February 12, 2011

Bonus - "Help! What photo editing program do I use?"

I hate just about all photo software.

They all have their quirks – a little too slow, a little too clunky, a little too lightweight. So a few years back, I decided to pick one program to import, rename and fix all my photos. As I mentioned in Wednesday’s post, putting everything you do into a single program can be helpful over the long term – you’ll be able to process your photos nearly automatically.

And to be honest, as I was prepping this post, I didn’t find all that much that really knocked my socks off. It seems like you get really simple software that’s cheap and more complex software that’s crazy expensive.

What about software for the dad who just wants to do a bit of cropping and colouring? The truth is, if that’s you and you’re on a Mac, iPhoto fills the gap. It’ll download, categorize and let you make the changes you want to make without a major fuss.

But most people aren’t on a Mac – or if you are, you might already see how you’ll outgrow iPhoto.

Picasa is fast, easy to use and full of features. It’s free to use and lets you make most common edits. It’s great for organizing photo albums and even tags pictures of people you know with the right names. All in all, this is about as close you’re going to get to iPhoto without a Mac.

Photoshop’s little brother really is head and shoulders above most of the other stuff out there. This one’s approachable and easy to use (if you don’t want to dig too deep into the features) and it gives you loads of control over images. Bonus: Lots of companies bundle this software with their cameras.

Adobe Lightroom – About $300 (but there's a 30 day free trial)
I hate to slobber all over Adobe, but to my eye, they make the least annoying photo software out there. With a price tag that’s heftier than most point-and-shoot cameras, you’re only going to go this route if photography is a hobby. That said, there is no easier, smarter program on the planet for importing and editing photos (Apple’s Aperture is a near-second in this department). Beware: this one will eat up your computer system’s resources. It slowed down my Macbook Pro so frequently that I actually upgraded my computer.

There are loads and loads and loads of other options out there, but when it comes to that balance of ease-of-use and flat out firepower, these are the three photo programs that I hate the very least.

Hey! I’m running a contest! Win a 4 gig Eye Fi SD card. It’s wireless sends your photos right to your computer (or photo sharing service). All you need to do is ask a question in the comments question of the blog. Contest closes Friday night at midnight…

Next up: the one photo-taking trick I’ve never seen covered in another book or blog.

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