Digital image editors mix painting and drawing tools with some features specific to digital imaging. Digital imaging is the creating of images from the physical environment. That normally means using cameras or scanners which have two additional features you should know about:
- Digital imaging systems produce a raw image file which is the image detected by the sensors. This raw image is processed to produce an image file, most commonly the JPEG image format, which we then view and edit in our digital image editor. The Raw files are often described as "digital negatives" because they have a similar role to the negatives produced by film photography. For this article, you just need to know that some digital image editors are able to decode Raw files and provide further options for editing those images.
- When a raw image is created the camera or scanner also stores information about the state of the imaging device and the physical conditions. This data is called meta-data because it is "data about data". You just need to know that there are standard formats for storing this meta-data. The two most common standards being Exif (Exchangeable Image File) and DCF (Design rule for Camera File system).
I have deliberately looked for application programs that allow you to examine and edit these two features: process raw images and view or edit Exif/DCF data.
There are many good products which is why there are so many options in this category. Just remember that very few are general-purpose so most users will benefit from mixing products from the this category and the image viewer and photo organizer categories.
This article does not include on-line or web-based digital image editors which are reviewed in their own category Best Free Web-Based Image Editor
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Previous versions of this article have used three groupings which I am supplementing with a fourth group for suites:
- Basic editors are programs that only allow you to edit an existing image: "those little gems that help you quickly and easily make small adjustments to the overall lighting, colors, and tones of your images without the clutter of a lot of advanced tool sets. These also offer such tools as cropping, sharpening, and red eye correction." Ease of use is the key.
- Mid-level editors offer more advanced tools like layers, adding captions and shapes, the ability to select portions of the image and make adjustments to just those portions, etc. These will also offer filters for applying textures, artistic effects, edge enhancements, borders and frames. The breadth of image enhancements and drawing tools are the most important considerations.
- Advanced editors have advanced photographic features that work with the features of specific cameras and the files that they generate. They usually compete with professional programs like Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro in some aspects if not all. The primary criterion is the ability to work with imaging from many devices.
- Digital imaging suites that bundle related modules or programs to extend the functionality of the core image editor. The extra features can be both basic and advanced so the suites generally cover all three levels of capability. There is no primary criterion for this group because they cover aspects of the other three classes.
The following are key features that will help you to decide which digital image editor is best for you.
- Context-sensitive help and other assistance. Tutorials are particularly important.
- Preview or comparison view. The example on the right is from Visions ⟹.
- Undo/Redo to multiple levels as shown in the far-right image of the undo list in PhotoPad ⟹⟹.
- Batch processing and scripting allows the same editing steps to be applied to multiple images in a consistent manner.
- Support for sharing of images through email, web uploads and social media.
Basic photo features
- Straightening in the two-dimensional sense usually means rotating the entire image. The easiest method is to draw a line to indicate where the horizon should be and let the program rotate the photo for you as Imagina does in the example image on the right ⟹.
- Cropping images to cut out unneeded elements. The best cropping tools allow the aspect ratio to fit a specific output format such as a standard photo print size.
- Scaling, resizing and re-sampling to fit your output requirement.
- Photo correction tools including lighten/darken, sharpen/blur, and red-eye reduction.
- Captions, timestamps, and borders.
Drawing and painting features
- Layers allow objects and effefts to be separated from the original image and from each other. Layers also allow drawn objects to retain their properties when an image file is saved.
- Vector graphic and font support so that drawn objects are scale independent while you are working with them.
- Drawing tools including lines, brushes, shapes/polygons, clip art, fonts, accompanied by transformations that alter the drawn objects.
- Complex selections including silhouettes, tracing, and clipping paths. This allows areas to be selected by the outline, based on a colour, or by any shape that you want. The example to the right shows the Chasys IES Artist's magic wand selecting a shade of black anywhere in the image ⟹.
- Drawing file format support e.g. EPS, SVG, DDS (for games).
Advanced photo features
- View metadata provided from the source camera or scanner. EXIF/DCF and Raw metadata have been mentioned in the introduction.
- Advanced straightening consists of several similar features that even allow 3D-like manipulation. Perspective correction and vertical straightening are often used to provide square faces to buildings as shown in the example ⟹. Warping using a grid or mesh allows lens distortions (pincushion, barrel, fish-eye, moustache) to be.
- Image enhancement tools like cloning, blending, and combining images.
- Plug-ins to provide additional features: tools, filters, and file import & export formats.
