View Full Version : Best Photo Software???

jonathan smith
14-Jan-2004, 03:17
What are everyone's opinions on the best photo software? From Photoshop on down?

I am looking for something that could burn and dodge, lighten, darken, adjust color, etc. All the things you would normally be able to do in the darkroom to perfect a print. I doubt if I would use fancy features like effects or piecing together photos so I'm not eager to just buy Photoshop. Currently I use a couple of programs that came with scanners and digital cameras, but they just do the very basics. What do you all use?



Leonard Evens
14-Jan-2004, 04:35
Try the Gimp. It is open source software and it won't cost you anything. It is designed to be used under Linux of another Unix type system, but there are Windows and Mac versions. The basic website is www.gimp.org, and you can find out there how to get the Windows version. Downloading and installing it looks more complicated than it is. If you look carefully, you will find a site which gives you two files to download and install and that is all you need. The Mac version can be found at www.macgimp.org. At www.gimp.org, you will find a link to a book 'Grokking the Gimp', which is a very good introduction to using the program and to photoediting in general.

The Gimp is a very powerful program and it can do more than programs like Photoshop Elements but not everything that the full Photoshop can do. Its major drawback is that the current version is restricted to 24 bit color, although it can read 48 bit color files. (Photoshop is also so limited for many of the more complex operations.)

Larry Gebhardt
14-Jan-2004, 06:07
Picture Window Pro (http://www.dl-c.com/Temp/) is the best Photoshop alternative I have found. It does most everything PS does.

Rich Long
14-Jan-2004, 06:09
Paint Shop Pro is hard to beat for under $100. If you have a fast connection (or a lot of time) you can download an 'evaluation copy' from their webpage. As I recall, the evaluation is a full version that will quit working after 30 days. At least that's what it was several years ago when I tried it out.


Tony Galt
14-Jan-2004, 07:16
I'd second the motion about Picture Window Pro. It does a great many things and is designed specifically for editing photographs, not for general graphic arts purposes (although it will allow a certain amount of that as well). The newest version has some very sophisticated sharpening tools in it. I believe you can download a demo version from the site linked in Larry Gebhardt's posting above. I've been using it since version 2 (It is up to 3.5 now) and have never felt the need for Photoshop (which is available to me on my work computer and is thus familiar). It also costs a fraction of what PhotoShop costs.

14-Jan-2004, 07:58
Photoshop Elements. My copy came free with the Olympus E20. I have Elements installed on my PC, and the full Photoshop 7.0 on the eMac, and so far haven't found anything that I can't do easier with Elements.

Emmanuel BIGLER
14-Jan-2004, 08:21
Like Leonard, I vote for the GIMP. Not because I have tested many competitors, simply because I haven't used any proprietary software for 5 years, and because the GIMP does anything I need ;-);-) One common objection against the GIMP was that it was difficult to properly calibrate a digital picture chain. Call it ICC profiles if you like, since I do not use any calibrated color printing environment, I do not care for the moment. Recently I've seen that calibration and ICC profiles have been integrated into the GIMP.
One thing fascinating with the GIMP like many open software of modular architecture, is that you can freely download as many add-ons or plug-ins that you would test. You do not have to read the last report in your favourite photo magazine to decide whether it is worth spending $$$ to ugrade to the last 9.45 version or if this plug-in is really worth the money. You can just download freely all versions of the GIMP including old ones if you wish ;-);-) ; and as far as exotic plug-ins are concerned, there are many. Recently I downloaded a plug-in that computes the Fourier transform of an image, so that I can play like optical engineers did with their spatial filtering Fourier Optics in the 1970s ;-);-)

Ralph Barker
14-Jan-2004, 14:19
I use Photoshop - mostly because it is the industry "standard" and I sometimes need to exchange pre-production image files with graphics pros who also use Photoshop. I've also heard good things from users of Paint Shop Pro, however, which is much less expensive.

One point to remember about burning-in with digital scans, however. The image editing program can only work with the data present in the scan, so "burning in" simply adds general density, not additional detail as it would under an enlarger. Thus, it is sometimes better to make two scans, one for highlights and the other for shadow detail, and then selectively merge the layers in the image editing program. Most of the other editing functions work in a manner similar to their analog equivalent.

Paul M
23-Jan-2004, 09:42
OK. PhotoShop IS the standard and is extremely comprehensive. But it's expensive and it's overkill for someone who is only looking to manage and correct personal photographs.

PhotoShop elements is probably better - and it is what I use (mostly because I am used to it).

Picture Window Pro is also excellent and much less expensive, but it doesn't have many automatic correction tools that are useful for amateur/home users and it doesn't accept Photoshop plugins - some of which are very useful.

I have one more suggestion, if you are looking for something that is simple, cheap and accepts plugins I think you should try Mediachance's PhotoBrush. It is very well thought out, it only costs $38.00 and it approaches photo correction in a way that makes sense for people who are unfamiliar with Photoshop.

You can get it here:


If you Google it - you will also see that it has some excellent reviews.

Good Luck.

Gary DeWitt
23-Jan-2004, 11:13
Paint Shop Pro.

I have used PhotoShop, PS Elements and Paint Shop Pro. My preferences if for PhotoShop, but Paint Shop Pro is a very close second. I like it much better than Elements and, at under $100 it is a great bargain.

jonathan smith
24-Jan-2004, 03:22
Thanks everybody, I'm going to evaluate some of these demos and I appreciate your leads.