Edit Photos…For Free!

 

Imaging by Santosh Kamble

Imaging by Santosh Kamble

Who says that the best things in the world are not free? Ketan Kundargi sifts through tons of freeware available online, to tell you the six best image-editing software you can download, without spending any money.

Have you always wanted to make your digital photographs stand out? If you wish to tweak your photographs by enhancing parameters like contrast and saturation, and want to do it all without spending a single rupee, read on! There are a number of freeware available on the Internet, each of which have different capabilities and target audiences. Some are really good at making quick enhancements to photographs, while others are efficient at editing multiple images at one go. We decided to separate the wheat from the chaff, by selecting the six best freeware that you must download. So whether you want to give your family snaps a stunning touch,or actually need something a lot more serious and intelligent, we recommend you look no further.

Picasa— picasa.google.com
For those who may not understand photo editing too well, but wish to enhance, sort and organise their family images.

All Images by Ketan Kundargi

All Images by Ketan Kundargi

Photography may not be something you do dedicatedly, but you have still fun while using the camera. You shoot a number of pictures at family functions and while with friends, and you wish to organise and enhance them. If the above description applies to you, Picasa is ideal software for you. Picasa is not only free, but also so simple to use that it allows absolutely anyone in your family to have fun with photos. The software has many one-click options that allow you to adjust contrast, saturation and other basic parameters in a quick, efficient manner. One unique feature of Picasa is a too called I am Lucky. This tool automatically enhances your image in a number of ways, by adjusting contrast, saturation and colour balance. Picasa is also an excellent tool to organise photographs. Geotagging, captioning and tagging people in your images helps you to arrange your images better. Picasa also allows you to watch video files within the software. Eventually, Picasa is a lot about fun—you can do a lot more with your images, like exporting them as webpages, collages, posters and a lot more!

 

Pros

  • Interactive user interface.
  • No previous knowledge of image editing required.
  • Users get 1GB of hosting space on Picasa WebAlbums.

Cons

  • Tied to your computer’s folder-based system of organisation.
  • Litters your computer’s folders with Picasa.ini files.

 

Photoscape— www.photoscape.org
For photographers who want to add some fun effects in a software that may be limited, but is rather convenient.Photoscape is an image editor that is packed with several easy-to-use features. While there is no provision for RAW editing, you can at least convert your RAW files to JPEG. The software has some interesting features. You can also split a single image into various parts or combine two or more images to create a single one. Photoscape also lets you create animated GIF images. The software has numerous filters like Blur, Vignette, Noise, Fake Tilt-Shift, Graduated Tint make photo editing simple and fun. The ‘Film-Effect’ filter is not very accurate, but its settings of Velvia, Provia, Agfa and so on are effective one-click fixes that one can use. While Photoscape is a fun software, it has its limitations. Moreover, it is not adequate enough for editing low-light images, as the Noise Reduction feature performs rather poorly.

Pros

  • Lets you apply a wide variety of effects.
  • Has an excellent Page Layout Tool and provides great print results.

Cons

  • Allows you to work with only one document at a time.
  • No facility to upload the images to Flickr, Facebookor other online Web Albums.

 

Lightbox—www.sagelighteditor.com/downloadfree2.html
For the photographer on the move, who wants to edit photos without the hassle of installing software on multiple PCs.

Are you a photographer who is always on the go? Do you use a number of different computers, at home, your friend’s place and your workplace? Lightbox is a simple photo editing software that is best suited to your needs. You can save the software as an Executable file on a flash drive, so that you can access it from any computer without the bother of installing it. Alternatively, you can also download the software from the internet and start using it right away without any lengthy installation procedures. Lightbox has an attractive user interface that is very easy to use and understand. It offers unique slide-bar adjustments for all your image editing. It includes simple tools to correctred-eye, remove colour cast, crop, resize, add borders and print. It also has splitscreen views to help you compare your images before and after the corrections have been made.

Pros

  • No need to install the software.
  • Split screen display let you see the difference in your image before and after editing on the same screen.

Cons

  • Since it is a free version of a paid software, it has a lot of tools featured which have to be to paid to used.

 

Photos Pos Pro— www.photopos.com
For photographers who want to control settings like brightness, contrast, exposure and add various artistic effects.

Photo Pos Pro is a pixel-based image editor which used to be a paid software, but is now available as a freeware. It allows you to use Layers while editing, so that you can undo or fine-tune any effects that you add. The layout is very interactive with a toolbar on one side of the page and all the Quick Fixes for image enhancement on the top. The software has a dedicated Red Eye Removal Tool and preset Curves. Not just that, you can add frames to your images and even create web pages! While the functionality of layers is much appreciated, we found it weird that the software lacks the ability to duplicate a layer. Also, the software allows you to edit only one image at a time, a feature in which it lags behind many software in the market.

Pros

  • Since all tools provide pixel-based image editing, it provides good image quality even after editing.
  • Wide variety of preset effects along with layersmakes image editing easier.

Cons

  • Needs a Plug-in to work with Windows Vista.
  • Can edit only one image at a time.

 

Irfanview— www.irfanview.com
For those who deal with a variety of image formats and need to batch process photos by using an efficient workflow.

Image-editing software are often monstrous in size and take up a lot of resources of your computer when you are editing. Welcome to IrfanView, a software of merely 1.7MB, which works on minimum resources and starts up within seconds. It is also very fast and responds quickly while managing and editing images. Do not let the name deceive you. This software lets you do much more than just view your images. You can crop images, apply batch conversions, sharpen, create panoramas and change color modes easily. It also lets you add a number of effects such as 3D Button, Blur, Emboss, Oil Paint, Edge Detection, Median, Explosion, Pixelize, Sepia and Raindrops. Moreover, the provision for plug-ins makes it possible to add a variety of new features to the software. However, most of the tools are located in drop down menus, making it difficult to find a specific tool a bit tiresome.

Pros

  • Lets you view videos as well as supports a wide variety of images.
  • Can be upgraded using many Plug-Ins making it easier to edit images.
  • Great for batch processing.

Cons

  • A steep learning curve.
  • Some of the tools are harder to use and take up alot of time.

GIMP— www.gimp.org
For professional photographers and visual artists. A powerful substitute for users of Adobe Photoshop.

If you are a serious enthusiast photographer or even a professional, your photo editing needs will be a lot more advanced than other users. However, what if you want the capabilities and functionality of a software like Photoshop,but also want it free? GIMP is your answer. GIMP or rather GNU Image Manipulation Program is open source software, which you can customise as per your needs. It also provides users with features like Channels, Layers and Masks, thus allowing you to perform complex editing with a lot of finesse. It is not an easy software though—the learning curve while using GIMP is actually quite steep. Also, GIMP does not have a basic printing feature or the option to convert to CMYK colour space.

Pros

  • Capable of using many Plug-ins and filters of Photoshop.
  • Features like layering capabilities, filters, gradientsand transparency make almost anything possible when editing with GIMP.

Cons

  • User interface can be a bit complicated while starting.
  • Does not support the CMYK colour space.

All Images by Ketan Kundargi

Tags: ketan kundargi, Software review, GIMP, IrfanView, Photo Pos Pro, Lightbox, Photoscape, Picasa, freeware