Data Doctor: Photoshop isn’t the only image editing option - East Valley Tribune: Business

Data Doctor: Photoshop isn’t the only image editing option

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Posted: Saturday, May 31, 2008 8:33 pm | Updated: 11:51 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Q. I want to edit my digital photos but don’t want to spend the money for Photoshop. Are there any low-cost programs that will allow me to do some reasonable editing of my photos? — Mark

Q. I want to edit my digital photos but don’t want to spend the money for Photoshop. Are there any low-cost programs that will allow me to do some reasonable editing of my photos? — Mark

A. Despite all of the advancements in digital cameras, having the ability to make adjustments to your images can make a world of difference.

Everything from red-eye correction to cropping or tilting images can be common needs for even the most experienced digital photographers.

Adobe’s Photoshop is one of the ultimate tools for manipulating images, but it really is a professional tool and is priced like one ($649).

A more consumer-focused version is called Photoshop Elements and sells for much less ($99). Photoshop Elements is a pretty powerful package, so if this is more than a casual interest, it may be worth the money and time it takes to get up to speed on something with a lot of options. You can download trial versions of any of Adobe’s software products at www.adobe.com/downloads.

A fairly powerful free alternative for photo manipulation is a program called IrfanView, written by a Bosnian by the name of Irfan Skiljan who takes donations at www.irfanview.com. It includes features that appear in Photoshop, such as blur and sharpen. It also supports many of Photoshop’s filters and has a whole host of available plug-ins to extend the feature set.

If you are an open-source software fan and already familiar with the look and feel of Photoshop, you may want to consider Gimpshop, which is built on the Gimp (GNU Image Manipulation Program) platform and mimics Photoshop’s user interface.

Open-source software can be a little more challenging to install and/or understand how to use because it’s generally written by and for the tech-savvy crowd. But if you want to give it a spin, go to http://plasticbugs.com.

Another software program that has many variations that can be added as your experience level increases is called FxFoto (www.fxfoto.com). The free version provides all of the basic editing options, but if you want to add features like panorama stitching, special crop patterns and a whole host of slide show options, you would need to upgrade to one of their pay versions.

A newer batch of image editing tools has sprung up in the form of online services. Online image editing eliminates the need to install any software on your computer and could be a better solution for those who want to work from multiple computers.

One of the most powerful online editing options is FotoFlexer (www.fotoflexer.com). In addition to the usual tools, you can add animation, cut a person out from a background, use their unique “smart resizing” tool or morph two images together. FotoFlexer also supports layers, so you can perform more sophisticated tasks with multiple images, much like you can in Photoshop.

My only complaint with this free service is their hokey banner ads that often look like an error message or that say you have a message waiting to entice you to click on it. If you can ignore the ads at the top, this is one of the best options for someone looking for free, easy and powerful image editing.

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