- Raw file support. Raw images are direct from the camera or scanner sensors before any pre-processing attempts to correct the image to match the human eye. This feature can be provided by plug-ins.
Professional color support
HDR (High-Dynamic Range) support. Normally, 255 levels (8 bits) are used for each color of Red, Green & Blue (RGB) and the alpha channel to make up 32-bit color. 255 levels is not very much if are performing complex transformations and the rounding errors can become significant. So if you want to retain as much detail as possible then you should consider using 16-bits per channel to retain highlights and ensure smooth transitions in colors without any banding. That is why the HDR file formats are important. Some programs are limited to 8-bits per channel and others require plug-ins.
Suitable file formats for HDR also provide for metadata, transparency, color management, and some handle layers (L) too. A couple are vector-based (V). The main difference between them all is the maximum bits for greater color depth.
- Device dependent but normally 32-bit: Adobe EPSVL
- 32-bit: IMA, TIFF (floating), SVGVL.
- 64-bit: freedesktop.org's ORAL, Photoline's PLDL, Photoshop's PSDL, XAMLVL
- 128-bit: EXR (used for video rendering), Microsoft's HD Photo/JPEG XR and DDSV (used for gaming)
- Color management to reproduce colors accurately on various devices, for example, displayed on your screen and printed on paper. The Windows Color System (WCS) is not enabled by default. The following two features are part of color management ⟹.
- Color space conversion (gamut mapping between different color spaces) allows the best representation of colours. sRGB is usually the default.
Rendering intent which indicates the priority for color representation. The International Color Consortium (ICC) has four profiles that are used to match the image color space to the output device color space. Two factors determine the colors you will see. What happens to colors that fall outside the output device gamut and what happens to the white point.
- absolute maintains the original white point which may not match the output device so it often looks wrong to us because it produces a color cast.
- saturation is best for graphics where exact colors don't matter.
- relative is good for photographers: it fits colors within the boundaries but does not adjust any other colors within the boundaries.
- perceptual is also good for photographers: it fits colors within the boundaries and adjusts the other colors to preserve relative differences between them.
Several articles review programs with similar functions:
Best Free Digital Image Viewer reviews software to visualize images and includes many products that have their own editing capabilities.
Best Free Web-Based Image Editor has the web-based equivalents.
Best Free Paint Program also works with bitmaps but focuses on creating paint-like images.
Best Free Digital Photo Organizer reviews photo-cataloguing software that usually has the ability to link with photo editors and often has its own editing capabilities.
Best Free Vector Graphics Editor looks at image editors that don't rely on bitmap or raster graphics to produce images or drawings.
Like its online equivalent, Autodesk's Pixlr Desktop (for Windows or Mac) is part of the new wave of easy to use but powerful image editors with many special effects. It has two levels of features for free use. If you settle for the default Starter edition then you have access to a broad set of transformations. Once you sign-in you unlock the Essentials edition which has "HD border packs, 45 degree overlay rotation, and blending". These additions are indicated by a pink ribbon the first time you use them as illustrated in the example screenshot.
You will generally be working at the photo level because masking and the ability to select elements of the image are reserved for the paid Pro edition. Most of us will be more than satisfied with the free version because some of the transformations can be localised. While Pixlr is not a paint program - there are no drawing tools and no layers - it does have the usual basic visual controls and fixes. It also has clipart (called stickers), backgrounds (overlays), and many special effects.
The menu and toolbar are consistent and easy to use too. The on-line user guide is easy to follow but most of us will never need to refer to it. So it is a very good choice for any beginner.
PhotoPad Image Editor is free for "non-commercial home use". It would be a top product except a few significant issues which I explain below. On the upside it is a very good photo editor for basic users because it has a very consistent interface with tabbed toolbars that duplicate the main menu apart from the View menu. It has a few surprises like the ability to open many image formats including many Raw formats. The downside is that the editing interface is not highly responsive making it difficult to accurately size objects and select values on a slider.
The feature that really sets PhotoPad apart from the other programs is the history and layers sidebar which shows everything that you have done. Although layers aren't explicitly defined by users PhotoPad uses them so you can click on a history item and see what your image looked like at any stage of editing. You can remove any effect from the history and that change will propagate through the layers to the final image. When you save your work as a project file it will reopen with all the history. But if you save it in one of the limited number of savable image formats (BMP, JPEG, PNG) then the history will be lost. Just be aware that PhotoPad has to reapply all the changes which can take minutes for the completed image to appear. This is one example where PhotoPad is not very responsive for users.
