Alternative Photo Editors

SnowA while back I blogged about how I like Adobe LightRoom for editing  photos taken with my digital camera. At the time I was using a beta version. Well, LightRoom has gone to release and I either need to pony up or quit using it.

I decided to see what other photo editing software was available. This is not going to be an exhaustive list of software nor a detailed review of any of them – just a quick overview of some interesting stuff that I found.

First Microsoft Windows Vista. One commenter on the previous blog mentioned that Vista has many built in features that support imaging. I tried out the Windows Photo Gallery on my Vista Ultimate machine.

The first thing I needed was an update from Nikon to be able to view the raw NEF files. This was no big deal, Windows detected the missing file and took me to the place to get it. Now I could view and organize NEF files.

Photo Gallery is a nice little program for organizing your photos. It quickly displays thumbnails of your photos either within folders or across folders. You can tag your photos with keywords. The search feature is really handy. It can find images by tags or by EXIF data that is embedded in the images.

You can do some basic editing on the images in your gallery – contrast, brightness, crop, red eye, etc. Unfortunately I could not edit the raw files. You have to convert files to JPG before editing them.

Overall this isn’t a bad little utility and it is free (assuming you already bought Vista). If you are taking a lot of family snapshots and you need a way to keep track of them and do some quick edits, then this would be a good choice. I think its simplicity is a plus here. A home user doesn’t want to wade through menus of complex layering tools and histograms just to print a shot of uncle Fred at last weekend’s BBQ.

By the way – I tired connecting my camera to my Vista machine in order to download my photos. This worked very well also. I didn’t install anything. I just plugged in my USB cord and switched on the camera. Vista saw the camera, did some fiddling, and then popped up a dialog that let me download the pics and remove them from the camera’s memory. Very nice.

Although Vista has some handy stuff for image manipulation, I need something with a little more power for the stuff I do. So it is on to another piece of software. Next time – Bibble from Bibble Labs.



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