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Old 05-27-2004, 12:37 AM
Lissa Lissa is offline
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Posts: 10,581
What's the Best Free Photo Editing Software?

I just recently got a digital camera, and I don't really like the editing software which came with it. (It's called Pixella.)

I'd like something where I can enlarge, crop, edit out re-eye and the like, and all that good stuff. Did I mention I'm easily frustrated and need something easy to use? Did I mention I'm a tightwad and don't want to pay for it?

I saw some free programs on the internet, but thought I'd ask for your opinions.
Old 05-27-2004, 12:41 AM
P_T_ P_T_ is offline
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Location: Central Missouri
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Either ACDSee or Irfanview are both pretty decent. You can get either of them Here
Old 05-27-2004, 01:02 AM
yosemite yosemite is offline
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Location: Back in California.
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iPhoto is great, but it's a little underpowered for me. (I'm really into Photoshop.) If you have a Mac, it might be just the thing for your digital camera.
Old 05-27-2004, 06:45 AM
GorillaMan GorillaMan is offline
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Gimp is very good.
Old 05-27-2004, 08:59 AM
slortar slortar is offline
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Location: Kalamazoo, MI
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Another vote for the Gimp. Takes forever and a day to load, but when it does, it's astonishingly powerful. The windows port is somewhat less than stable, but as with all things open source that improves with every new release.
Old 05-27-2004, 11:17 AM
AHunter3 AHunter3 is offline
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I'll "third" the Gimp. For some reason it has a reputation for having a counterintuitive or weird or esoteric interface, but I did not find it so. Once I had it compiled and launched it, it took just a few moments of fiddling around to figure out how to use it, no manual or README necessary. It reminds me a lot of Photoshop 3.0 (the workflow of which I liked better than modern Photoshop).

I just wish it could "Save As" in Photoshop-native (multi-layered) format. It can open such files (very nice feature) and it can save in its own native format (with layers etc) but nothing but Gimp can open it subsequently. Or you can flatten it (lose the layers) and save it as a TIFF, but that doesn't help if what you want to do is switch back and forth between Photoshop and Gimp editing a multi-layered file.

Damn good deal for a price of $0
Old 05-27-2004, 11:57 AM
Derleth Derleth is online now
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Location: Missoula, Montana, USA
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AHunter, when I read Photoshop people talking about The Gimp, I get the feeling that they either think it's a joke or have a rather biased view of the whole field and think everything except Photoshop is a joke.

They don't, however, say why they think that.

So your comment strikes me as a very good sign, and I'd like to know what Photoshop has that The Gimp currently lacks. Past or present, but it would be interesting to hear what you think a recent Photoshop has that a recent Gimp lacks, especially if you feel that lack in your own work.

After all, the people who run the Gimp project probably want suggestions for future versions.
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Old 05-27-2004, 03:44 PM
rjung rjung is offline
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My understanding is that a lot of professional artists don't care for Gimp because its interface and tools work unintuitively/different from what they're expecting. They spend too much time doping out the software that they can't get results. See here for one such critique.

And while iPhoto is okay for organizing images and bare-bones editing, I wouldn't use it for anything more complicated than "tweak the contrast and crop this image."
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Old 05-27-2004, 05:51 PM
bughunter bughunter is offline
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Location: Sol3, Orion Arm, MilkyWay
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Again with the GIMP. I use it frequently since the stingy bastards I work for won't pay for a Photoshop license.

Also, if you are interested in doing any scientific image analysis (doesn't look like it, but just in case) then I recommend ImageJ from the NIH. Yes, the Government Research Lab. It's a java based image editor and analysis package.

It's less intuitive than even GIMP, but it has features that others don't, and can read wierd formats like 64-bit floating point TIFF, and crap like that, just in case you ever find yourself in posession of some hyperspectral imagery.
Old 05-27-2004, 06:57 PM
AHunter3 AHunter3 is offline
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Well, there are some pretty compelling commonalities. Here's the same document being edited in Photoshop 7, Photoshop 3, and The Gimp.

As you can see, all three environments work from the idea that a document can have many layers, which can be stacked in a specific order and given a degree of opacity with regards to layers beneath, can be rendered visible or invisible, and one of them is active at any given time. All three have a primary palette of tools which includes a selection marquee (oval or rectangle), a lasso selector tool, and a "magic wand" selector tool; a paintbrush tool along with a separate palette from which to select brush size and shape, a pencil tool, an eyedropper tool for picking up color, a "rubber stamp" area-cloning tool (which also utilizes the brushes palette), an airbrush tool (likewise), a finger-smudging tool, an eraser (uses the brushes palette for eraser size), a pen tool, a dodge/burn tool (in the screen shots I've got dodge selected in 3 and burn in 7 and Gimp), a text tool*, a cropping tool†, and a paint-dump can tool. All three also have a Channels (red, green, blue, w/others possible) palette and a Paths palette, although in the Gimp you can't separate them from the Layers/Channels/Path window as you can in Photoshop. All three have an Options palette which is context-specific, providing options relevant to the currently selected tool.

* works differently in Photoshop 7, more on this below
† looks like a cutting blade in Gimp, but works the same as the cropping tool in Photoshop.

