Best Photo Editing software to buy
- Wed, 8 Sep 2010
Not sure which photo editing software to buy? We think these are the best photo editing packages out there, and some of them are free!
Adobe Photoshop CS5 (Mac & PC) £644
The pinnacle of photo editing, Photoshop offers full Adobe Camera Raw capabilities to handle not only Raw but most imaging file types. It has a huge variety of complex editing tools and the new GPU-enhanced 64-bit install means it's faster too.
Run multiple layers, use improved selection tools, create accurate masks, and select from a multitude of brushes to heal, copy, dodge and burn. New features include intelligent tools that auto-fill areas based on content (Content-Aware Fill and Content Aware Scale) as well as HDR control, panorama stitching, auto-alignment and lens correction presets. For all its brilliance the only issue for many is its asking price.
Pros: Fast, accurate, intelligent tools, complete control
Cons: Cost of purchase
Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 (Mac & PC) £66
Elements is a stripped-down version of Photoshop, but for most editing tasks it provides a considerable portfolio of tools. The ability to read Raw files and make adjustments using the majority of tools featured in full Photoshop still stands strong. Version 8 also introduces Photomerge Exposure and Recompose features.
Pros: Affordable, complex tools, Layers
Cons: May not be worth the upgrade from Elements 7
Corel Paintshop Photo Pro X3 (PC only) £60
Corel's long-standing presence in the photo-editing world has seen much innovation. Paintshop Photo Pro X3 sees a great deal of the capabilities from Photoshop-style editing to Raw conversion, organising and tagging images all in the one package and for a low cost. The Express Lab feature enters a basic editor for simple adjustments, or use the full Raw Lab and advanced editing tools for a more comprehensive experience. For all its merit PSP-PX3 is a little slow at times, CPU-intensive and only available for Windows. Try the free trial download to see if it's for you.
Pros: Lots of features for little cost
Cons: No Mac version, CPU-intensive, can be slow
Gimp (Mac, PC & Linux) £Free
Gimp is the most advanced free editing software out there as it offers dodge, sharpen, multiple layers and the ability to crop, rotate and transform or distort. Make paths to cut out images or quick select using various tools - there's lots of functionality. Occasionally unresponsive and a bit slow to run at times, Gimp is an otherwise great free platform.
Pros: It's free, relatively advanced tools
Cons: Can be slow and unresponsive
Google Picasa (Mac & PC) £Free
Don't expect the world from Picasa's editing, yet its simple, straightforward approach is very easy to use. Most adjustments are presets that can change colour, contrast and tone, including black and white conversion with the ability to select filter colour for base light-colour resistance. No layers or hugely complex tools here, but what is on offer is done very well.
Pros: It's free, easy to use
Cons: Fairly basic adjustments
If you're unsure on how to edit photos view our How to edit photos and use Photoshop page.