In Part 1, we talked about how lots of people want the power and flexibility of Photoshop, but they want it in an easy to use package that doesn’t cost the earth. With that in mind, we looked for the best alternatives to Photoshop for photographers on a budget. Here are a few more:
Pixlr (Web) – Not all photo software has to be downloaded and installed on your computer, and Pixlr is perhaps the best example of that. You access it on the web at http://pixlr.com and simply upload the photos that you want to work on. There are actually three tools at the Pixlr site. The Editor is the most powerful, and apes a lot of the user interface and features that you find in Adobe Photoshop. Pixlr Express is an easier version of the Editor, and is meant for quick fixes, while Pixlr O-matic is best for special effects, borders and filters. All of them are free, and come with the added bonus that if you learn how to use them, you can do so on any computer, anywhere, if you have Internet access.
Picasa (Mac/Windows) – Google’s Picasa is a simple, yet effective, way to organize and edit all your photos. It is also not light on features. There are a variety of filters and special effects, as well as the ability to show images side by side as you edit them in a before and after view. You can create slideshows, collages, and screensavers, while editing controls include the ability to crop, sharpen, rotate, resize and even add a watermark to protect your intellectual copyright. It works on Windows and Mac computers, and because it is owned by Google, it will also link up with your Google+ account for sharing online. Compared to Photoshop, there is not much of a contest here, but it is easy to use, and all your edits are saved as a new file, preserving the original version in case you ever want to go back and edit it differently. Download Picasa here.
PhotoPlus (Windows) – Need a simple, yet effective photo editor? If so, Serif’s PhotoPlus might be for you. The Starter Edition is free and gives you a good idea of what you might want to pay for if you decide to pay the $67 upgrade for the full version. The Automated How To tab helps you learn the software quickly, and it’s ideal for beginners who want to know how to make some quick and easy edits to their images. Highlights and recent additions include a quick selection tool, a non-destructive cropping tool, noise reduction, RAW support, layers, masks and more. Try PhotoPlus here.
Adobe Photoshop Elements (Windows/Mac) – Now, if you are looking for alternatives to Adobe Photoshop, you might think that this pick defeats the purpose of your quest, but it doesn’t. Elements may be the little brother to the full version of Adobe Photoshop, but it every time it gets updated, it inherits something new from its older sibling. Elements is designed for quick, and easy editing, and there are an abundance of tutorials on YouTube that will teach you to do just about anything you want to know for free. The latest version currently retails for around $80, but, if you can find it, you can often save money by buying last year’s version. Photoshop Elements is easily equal to anything on this list, and is better than most, so if you are looking for something you can grow into, this is still a great choice! Learn more about Photoshop Elements here.
Of course, these aren’t the only options available, but they are some of the most popular and most widely used. Other products worth checking out include GIMP (Free), Zoner Photo Studio (Free to $89), ACDSee (Varies), or Sumopaint (Free to $19). Each have their own strengths and weaknesses, but if you take the time to explore them, it is likely that you will find at least one that will suit your needs as a full blown Photoshop replacement.
~ Jonathan Wylie