You’ve just bought your first DLSR camera and now you’re wondering which software program you should you use to edit your new digital photos in? And you will need a software program to edit and develop your photos because you are shooting RAW files, aren’t you?
The 800-pound (Athletic) Gorilla
Photoshop Elements 8 is the number one selling consumer photo editing software according to the NPD Group/Retail Tracking Service.
I personally started out with Photoshop Elements before I splashed out on the full version of Photoshop a couple of years later.
If you’re just starting out in digital photography the full version of Photoshop can easily be overwhelming. I would recommend to put your feet in the water with a more user-friendly photo editing software program before you start wrestling arms with the 800-pound gorilla that is the full version of Photoshop which is also a fairly significant investment for most people.
If you decide to go with Photoshop Elements and you want to get up to speed really quickly, check out David Peter’s LearnElementsNow.com.
The Corel Alternative
The Photoshop line of products is arguably very attractive and certainly worth checking out. However if you’re looking for an alternative to Adobe, then Corel’s Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 Ultimate could be a really good alternative for beginning photographers and more serious amateur photographers alike.
Corel’s Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 Ultimate usually ships for US$99.99 but you can currently get it for only US$69.99 as a limited time offer from Corel. How long this offer is limited to, however, Corel is not telling us. But whichever way you cut the cake, at the US$69.99 price tag and with all the extras that Corel has bundled into the package (see further below), the Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 Ultimate is quite a bargain.
The program’s new Express Lab feature is designed for some quick in-and-out editing. Like Photoshop Elements 8, Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 Ultimate’s editing is non-destructive (which means it saves a copy of the original photo). When you click on the Express Lab icon you get taken to a new screen, in which the picture takes up much more space and you have options like different viewing options, rotating, cropping, removing red-eye. There are also icons for Smart Photo Fix and the Makeover Tool which pop up in a right-hand pane when clicked.
Smart Photo Fix allows you to adjust brightness, shadows, highlights, and saturation on a sliding scale. The Makeover Tool allows you to remove blemishes, smoothen out wrinkles, spray on a fake tan, make your subjects look thinner, and you can even whiten teeth and bloodshot eyes.
In addition to the Express Lab, the X2 Ultimate also has a lot of individual editing tools, ranging from one-click fixes to some more advanced functionality. Some of the more simple features include one-step noise removal, a straightening tool and a neat tool to correct perspective of buildings etc. It also includes special effects across 11 different categories with 86 individual effects (this is only slightly less than Photoshop Elements 8).
You can also process your RAW files in the X2 Ultimate, and you can adjust colours, repair damaged photos (such as your scans of old family photos), remove distracting objects, adjust levels and curves, apply sharpening, fix lens distortion, use a depth-of-field effect and add watermarks to your images.
Lots of Cool Extras
Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 Ultimate ships with some cool extras including Photo recovery software which works on most of the common media cards. It also comes with a Creative Content Pack which includes 150 frames and other effects; Background Remover; Painter Photo Essentials 4 for converting photos into artwork; and a 2GB flash drive.
I’d encourage you to take a look at the full feature list of what X2 Ultimate has to offer. It’s quite impressive!
Other Affordable Photo Editing Software Programs
In addition to the great products offered by Adobe and Corel there are of course several other really good, affordable photo editing software programs on the market.
So it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune to get a good software package to edit your photos with. All of the products highlighted above are in the sub-US$200 and sub-US$100 categories.
Whichever product you decide to get, have fun editing your photos!