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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