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Image Editing Software
Jim Doty, Jr.

Digital photography includes being able to edit or optimize your photos. You can change the brightness, contrast, and color saturation. You can increase sharpness, add or take away objects or people, and correct flaws in the photo. There are basic things anyone can do and amazing things that truly skilled people can do. Your photos will look their best if you learn and use some good image editing software.

There are a lot of software packages that will allow you to do this, ranging in price from free to several hundred dollars. I've used Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Photoshop LE, Ulead PhotoImpact, Paint Shop Pro, Kai's Photo Soap, and other image editing software. They all do the basic stuff pretty well, some being much easier to use, others being more powerful. I have two favorites which I recommend.

Adobe Photoshop is the "800 pound gorilla" on top of the image editing mountain. It is arguably the best and most powerful image editing software. It is far and away the preferred software for professionals.The learning curve is steep, but well worth it for what this software can do. The biggest disadvantage is the nearly $600 price tag.

I cut my teeth on versions 4.0 and 5.5 when I was teaching at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. I bought 5.5 for myself, skipped versions 6 and 7 and upgraded to Photoshop CS when it was released. The latest and greatest is Photoshop CS2.

If you want to be able to do everything, and are willing to learn, this is the software to buy.  If you are using versions 4 through 7, it is worth the upgrade to go right to CS2. If you have version CS, it may not be worth the price to go to CS2. I might just wait to see what the next version brings.

Photoshop Elements is the software for the rest of us with a price tag that is usually somewhere around $100. I highly recommend Photoshop Elements as the best software in its price range. It will do all of the basic stuff that Photoshop will do, and some of the fancier stuff. If you ever decide to move up to Photoshop, you will have a big head start.

I've used versions 1, 2, and 3. Version 4 is now available. If you have version 1 or 2, it is worth the money to get version 3. It has the HEALING BRUSH tool from Photoshop which is worth the price of the upgrade alone.

What about version 4? I am not yet ready to recommend it. It is getting a lot of mixed reviews. Some people think it is a step backwards and others really like it. I'm in no rush to try it. I can recommend version 3 but version 4 will have to wait until I hae tried it. You can download and use version 4 for 30 days and see if you like it before you buy it.

If you buy The Hidden Power of Photoshop Elements 3 by Richard Lynch, you get a software disc that adds many of the features of the expensive version of Photoshop. Now you have much of Photoshop's power for an extra $27. Such a deal.

Don't confuse Elements with Photoshop LE (limited edition). LE comes bundled free with a number of photography items. It is ok, but lacks a lot of the power of Photoshop Elements. Elements is a much better product.

One of the highly recommended software packages from a smaller, "we try harder" company is Picture Window Pro from Digital Light and Color. I can't give it a personal recommendation since I haven't used it myself, but it is highly regarded by sources that I trust. You can read a lot about it at Norman Koren's site. The software has a lot of powerful functionality for about $90. You can download a free 30-day trial.

Save some money and support this site at the same time.  Order your Photoshop or Elements software from by using these links. If you want the latest version of Photoshop and you already have an earlier version, get the upgrade. If not, get the full version.

Adobe Photoshop CS2:

Upgrade for Win 2000/XP

Upgrade for Mac OS X

Full version for Win 2000/XP

Full version for Mac OS X

Photoshop Elements:

Version 3 for Win 2000/XP

Version 3 for Mac OS X

Versions 4 for Win 2000/XP

The Hidden Power of Photoshop Elements 3 by Richard Lynch

December 9, 2005

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