PhotoPad has an extensive range of features that could mean that you don't have to download other software. Built-in are tools to combine photos into a panorama, a collage, or a mosaic (which was not random enough for me). Plus you can share your images using Flickr, Facebook, email, DropBox and Google Drive. However, its greatest limitation is that it has no drawing tools apart from a pen and an online clipart collection. This will frustrate you if you need to do some blending. All tools can apply to the whole image or a region which can be selected using any polygon shape, a lasso, a magnet (to select along the edges of an element) or a wand to select a region with similar attributes.
You need to be aware of the following issues. The cloning tool is called "Touch Up". There is a "suite" of programs that you can optionally and individually install but they are paid products so you will have to find and download a free version if NCH has one. Some of NCH's free versions are trialware. When you install PhotoPad there will be a few follow-up activities like rating the product but there is a misleading pop-up that tells you how to speed up your system. The download links for NCH's free software can be hard to find on the website. But if you do have problems then you can refer to the online help which I found to be very good, the video tutorials, the FAQs, and the support forum. Unlike many other programs the Help menu provides a comprehensive list of links to the NCH website.
Photo! Editor is the easiest photo editor I have used. The straighten tool is a good example of this: simply draw a line across the image where it should be level and Photo! Editor rotates it to suit. It has all of the basic enhancement tools to adjust brightness, contrast, saturation, and color cast, and some retouching or "make-up" tools that work similar to the coveted healing brush in more professional editors like Photoshop.
There is a lot of help and examples. Just be sure to pay attention to the little down arrows next to the tool bar icons. Those will help you access the more powerful manual options.
The downsides to this program are that it has not been updated for several years, there is no support from the developer, and there is no clear upgrade path when you want to develop your photo editing skills further.
LightBox Free Image Editor is an excellent editor for basic users. It has lots of specific help and tutorials that will assist a beginner. It automatically saves files with "_edited" appended to the filename which is good protection for beginners.
It also has a lot of features that will keep the average user happy including simple tools to correct red-eye, sharpen, crop, re-size, add borders, and Raw file processing.. The attractive user interface is simple and straight forward with most features using intuitive slide-bar adjustments. My favourite feature, which most editors don't have, is the split screen view so you can compare your images before and after the adjustments you have made.
There are some annoying issues: the highlight box around Auto balance examples is grey rather than a highlight; printing is usable but is rudimentary and sometimes does not pick the printer page size correctly. The biggest issue is that the program is not being updated, just like Photo! Editor. But at least LightBox Free Image Editor has an assured upgrade path to the more fully-featured paid version.
Visions is included because it has a very distinctive interface, the most modern look out of all these products.
It has a 3D image viewing gallery which people really like, an "editing room" with lots of basic effects able to be previewed, a "printing house" which allows greeting cards, postcards and photo frames to be printed, and a sharing centre for uploading images to Flick.
It has not had many changes in the last couple of years so there may not be any more plug-ins being developed. I noticed some little inconsistencies but overall it is a good attempt to move away from trying to look like Photoshop - it actually looks much better.
PhotoFiltre version 7 is an excellent mid-level editor with a comprehensive feature set but not HDR nor Raw file support. Among the latest features are layers, support for some Photoshop 8bf filters, a multi-selection mode, a plug-in for animated GIFs, and other plug-ins. It still has some features that the other editors in this class don't have such as batch processing and a scanner interface.
Simple adjustments can be made fairly quickly using the tool bar buttons, or you can make more advanced adjustments by delving deeper into the menus. Basic users will find this difficult because there is little guidance about some effects.
Like other editors in this category drawn elements become part of the image canvas once they are de-selected. Now that there are layers, your drawn elements can be placed on another layer where you continue to work with them.
Paint.Net is also a very good mid-level photo retouching choice with a modern interface. It has a nice set of photo correction tools including curves, and levels. My favorite is the Layer Roll / Rotate tool which has 3 axes so it can be used to correct perspective and create some interesting effects.
It has a very nice implementation of layers complete with blending modes, and adjustable opacity/transparency levels. It has a fairly full pallet of selection, painting, and shape drawing tools. It is completed with a selection of filters for adding special effects to your images.
Be aware that some transformations are slow and it requires Microsoft .NET Framework to be installed which it will do automatically.
Artweaver is primarily a paint program and would not be in this category if it was not for the Image | Adjustments menu. It might be edged out by other applications I review but at the moment I agree with the previous editor that it "has a curves and levels tool that works a little better than Paint.Net".
It uses a rather monochromatic interface which sets it apart from the other editors. And the tool and color palettes on display are clearly focused on painting rather than photos but that is largely the case with more advanced image editors trying to look like Photoshop.
