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Archive for June, 2012

Best Photo Editors for 2012

June 19th, 2012 No Comments

Way back when, there was no such thing as ‘photo editing’.  If you wanted a colour negative printed with particular filtration or wanted to dupe and sepia-tone an old print, you had to head to the photo studio.  Then along came PhotoShop and its competitors, which you had to pay a pretty penny for and keep on your hard-drive.  Now, it’s all ‘out there’ on the Net . . . and it’s free!  True blue photo editors that professionals can use are available online at no charge.  

Here’s a roundup of a few best-in-class entries.

Photoshop Express 

PhotoShop Express is a smooth-as-silk online app.  It may as well be called ‘PhotoShop Lite’ for, in truth, that’s what it is.  You do not get layer-based photo editing though you do get basic photo editing tools such as burning, dodging and red-eye correction.   PhotoShop Express, like most of its online brethren, is geared for novices and beginners.  To this end it offers a large array of predetermined clickable choices respecting contrast, tint, and so forth plus fancy effects for party photos and greeting cards.  Though you cannot fine-tune saturation and colour hues using RGB / CMYK sliders, boy, is it easy to use.

Fotoflexer 

Fotoflexer is a smart and useful entry in the field.  It is an approach-based or needs-centric app. You enter it by choosing what task you want to complete.  Unlike most photo editors Fotoflexer does not lay out all the features straightaway on a plate.  The initial category-by-category interface is a boon for newbies to photo editing who get to understand their options up-front instead of getting overwhelmed with a gazillion tools, preferences, and menu items when they start editing their photo (or ‘canvas’).  That said, the choices are manifold: from plain-jane ‘Shapes’ to a nifty new functionality, ‘Distortion’.  One caveat is that it is comparatively quite slow to load.  Another is that a few bugs need to be squashed.

Pixlr 

The heavy-duty online photo editor of choice is probably Pixlr which provides PhotoShop-like tools.  Use this app to create images from scratch as well as manipulate existing images into a mind-numbing variety of styles and effects.  More relevant, it includes tools for standard photographic techniques, such as dodging and burning, plus manipulation techniques such as solarization, posterization and a brilliant ‘Kaleidoscope’ effect, all of which are applicable to the canvas or to the selected marquee, and are easily mixed and matched.

Pixlr’s professional chops are indicated by the fact that it provides for multiple layers a la PhotoShop and other similar software.  All the familiar tools and editing functions respecting colour curves, contrast, and saturation are available to the hilt.  Indeed, in layout, feature-set, user interface, and overall impression it is clearly targeted to professional photographers and designers on the go.  Its various effects are not discrete but vary over a continuous range (use the slider or key in a number) and the degree of effect is displayed in real-time.  Interestingly, this feature-rich pro-quality online editor is much quicker to load than competing photo editors which are not quite as powerful.

A bonus for Mac Lovers 

In a roundup of photo editing software it would be remiss not to mention an ever-youthful OS X warhorse, for it is (oxymoron alert) a ‘bleeding-edge grandaddy!  Prosaically-named GraphicConverter is sheer poetry to use.  It has been around since the days of pre-OS X coloured iMacs and, after repeated rebirths, is one of the ‘go to’ choices for well over a million users, many of them professionals.  On a platform targeted to multimedia, one which is flooded with PhotoEditors including those from Apple itself, GraphicConverter is a leader.

Technically, GraphicConverter is not free; it costs €35.  Practically, however, it is a free app because much, if not most, of its functionality is available indefinitely in the trial version.  Though it is the champion of file format conversions it is also the ‘sleeper’ among photo editors.  The richness of its toolset and feature-set can scarcely be described here; suffice it to say that everything that has been mentioned above is available plus quite a few pro-level effects and features.  Dither, vectorization, alpha-channelling, assortments of colour permutation and destructive-effect filters Ð it’s all here.  What’s more, most features are customizable and adjustable so the user has both, power and fine control. 

So there you have it: four wonderful photo editors to choose from.  Confused about your choices?  I’ll simplify them for you.  If you’re a novice who wants to doodle and funkify her snapshots, go with PhotoShop Express.  If you’re an intermediate photographer who is not familiar with photo editors but is comfortable with software and wants to take the next step on the photo-and-image-processing ladder, try Fotoflexer.  If you’re a semi-pro or pro designer or photographer who wants a serious app for producing high-quality images and precisely calibrating your photographs, Pixlr is for you.  And if you (like yours truly) love photography, image-processing, and Mac OS X, go grab GraphicConverter!

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