Software

Five inexpensive digital photography applications

You don't have to pay a small fortune for editing and managing digital photos.

The digital photography revolution has resulted in an overabundance of high priced products for editing and managing digital photos. However, there are also free and cheap photo editing and management tools available. In this post we list five such tools that are either free or cost less than fifty dollars.

This blog post is also available as a TechRepublic Screenshot Gallery.

Five apps

1. PhotoElf

PhotoElf is a utility for viewing, editing, and printing digital photos. It also offers features for organizing your digital photo collection and for creating Web-based photo albums.

Although PhotoElf is packed with features, it is its printing capabilities that really stand out. PhotoElf allows you to achieve granular control over the printing process in much the same way that you would be able to using a desktop publisher application such as Microsoft Publisher. The application even supports the creation of printing templates.

PhotoElf sells for $19.99, but a free 30-day trial is available for download.

2. Zoner Photo Studio Free

Zoner Photo Studio Free is a free tool for managing and editing your digital photos. The thing that sets Zoner Photo Studio apart from other low cost photography applications is the fact that it is jam packed with the types of features that are normally found in higher end photo editing applications. For example, the application includes a histogram function, which is a feature lacking in many lower end photo editing applications.

The application contains a dizzying array of features, but novices will appreciate the fact that the utility contains a number of built in templates that can be used for automated photo editing. Prosumers will benefit from features such as batch processing and RAW mode support.

3. FileStream Image Broadway

FileStream Image Broadway is a photo editing utility that is designed to be as easy to use as possible. This doesn't, however, mean that the application is lacking in features. The application offers automated photo editing through features such as Auto Levels and Auto Contrast, but also offers full manual control of editing features. Image Broadway offers a color by color histogram, but my favorite feature is a queue that keeps track of editing actions and allows you to undo or redo editing. Rather than requiring you to blindly click an Undo icon, the program tells you exactly what editing task was performed in each step.

FileStream Image Broadway sells for $49.95, but a 30-day free trial is available for download.

4. Ashampoo Photo Optimizer

Ashampoo Photo Optimizer is an entry level photo editor. Although easy to use, it is limited to performing basic photo editing tasks such as cropping, rotating, or applying effects. The best thing about this utility is that it features a split screen view of your photo so that you can compare an intended optimization to the original photo.

Ashampoo Photo Optimizer sells for $14.99, but a free 40-day trial is available.

5. Free Image Editor

Free Image Editor is a free tool for, well, editing images. For a free application, Free Image Editor offers a surprising number of options. I also found it to be relatively easy to use. It includes a number of special effects including various color filters and distortions, as well as the ability to replace one color with another.

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About

Brien Posey is a seven-time Microsoft MVP. He has written thousands of articles and written or contributed to dozens of books on a variety of IT subjects.

9 comments
Gisabun
Gisabun

Zoner Studio is free for the first 30 days and then drops to a limited functionality [unless you pay]. Still prefer GIMP [although can be a bit confusing]. Other option is to wait until Photoshop Elements drops in price before the next version comes out [if they continue - see Adobe's announcement this week]. Recently purchased PE11 for $50.

dregeh
dregeh

I have landed on XnView (http://www.xnview.com). I keep it in a folder in my dropbox account and can run it from any of my computers that I have dropbox on. Skydrive or any other cloud storage would work just as well. It has great red-eye reduction, color editing, and the rest of the normal array of photo suite tools. It also includes a very good export tool to let you create web pages of photo albums.

hug.login
hug.login

My tool of choice and it is absolutely free!

johan.vanbrabant
johan.vanbrabant

Some Free programs that are also worth looking at: Irfanview: http://www.irfanview.com/ And 2 apps from faststone: http://www.faststone.org/ The FastStone Image Viewer which is a nice free image viewer with some tools incorporated, but what I like very much is the FastStone Photo Resizer. This is a very powerfull app for transferring pic's from one format to another while performing a number of tasks from shrinking over watermark, color adaptation, brightness, contrast, etc... The conversion can be done in batch while also rename the pic and storing it on a different location. What for me are also good price/quality programs, are the Corel applications: PaintShop Pro and Photopaint, http://www.corel.com/

a.portman
a.portman

Adobe Lightroom is only $80.00. Many professional photographers make their living with it.

a.portman
a.portman

I second TNT's choice of paint.net (getpaint.net) It is good enough that I have entered worth1000 contests with images made with it. Also, Aviary (http://www.aviary.com/) Web based and more than powerful enough unless Sports Illustrated is publishing your work on a regular basis.

TNT
TNT

I'm a Photoshop guy most of the time, but I really like Paint .Net for its clean interface and tools to make any picture look good enough to publish to the web. It's free, but I recommend donating if you like it enough to keep it. No work yet on if they are creating an RT version.

dogknees
dogknees

Is first choice for me. There are also several plugins that support RAW. The term "prosumer" kind of bugs me as it's kind of an excuse for vendors to claim their product is for "consumers" and doesn't do much or have much depth, and that "we" aren't normal consumers. I was thinking about this and recalling that as a kid I was into model aircraft, astronomy, electronics and general science nerd stuff. Similarly a couple of decades on I started programming as a hobby well before it became my job. We weren't called something other than consumers or customers, so I've got to ask, when and why did we get dropped out of the consumer group and told our applications aren't "normal"? Seems that despite our advances and protestations of vendors, we have less choice in the "consumer" realm that we did then.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

What editing tools does your organization use for its digital images? Did your organization spend a lot of money for those tools?