Artweaver is extensible by plug-ins for effect filters, file formats, and importing and exporting from devices which could include cameras and scanners. This is also a feature of more advanced image editors.
GIMP is the most advanced image editor for drawing and painting that you will get for free. It also runs on the most computer platforms. Given it's origins in Linux you will find quite a few features that don't work the Windows way. For example, I use Windows libraries and GIMP does not so I have to find my files the long way. It also defaults to a multi-windowed interface which makes it a little unusual for Windows but there is now an option to dock the tool windows within the main GIMP window.
It has a steeper learning curve than the previously reviewed editors largely because it has more features but the differences from Windows standards are also a factor. So if you are inexperienced at using image editing programs, then GIMP will likely be too overwhelming to start learning on. Instead try one of the more basic editors first.
Many of its photographic image editing features come from the use of plug-ins which provide access to many Photoshop 8bf filters.
Rob Baker's Imagina - Virtual Lightbox is, as the name suggests, a photo viewer and editor and an excellent one at that. Of all the image editors, Imagina has more of the most important features that I would want for photo editing.
The problem for most users will be that it is not good for image manipulation as it has no drawing or painting tools. If you want every, or even many, visual effects then you should also look elsewhere. It does have some and I had the most fun with the Period Style which allows you to simulate historical reproduction methods including '70s and '80s Instamatic snaps. This is also where you find a limited form of vignetting to simulate fading from the edge of a photo print. But that is the limit of its fancy effects. It also has no tools to correct lens distortion and perspective problems.
Imagina's forté is editing your photographs without losing any information in the process. The first time you use it you will be asked whether you "prefer quality over speed". I did so all images were processed at higher (floating point) quality which is noticeably slower. Imagina read every image file I tested including the Raw and HDR formats for which it has the best options to digitally 'develop' them. It is also the best at displaying any photograph on screen - for a moment I thought that I'd accidentally saved enhancements to some of my test images. It turned on Windows Color Management (WCM) automatically and told me most of what I need to know each step of the way. As you will see if you click on the screenshot, there are basic and advanced options for most tools (advanced options are displayed here), the tooltips and inline descriptions are very good, there is a reset button if you pick-up a mistake in the preview, and you have the option to undo and redo.
On the website there is a very good summary of Imagina's features, including video demonstrations, which will enhance your understanding of both the program and digital photography. A minor issue is that the examples all use an older version of the program interface. A bigger issue is that Imagina help is online and all the links are broken so when you do need more assistance it is not there. It could also do with an undo/redo list so you can see what you are undoing. If not for issues like this, and the lack of distortion correction, then I would probably recommend it for every aspiring photographer.
Michael Vinther's Image Analyzer is small image editor that is also squarely aimed at photographers rather than artists and designers. There are paint tools and layers but the power of Image Analyzer is in the photographic features. I was delighted when I saw what it could do. It has camera and scanner support, scripting, broad color model support, advanced transformations that I haven't seen in any of the other free programs, and plug-in support to extend its capabilities even further. While GIMP and other recommended editors have plug-in support they use them to provide the sort of features which Image Analyzer has built-in.
I'll give you one easily understood example of a feature not found in many image editors - see the screen-shot. An RGB image has three colors Red, Green, and Blue. Image Analyzer, like a couple of other editors, can split those out into separate images each in its own window. Then you can work on each color channel image, create layers and assign each channel to its own layer, paint or whatever. When you have finished editing then you can simply combine them all back into an RGB image. The same applies for the other color models such as CMY(K) and HSI.
On the downside it needs better documentation. Although the online help is very good it is only on the website. The interface could be easier to use, e.g. why is the Layers feature hidden on the Window menu rather than having it more visible. I could list many more such quibbles so I hope that Image Analyzer collects a lot of donations and other support because it would benefit from more polish.
digiKam is called a "photo management application" and is more like a photo organizer. The editing options are advanced but it could also be classed as a suite. In the end I placed it here because it has many advanced editing features: Raw processing, support for more than 1,200 digital camera models, editing Exif and other meta-data, sharing images on social media, has a Light Table for comparing similar images, and provides batch processing. It also has an editor module called ShowFoto.
ShowFoto can be run separate to digiKam which will save you some memory. digiKam with one image loaded used 350MB and ShowFoto 115MB.
Warning: Like GIMP, digiKam is a stable Linux application first and a less stable Windows version second. I did not have any problems in Windows 8.1 so it has become much more stable than when I last used it. If you decide to use it then test it well to confirm it is stable on your system before committing to it.
Chasys Draw IES, (Image Editing Suite), is an excellent application and I have no idea why it has never been recommended in this category. Anyway, I am now rectifying that oversight.
This suite of programs has no overall menu as each program runs individually and can be started via the menus of the other programs.
- Artist, an image editor which uses the default .CD5 Chasys Draw Image Format. When you start it the "New Project" dialog appears so you can choose from 14 different activities including optical disk labels and sleeve covers, animations, icons, scanning, HDR, batch file-conversion, Raw file processing, or just starting an image from scratch.
- Viewer is an image viewer much like the Windows default. It would benefit from the ability to explore file folders. As it is, it's primary purpose is to view the default file format .CD5.
- Converter to convert Image file formats
- raw-Photo to process Raw camera files
The author's name, John Paul Chacha, is part of the program folder name so you will probably see it from time to time. He aimed to produce his own innovative image editor without relying on mimicking the Photoshop interface and tools. He has succeeded. In many ways it reminds me of Gimp with its multi-window interface: Chacha's tool windows are also dock-able but they default to transparency so you can use a larger part of the display. See the screen-shot above for an example of the transparent user interface.
Technically it far exceeds Photoscape which is the other suite that we recommended here. It has a better interface, better documentation, is more extensible with its own SDK (Software Development Kit), has more options for automation, does more with meta-data, exports to and imports from many more file formats, and has more features including color management, High Dynamic Range (HDR) processing, and its own plug-ins including many Photoshop b8f filters.
Where it does not surpass Photoscape is where many users will want to perform basic image adjustments. The innovative features in Chasys Draw IES sometimes get in the way of performing such simple tasks. Take the example of cropping an image. The Crop and Rotate tool introduces unneeded complexity. The first time that I used it, I found that the easiest method to crop a rectangular area in a screen-shot was to select the area, copy the selection, and paste it as a new image. The crop and Rotate tool has important advantages if I was cropping a photo because I can choose the center of the shot and straighten the image while I crop it.
Photoscape is a suite of modules. Don't be fooled by the unusual interface that looks outdated. It is easy to use so it is a good step up from a basic image editor. It is also moderately powerful but it would be lot more powerful with abilities like editing many images at the same time, opening and exporting to more file formats, having more pixel editing tools, adding a colour management subsystem, editing meta-data particularly Exif, being able to merge images with High Dynamic Range (HDR) , and providing more Raw processing options.
All modules are accessible from the main windows with the main ones having their own tabbed windows in Photoscape. The only module that does not really fit is Paper Print which prints annual, monthly, and weekly calendars, lined/squared paper, and music notation sheets. If you want to see the module details then click on the 'Show more...' button below.
Interactive Editor* (the * indicates that this is one of the main modules) with four menu groups:
- Home has basic corrections for the whole image;
- Object has tools to insert Photoscape objects, other images, and clip art into your image. These objects are modifiable until they are combined into the image at which point the photo correction tools can be applied to them;
- Crop provides provides many pre-set ratios and documents sizes including any size that you want- selections are limited to rectangular, circular or elliptical;
- Tools to correct selected areas of the image.
- Batch Editor* to convert multiple images at the same time. Changes can be previewed before running and the configuration saved or reloaded.
- Raw Converter to JPEG for batches of files with preview and options for white balance and half-size images.
Image file management:
- Viewer *similar to Windows default viewer except it defaults to thumbnails and displays Exif data.
- Rename tool with pre-set name formats using dates (file, photo, or current date) and automatic numbering.
- Print* batches of images in a range of pre-set sizes and layouts with page preview and gamma control.
- Page* to place images on one page with frames, vignetting and basic image enhancement.
- Combine* images into one joined image horizontally, vertically, or in a matrix. But there is no blending of joins.
- Animated GIF*.
- Image Splitter to cut an image into many smaller images
- Screen Capture of either a full-screen, a window, or a region.
- Colour Picker with the usual dipper, magnifier, and colour codes..
Most of the other Free Digital Image Editors we have reviewed are listed below. Those that I am currently testing are indicated with an asterisk (*).
Let us know if you have any good suggestions. Either contact the editor or leave a comment below at the end of this article.
For added security we advise you to run virus scans on the websites and any downloads from those websites as they are not checked as regularly as the recommended products above.
- Ai Picture utility may not run well due to compatibility issues. Its interface is dated, help can be cryptic, printing is inadequate, and many users find it confusing. But I found it a good mid-range solution with lots of information (such as Exif data and image statistics), many tools, and a side-buy-side preview for each tool.
- FireAlpaca is unimpressive. However, I did like the choice of snap "grids".
- Fotor hasn't yet installed correctly on my test computer.
- Hornil Style Pix is a very good editor that is well documented with many capabilities. It uses a hierarchy of layers and objects which each has its own layer. Each layer has its own blend mode for combining the layers to form the final image. Grouping objects combines the layer. If it was more intuitive to use then I would recommend it. As it is, too often I was left wondering why features were inconsistent or would not work as expected: when I select an area and click on it the move pointer appears but only the first time as all later moves have a simple crosshair; redraw after measuring didn't remove all the old crosshairs; layers can't be deleted instead you delete the object which is more work to select it; and drawn objects have to be 'flattened' or converted to an image to use the paint tools on them.
- i.Mage is small and open source aiming to be a good pixel editor.
- Image View (Plus More) version 2 has shortcut keys for everything. The version 3 beta also has a 64-bit program.
- ImLab is amazing but it not for general use as it is built on a toolkit specifically designed for scientific research.
- Krita is recommended in the Best Free Paint Program article which is definitely the category it belongs in. It is listed here purely because it can open a range of Raw file formats although not all of those I was testing as it plug-in problems are one of many areas where Krita is buggy. It does not interface to cameras or scanners.
- Magix Xtreme Photo Designer is mid-level but tries to install third-party software that are likely to cause you problems.
- NPS Image Editor (Virustotal scanned site 0/58) - originally Nookkin's Image Editor - is advertised as a beta but seems fine to use. It includes a useful color selection and conversion utility that can be run separately.
- Phantasmagoria is a Java application that has been version 1.0 since 2008. Although it looks cool and has some good features - I particularly like the option to delete sensitive information from an image - it has too many bugs and underdeveloped features. For example, once I placed text I couldn't edit it.
- PhotoDemon is a very promising portable program with unusual features like support for the Photo HD file format, an option to specify color depth when saving an image, reopen files after crash, displays all image metadata, and keyboard macros. It will probably be recommended when I can sort out why it is crashing for me.
- PhotoPerfect Express is good for basic users.
- Photo Pos Pro may not run well due to compatibility issues. It is a good mid-level editor with lots of features, extras (sample photos, textures, etc), batch processing, and scripting. Warning that it wants to install third-party products that are likely to cause you problems.
- Photobie is promoted for digital scrapbooking and has support for a Photobie Club but there appears to be little activity on the website. The program is a mix of very useful and advanced features like layers and 8bf filters. But the interface is dated and icons are hard to identify.
- Photormin has a good interface and quite a few features.
- Photosun has a unique interface but too many bugs and not enough features. If does display all the Exif metadata.
- PixBuilder Studio may not run well due to compatibility issues. It looks good and takes many Photoshop 8bf filters.
- Pixia is recommended in the Best Free Paint Program. It will receive images from cameras and scanners. The English language interface is not complete so you will find yourself reading Japanese when you view the EXIF information.
- Pos Free Photo Editor is a very cut-down version of Photo Pos Pro. It also wants to install software that are likely to cause you problems.
- RealWorld Paint.com and RealWorld Photos are basically the same program. Both are mid-level editors that can create icons and GIF animations.
- Serif PhotoPlus SE is one of a range of products that are easy to use and moderately powerful.
- virtualStudio has a useful image viewer. Image editing is disappointing but there are features not commonly found like copyright notice, picture shadow, and Raw file support.
- AAphoto has very limited features, mainly color correction and resizing.
- Asclepius is largely useless because it only really orders prints online.
- JPhoto Tweek is nearly useless. It is small and fast but it lacks relevant checks. For example, it lets you open files that it can't decode.
- M2PicBuddy is very limited.
- Photo N-Gine is somewhat limited and hasn't been updated since version 1.1 in 2007. On Windows 7 64-bit, to exit it I had to kill it with Task Manager.
- PC Image Editor is a basic editor similar to Windows Paint which would be preferred.
- Rendera is limited.
- SunlitGreen Photo Editor is too limited. Plus it wants to install third-party software that are likely to cause you problems.
- Active Pixels developer has abandoned the website.
LightBox Image Editor
PhotoPad Image Editor
Imagina - Virtual Lightbox
The portable version is created from the installed version using File menu | Install to USB.
This software review is maintained by volunteer editor Remah. Registered members can contact the editor with any comments or questions they might have by clicking here.
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