[SNAP!] Photo Editing Apps
Photos rarely are rarely perfect straight out of the camera. That’s why Photoshop is one of the most successful apps ever. But Photoshop is overly expensive and complicated for casual photographers. Fortunately, there are many free and inexpensive alternatives that do most of the things Photoshop does. Here are a few of them for desktop and mobile platforms...
Desktop Photo Editors
GIMP is probably the closet thing to a Photoshop clone, and it’s free. This open-source program is supported by an army of volunteer geeks who also happen to be shutterbugs, and it’s been around for an incredible 20 years. There’s even a plug-in repository that provides specialized capabilities not found in Photoshop.
GIMP is not without its flaws, however. Many of its filters have not been updated in the 21st century, and the constant tinkering with code by many independent parties means it’s prone to glitches and even crashes. It's also not the most user-friendly tool for novices who just want to make a few simple tweaks to photos before printing or posting them. Nonetheless, if you need a full-power photo editor, you probably need GIMP.
Paint.NET is a simpler but powerful free alternative to Photoshop or GIMP. Don’t be misled by the name; this is not a clone of Microsoft’s crude Paint accessory found in Windows. It includes basic editing tools like layers, multiple undo layers, filters, plugins, and a 3D rotate/zoom function. Paint.NET is recommended for computers that are light on resources and photographers who need only basic editing features.
IrfanView is named after its creator, Irfan Skiljan. IrfanView does image viewing, editing, file format conversion, and also serves as a media player for audio and video files. It supports many file types including BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG, TIFF, camera RAW, non-image media files such as Flash, Ogg Vorbis, MPEG, MP3, MIDI, and text files. It supports TWAIN scanners and can take screenshots. Images can be cropped, resized, and rotated. Brightness, contrast, tint, and gamma levels can be adjusted manually or automatically. IrfanView sports a simple interface that enables you to do the most common functions easily. One minor gripe I have with IrfanView is that if you accidentally press the Esc key, the program closes immediately, without asking if you want to save the file that's open.
PhotoScape is even more beginner-oriented, and also free. But it includes features such as AW conversion, photo splitting and merging, animated GIF creation, and even an unusual but handy function that lets you print lined, graph or sheet music paper.
Pixlr is an ad-supported online photo editor and quick-filter app. The Editor mode is for significant tinkering with layers, filters, etc., while the Express mode applies quick fixes to red-eye, color and brightness, and other common glitches.
Among paid desktop apps, Serif PhotoPlus X8 is a leading choice of pros and advanced hobbyists. It’s available in a free-trial download; if you want to keep it, the price is $99.95. PhotoPlus is not for beginners, but for intermediate to advanced editors who know Photoshop it is a bargain.
Paintshop Pro X9 by Corel also costs about $100 for the full, registered version. Key features include Magic Fill, Brushes, Text/shape cutting, Colour Material palette, enhanced dialog boxes, and more. It’s designed mainly for photograph manipulation.
Mobile Photo Editors
You can’t do a lot of serious photo editing on the small screen of a smartphone. But these apps allow one-click applications for filters, blemish-removal, and special effects that can enhance or at least enliven photos taken by phones.
Snapseed for iPhone is one of the most popular photo editing apps used by Apple fans. Oddly enough, Snapseed is a Google product! So of course there is an Android version as well.
It includes a host of basic and advanced features such as exposure and color adjustments, sharpening, cropping and straightening; brush tools to make selective adjustments; a healing tool for removing small unwanted objects; and a generous selection of filters to convert photos to black and white, apply textures, add blur effects, and otherwise have fun with your photos.
Bonfire for Android is free, with in-app purchases of enhanced features. Its main draw is a huge collection of easily applied filters, including some unusual ones like Fancy, a filter that turns your photos into watercolor. It also has basic editing tools like skin smoothing and blemish removal.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop Express, both for Android, can be synced with the desktop Photoshop through the Adobe Creative Cloud. Lightroom provides one-touch adjustments, while Express includes basic but powerful editing functions like adding filters, cropping, and an auto-fix function. Both are recommended for serious photographers who use Photoshop and need a mobile add-in.
Airbrush is for selfie-takers. It specializes in quick fixes and edits of face and skin, including a blemish remover, teeth whitening, eye brightening, reshaping tools, and plenty of filters to make you look better, or at least weirder, to your friends and followers.
Pixlr, mentioned above, also offers a mobile version that lets you crop, rotate, and fine-tune any picture.
What's your favorite desktop, web or mobile app for photo editing? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below…
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 6 Sep 2016
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- [SNAP!] Photo Editing Apps (Posted: 6 Sep 2016)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved