Last week I posted asking for people to make suggestions for photo editing software alternatives to Lightroom and Photoshop. I had a few suggestions and of course, did my own research.
First and foremost I do stand by my recommendation that if you are a serious enthusiast, and/or are shooting images in RAW, then the best option is to subscribe to Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography Plan, which gives you Lightroom and the full version of Photoshop for just £8.57 per month including VAT. See: http://www.adobe.com/uk/creativecloud/photography.html for more information.
However, not everyone is at that level, especially if you just take photos on holiday and your camera is point-and-shoot or a camera phone. So if you fall into that category and are looking to edit and modify images in here are some of the program that you might want look at. In this blog post I’m just looking at programs for use on your PC. At a later date I’ll post about programs for use on your mobile devices.
Paint.NET started life as a project by an undergraduate and has developed into a free alternative to programs such as Photoshop, Coral Draw etc. It is not as sophisticated but it is completely free. It has its own little community many of whom write plugins for it.
Download from: http://www.getpaint.net/download.html
Be very careful on the dotpdn.com website as many of the graphics saying “download” are actually adverts.
The program is free but they try to encourage PayPal donations to try to keep the project/program going.
Basic editing program – definitely a step up from Microsoft Paint, but the tools provided are a very strange mix. For example, layers are available but simple tasks such as cropping are not intuitive at all. Create a selection with the section rectangular selection tool and then select crop to selection from the image menu.
Layers will make you think you can work non destructively but adjustments are all destructive and have to apply to the layers you are working on. Even text once created is non-editable – even if it is put on it’s own layer.
Some of the adjustments operate in a strange way for example layers adjustments displays vertically whereas in almost all other programs I have used it is horizontal.
The product is free
Has limited layers along with blend modes
The history window is useful to step back through your editing if you make a mistake
A very extensive list of plugins available – but may take some time to workout what you need for your own workflow.
The effects are very limited and most quite old and dated effects such as brush strokes, pencil and ink effects. Certainly nothing to appeal to anyone who is used to the sort of post processing that things like Instagram can offer.
Faststone Photo Resizer
If all you want to do is resize images so you can post them online or email them to friends Faststone’s Photo Resizer might be worth a look.
Download from : http://www.faststone.org/FSResizerDetail.htm
Resizes images and renames them if you wish.
The program is simple to use, you can specify how you want the images to be resized by clicking on “advanced options” Although it is odd that all the settings of the primary function of the program are in “advanced options”
As well as specifying the size you can add text or a graphical watermark to the images for security when uploading images on-line.
You can also add different borders, rotate, and event makes global adjustments to your images.
A lot of settings that you can set and it is worth noting that you can save and load the different settings into options files for easy recall in the future.
You also rename files at the same time – this is useful if you want to indicate that these are lo-res copies or thumbnail versions by appending something like “-tn” to the file name.
If you ONLY want to rename the files there is a separate tab for that and that just performs a rename action. The number of tokens you can use to build up a filename is limited, but you can probably make it work for most photo naming conventions. What is useful is a “search and replace” facility within the name. I have a job code in my filenames and sometimes I forget to change it next time I download images. I can imagine using the “search and replace” rename to quickly correct that.
Main thing to watch for is to make sure that you check “Ask before overwrite” and make sure that your output directory is not the same as your input one – otherwise, you will lose your original images.
- Very flexible, intuitive to use,
- Can also do renames
- Save settings to create a library of output presets
- “Ask before overwrite” can easily be taken off. I would like to see this a hardcoded always ask me if you are going to do anything destructive. Or at very least the ability to turn it off should be hidden in menus where it won’t get clicked on accidentally.
FastStone also offers a free image editor – called FastStone Image Viewer (http://www.faststone.org/FSViewerDetail.htm) which may also be worth looking at.
Fotor Image Editor
If you are looking for an image editor which permits you to add creative effects to your images Fotor Image Editor should be high up on the list of product to look at.
Download : http://www.fotor.com/windows/
If Fotor looks like something you might find on your mobile device for image editing this is not surprising as there are versions of it for mobile devices and I will look at those in a different blog post.
Fotor is incredibly intuative. Different effects you might want are all down the side. Click on type of processing you want to do and select the settings you want.
Everything is non destructive – right up until the point of exporting or saving the image. I have not yet found any way of saving the ‘recipes’ or formulas – or for that matter a way of saving the image with the non destructive effects. It appears you can only save the resultant image at the end of the process.
Exporting is easy and you can specify that you want to output directly to Facebook, Twitter or Flickr. You can of course also save the resultant image to your computer and in a variety of formats. Saving to Facebook and Twitter automatically downsizes the image – but I haven’t been able to find any way to control how much it is downsized. Some photographers might not like image quite as large as it generates uploading to social media.
Also in the app is a collage tool which allows you to combine multiple images together, it got a good range of built-in templates but there is a freestyle option to give you maximum control.
- It’s totally free
- It gives a very contemporary look to your images
- Has a large range of options
- Non-destructive until you finally save the resultant image.
- Can also do collage photos
- Nothing significant. It’s not really an image editor but more of an image processor – but don’t let that put you off!