Photo editing software or photo software allows you to create and modify bitmap graphics and photographic images. Photo programs can be used for tasks such as painting and drawing, colour correction, enhancement of photos, creating special effects, conversion of images from one type to another, adding text to graphics etc. Some of the most popular software tools available today include Irfan View, Photoshop elements, photo retouching services CS suites and Aperture for Apple Mac: as well as Gimp and Inkscape – open source alternatives.
IrfanView is a piece of photo software that lets you open and edit images. If offers an exhaustive list of advantages and features such as speed, a compact image viewer, being simple to use especially for beginners, support for many media formats including multimedia, multi-language support, thumbnail option, options for painting and very controllable slideshows. Moreover it is free for individual use and is very user-friendly in terms of the GUI it presents to the user.
The major disadvantage, is that it does not offer some of the very advanced imaging capabilities and also it is not available natively on the Mac. Among the photo programs, it is an excellent choice for people who need to work quickly, avoid a very steep learning curve and simply want to balance, crop and save an image for the next step in their work. It probably isn’t a good choice for a professional photographer, except as a very quick form of software photo editing.
Photoshop Elements is an adaptation of Adobe Photoshop and is available for as low a price as USD $99. Nevertheless, it has a strong set of software tools. The user interface is simpler than Photoshop while retaining the core photo editing functions. Thus Photoshop Elements is like a scaled down version of PhotoShop. It focuses on digital photography and on an RGB workflow. Some of the more complex photo editing features such as Curves, Channel Mixer, and Color Balance have been disabled, making the GUI more manageable, with a friendlier learning curve. The major advantages of Photoshop Elements include: an easy GUI structure to navigate and that it is cheaper than Photoshop. The only disadvantage is that some of the higher-end features are removed.
Adobe Photoshop CS is a set of software programs for image editing that is considered to be the industry standard for graphics professionals. Although meant for professionals, it is also available for students at a fraction of the original cost. The main features of Photoshop as a photo editor, are the flexibilities it offers for media creation, editing and authoring. The file format is compatible with any of the individual programs that are available in the suite. As the de facto king of the photo programs, it has many tools for advanced photo editing, including a bewildering array of special effects services. The disadvantages of this suite of photo editing programs include: features you will never use; highly expensive and it takes massive processing power from the computer system.
Aperture is Apple Mac photo editing software. The Mac enthusiasts claim its advantages are; that it includes an all in one Inspector to consolidate the projects, adjustment panes, quick image search, accelerated performance, advanced photo editing capabilities such as superb color fidelity, etc. The disadvantage of Aperture is that it can be used only on Mac operating systems. Among the photographers that I know personally, this photo software is growing in stature amongst popular photo editing programs.
The Open Source movement is also muscling in on the act with Gimp (which is gaining recognition amongst photo editing programs) and Inkscape; (a vector drawing program) which is very good indeed for developing plans, maps and other graphics that need to be drawn. I haven’t yet got to grips with Gimp as a photo editor, but I have used Inkscape regularly over the last year and it is a fully featured graphics software. I recommend that you give these new open source graphic softwares a good look before spending hundreds on Photoshop or Aperture photo software. In terms of value for money; like Irfan View, they are incomparable. Amonst the paid for photo editing programs, Photoshop Elements is going to be a more than adequate for anything that you need to do for the web unless you are going down the road of becoming career graphic designers. For these individuals and for professional photographers the photo programs of choice will almost certainly be Photoshop CS for PC based workers and Aperture if you are on the Mac platform.