Export’ it. You can Export into many different file formats but ‘Save’ only in their proprietary format.
http://www.photopos.com/ – This is a powerful photo editor and its features work well. With a full range of tools and features you can do most basic and creative editing. Plus it has a community online at its website and some useful plugins.
However, its interface is a cluster. With as much as it can do, the clunky interface may increase the learning curve of new users. Photographers who are used to powerful editors such as Adobe Photoshop will find their way around fine but will be frustrated with the incoherent layout.
Overall a good editor that is worth checking out.
It’ll be useful to try out a few of these to find the photo editing software that’s right for you. These programs don’t quite live up to the paid programs. They don’t do layers and non-destructive editing as the paid for programs are campible. They do a good job but you are making small compromises to get a free editor.
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