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Dash of Inspiration: Budget Photo Editing Tools

July 29, 2014

A Dash of Inspiration, A Cup of Creativity by Doreen

Budget Photo Editing Tools

Not every photographer, especially those new to the field, can afford the ‘pro-version’ tools for post-processing their photos. I’ve not personally tried these more affordable options, but I thought it might be helpful to some if I did the research for you and offered the list so you may check them out for yourselves.

Before I share this information, please keep the following tips in mind:

  • If the software will not allow you to save your modifications in an uncompressed format (PNG, TIFF, etc.), then you should abort testing and move on.
  • Most of the ‘shareware’ editing software does not have the level of detail in the development (layering, etc.), therefore always leave your original photograph UNTOUCHED and safely stored away. Instead use an uncompressed ‘copy’ of the photo when you edit in these programs. NEVER work in jpg – this format should only be your saved choice when your editing is complete and you are creating the file to upload.
  • Remember one of the features you pay for in tools such as; my list at the bottom, is that you work in a non-destructive environment. These less developed software options are often a very destructive environment, meaning they actually change the pixels making up your image and those changes can not be reversed – thus the reason to never work with your original file.
  • Software only helps if you LEARN what to see in your photos which need improvement; tonal values, color casts, distractions, etc. – AND, software will not correct poor composition, perspective, lack of clarity, etc.

Photo Editors on a Budget Under $100 dollars – visit the links to read the full review for each.

FREE Photo Editors

Remember,  I can not recommend any of the above tools, with the exception of Photoshop Elements and GIMP, as I have not used any of the others. The tools I use and recommend are:

So until next week … Learn … Create … Inspire!


7 Comments leave one →
  1. July 29, 2014 8:45 am

    Great advice Doreen. I’ve been considering Perfect Suite from OnOne, but am not sure if it will offer me any benefits over and above PS5, LR, and the NIK collection? Is there anything specific you feel it does in addition to the three pieces of software I mentioned? I do already have Perfect Resize though.

    • July 29, 2014 2:37 pm

      Hi Natalie – I’ve always been a ‘painter of light’ not to coin an over-used phrase, in that for years I’ve used masks in Photoshop to paint more light in dark spots, lighten dark spots and add more saturation – only where it’s needed. What I LOVE about Perfect Suite is among the extensive tool set, it has a set of ‘paint on’ tools so I can paint in added Light, Contrast, Saturation, HDR, etc. to only small areas of my image where I feel it needs a little boost or a little reduction.

      Often I do that (I use Perfect Suite as a stand alone rather than a plug in to CS5) and then bring it into CS5 and work more with Nik software. I can’t speak to Lightroom, I use Camera Raw so I really don’t know how extensive the tool set is in Lightroom – Camera Raw is great for that initial non-destructive tweaking on a raw camera image, but I don’t use it beyond that.

      I find Topaz Labs, the NIK Collection and Perfect Suite 7 to all be unique and collectively the ultimate companion tools for Photoshop for the photographic artist. But, that’s just what works for me 🙂

      • July 29, 2014 5:50 pm

        Thanks Doreen, onOne have a massive deal on the go at the moment for subscribers, of which I’m one, so I’m sorely tempted, I can get the whole lot for a smidge under $100, I’m ever so tempted.

  2. July 29, 2014 8:47 am

    I can wholeheartedly recommend – it’s free and I still prefer it for some things, even though I have PS!

  3. July 30, 2014 4:25 am

    I hope it is o.k. if I add one for the Mac users here. If not, please remove my post.

    Here >

    Thanks Doreen!

    • July 30, 2014 3:00 pm

      Absolutely, Lj! Some of those above are also available for Mac users, so the more the merrier! Thank you for sharing!

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