A photographer friend recently remarked that it’s harder to make a name for oneself these days primarily because technology has upped the bar and expectations are greater. With DSLRs more easily accessible and a variety of photo editing software available in the market, practically anyone with an interest in the field could actually go ahead and take up the hobby.
But just as there is a dozen camera options with varying brands, specs, and prices, there’s also more than a handful of software choices that can lead newbies and experts alike to one befuddling situation. Which is which and what does what? To help you decide which program to get, we’ve come up with a quick rundown of some of the top photo editing software.
Adobe Photoshop CS4: Is it for you?
Photoshop has long proven its worth in the photography and design industry. With a 20-year history and now on its 11th iteration, the tried-and-tested software has definitely undergone immense improvements over the years. Of course, there are hits-and-misses, with some users complaining that the program has gotten more complicated and harder to use with each new version. CS4 hopes to change this, however, as the newest resurrection of PS promises to simplify your life.
On top of an improved work space, CS4’s major offerings include smoother panning, zooming, and fluid canvas rotation; new adjustments panel with all the necessary tools; masks panel for quick and easy mask creation and editing; revolutionary content-aware scaling that resizes images while smartly preserving vital areas; auto-blending option that combines photos of varying focus, exposures, color, and focal point to create a single color-corrected image; auto alignment of layers; and improved Adobe Photoshop Lightroom workflow, among others.
The new features alone are a definite mouthful, and that’s without mentioning the basic features Photoshop fanatics have come to love.
Defying the elements with Photoshop Adobe Elements 7
Slated as Adobe’s photo editing software offering for the regular consumer, Photoshop Adobe Elements provides users with fewer and simpler options to fix their photos at a click of a button or a stroke of the brush. One might say it’s the fuss-free version of good ol’ Photoshop.
Found in Adobe Elements 7 is a new PhotoMerge mode called Screen Cleaner that allows users to scribble out unwanted elements in their photos when they have multiple shots of the same scene. Other fun stuff you can do with the program is let the Automated Actions do its thing in a snap: Faded Ink, Lose Weight, Resize and Crop, Caption, and Shrink. A new Touchup palette also makes photo editing a breeze with its quick fix tools like Teeth Whitener, Make Dull Sky Blue, and High Contrast Black and White. The program also has a full edit mode that would take your photo editing abilities to the next level with 50 preset effects.
Amazing captures with Nikon Capture NX 2
Sometimes, simple is still the best way to go. And for Nikon camera enthusiasts, the easiest route is probably to stick with something designed with you in mind. Now on its second version, the Nikon Capture NX 2 remains to be the best bet for Nikon shooters in search of a basic program that could iron out photography kinks. Selection Control Points enables users to pinpoint select areas in the photograph without a need for outlines or masks. Just pick an effect and click the area where you want it. There’s also a Color Control Point option that makes manipulating color, contrast, saturation, and brightness a breeze.
For unwanted wrinkles or stray strands on the face, NX 2 has an Auto Retouch Brush that removes blemishes and distracting marks while preserving the image quality. There’s also a smart Shadow/Highlight Adjustment tool that enhances or reduces shadows and highlights as needed with a slide of the button.
And what if you’re not a Nikon patron? Worry not; the program could be used on just about any TIFF 0rJPG file and has a full-featured RAW converter.
See it for yourself: ACDSee Photo Manager
Just when you thought, you’d never figure out your way around the crazy state of your My Pictures folder, ACDSee comes to the rescue, It’s designed to make photo viewing a breeze and helps put everything in place with its excellent organizing skills. You can easily drag and drop images into folders, add keywords and ratings, edit metadata, and even create categories.
And of course, not to be missed are its photo editing tools that take care of the usual suspects-red eye, that untimely zit, and the stranger in the background. It also has no-nonsense effect options like sepia, stained glass, and crayon for that interesting touch. Got photos that needs rescuing? Salvage pictures that are too light or dark with a single click with the Shadow/Highlights tool.
Roxio Creator: More ways to be creative
Now let’s assume you’re still looking for that extra something. Perhaps a software that would help you keep your memories safe, allow seamless sharing, and still be able to do decent editing. Well, Roxio Creator just might live up to your standards.
Creator is a mishmash of the features you love in other programs. Organize your images using keywords? Check. Back up files and burn onto CDs in a snap? Check. Create slideshows and videos using your still and moving shots? Check.
Add to that options for creating playlists and converting audiobook CDs into ready-to-use files for your iPod, audio file conversion, and automatically add title, genre, and artist information to music files. Oh, and of course, it’s an easy-to-use photo editing program that has the basic editing tools while also providing fun options to transform your images into cards, calendars, and other fun creations.