Photography can easily turn into a very expensive hobby. Once you find the right camera and buy some books on Understanding Exposure and Light: Science and Magic or take a few online classes, there may not be a lot left in your budget for an elite photo editing program.
Perhaps, you don’t even want a complicated program or you don’t have time to learn, but you still want sharp images to share. Fortunately, there are plenty of options that are either free to download or web-based. While they may not offer as many tricks and tools as Photoshop, they are well equipped to handle basic photo editing.
I’ve compared the reviews and taken recommendations in order to bring you five fantastic photo editing programs:
Picnik is “Flickr-ready”, which has made it insanely popular. It’s web-based, so there’s nothing to download, no registration required, and it works with all operating systems.
Add-ons for Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Safari make it easy to pull images on or off the Web to edit, store, and distribute.
It’s an incredibly basic program, which may be a positive or negative depending on your needs. On the other hand, it also offers some nice Premium (paid) features, which run $24.99 per year. Not bad, if you ask me.
Gimp, or GNU Image Manipulation Program, is an open-source image editor available for free download across all operating systems. It offers more sophisticated photo editing, making it rather similar to Photoshop.
It has a little bit of a learning curve compared to other free services, but there are tutorials available on the site to help you along.
Did you know that Adobe actually offers a free online version of Photoshop?
I did not until my friend, Regan of Formation of Me introduced me to it this weekend.
Photoshop Express Editor is an app-based photo editor that allows you to upload photos, store and organize them, and create interactive slideshows. Plus, it backs up your images on the web.
The site requires users to register and login before you can access the service. Photoshop Express Editor offers quick fixes and basic filters. It’s the next best thing to Photoshop, which you can trial for free for 30 days.
It offers a far more advanced interface, so it may not be ideal for a casual photographer. As the name suggests, it a great tool for a professional user or someone with the patience to learn from its detailed user guides.
According to the developer:
The program offers beginning users a Help system which they can follow step by step into the wonderful world of Digital Picture Enhancement. With the Help system, you can turn from a beginner to a professional user.
FotoFlexer is an Web-based app that offers a wide selection of photo editing tools in a user-friendly interface.
It includes advanced features like curve tweaks, intelligent resizing, and animation which most free programs do not offer. While it doesn’t handle larger images very well, it’s ideal for web-sized images and is light on bandwidth usage.