Finally, there are menu commands. In Photoshop, the menus are in the normal Macintosh (or Windows, if you're on a PC) overhead position, with menu headings such as File, Edit, Select, Image, Filters, and so on. Within each menu are relevant commands (Rotate and Resize and stuff like that under Image, Deselect and Inverse and Load Selection in the Select menu, the normal Undo Cut Copy and Paste in Edit, and so on. The Gimp has the same stuff but in a different place —the menus pop out of the side of the active window when you click on a > shaped button at upper left. Contents are pretty much comparable. Maybe that's the part that throws some folks?

OK, major differences. The biggest ones are between Photoshop 7 and everything else.

• In Photoshop 7, every damn time you paste something, it creates a different layer. In Photoshop 3 and the Gimp, what you paste gets pasted into the currently active layer, where it sits as a floating selection which you can drag around, delete, or apply commands and filters to. When you deselect it, it merges with the layer you pasted it into. In Photoshop 3 and the Gimp, you can create a new layer if you want it, or choose Paste as Layer instead of Paste, but it's not the default behavior.

• In Photoshop 7, text is handled as text rather than as bitmapped representations of text. This enables you to go back and edit text you created earlier — edit it as text, I mean, not editing the image of text as image. In Photoshop 3 and the Gimp, the world is a bitmapped world and text, once entered, exists as pixels, not as text. This would be a more powerfully compelling "pro" feature of PS7 were it not for the fact that when you WANT the text to behave like any other set of pixels, the way you're used to dealing with text from earlier versions of Photoshop, it's downright cumbersome. And, as with pasting, every bit of text you create wants to go into its own layer.

• To continue the trend, every time you go to draw something with the brush tools you'll find yourself in another new unintended layer. In the Gimp and Photoshop 3 you can draw in a new layer if you want to, by creating one deliberately, but by default you're working in the layer you're working in; tools that put new shapes and colors onscreen do so in the layer you're working in, they don't blop them into new layers that you then have to merge down if you insist on them being in the same layer as the previous swatch of color you painted or sprayed.

• Photoshop 7 has a History palette, which lets you undo backwards in time, step by step, hopping over a dozen steps to get back to where you were 8 hours ago if you want. This is a powerful feature, although it sure plays hell with the available disk space on your scratch disk. In Photoshop 3 or the Gimp, if you're going to do some work that you're speculative about, you make a backup copy first or you could find it very difficult to undo what you're about to do. (They do have regular single-step Undo functions like most programs, though).

• Photoshop 3 is obsolete; Photoshop 7 is too, I guess, having just been supplanted by Photoshop CS which is mildly different and costs quite a few hundreds of dollars. The Gimp is up to date and free.

Aside from that, there are ten zillion little nuances that take some getting used to in any of the three, but mostly they are no big deal.
Old 05-28-2004, 12:11 AM
Lissa Lissa is offline
Join Date: Mar 1999
Posts: 10,581
Originally Posted by GorillaMan
Gimp is very good.
I'm getting a page-not-available screen when I click on this link.

All the talk of layers and the like got my head spinning. I'm definitly not as sophisticated as that: I haven't even figured out all of my camera's features yet. Basically, I want to be able to edit out a zit or red-eye, crop an image to remove unwanted parts of the picture, enlarge an image, and enhance. Will all of the features of GIMP get in the way and confuse me?

Sorry, guys . . . I'm still learning all of this.
Old 05-28-2004, 12:23 AM
1010011010 1010011010 is offline
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Posts: 2,076
Bring out the gimp.

It's powerful, but if you're not trying to do anything too crazy (and it doesn't sound like you are) it should be easy to figure out... and if you were trying to do something crazy, you'd still be able to do it.
Old 05-28-2004, 01:08 AM
AHunter3 AHunter3 is offline
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Lissa, layers work like this:

• Let's say your only picture of Uncle Harry and Aunt June that dates back to before his massive stroke was taken in bad contrast lighting so they are way underexposed. Your slide-scanner has different settings, some of which seem to do a better job on contrast in the underexposed image and some of which seem to do a better job on restoring the real colors in the underexposed image. So you create two layers, and in one layer you put a scan using the first setting and in a second layer you put a second scan using the second setting. Then you play with them, trying to merge the best features of each layer. Maybe you find out that if you look at only the blue (out of red-green-blue channels), the second layer really rules, but in red and green the other layer looks better. So you try stuff: copy the blue channel from layer one and paste it over the blue channel from layer two and then look at layer two by itself. Hmm, no that's not quite it. Revert to last saved (or, if you're in Photoshop 7 or CS, use the History palette). OK, let's try settings other than "normal" for merging the two layers. And let's experiment with different opacity of Layer 2 so as to let some of Layer 1 shine through. Hmm, let's lighten up Layer 1 and reduce the contrast, leaving layer 2 the same. Hey, that's not bad!

• You have 14 pictures of various cows and an assignment from the Cheese Company to incorporate a pic of some cows with a sunburst and the words "Cheese Company" floating above them in an arc. You make a layer for Cows (and from time to time select and delete and paste a different set of cows from your library of 14 cow pix to see how they look); you have a second layer that consists of a sunburst effect. You try pasting in sunset photos, you try using sunburst filters from Black Box/Alien Skin, and you try sketching in a sunburst using the paint tools. Actually, you probably create 8 or 9 different layers, each with an alternative possible sunburst, and you turn them on one at a time to compare them. And you probably have 14 different cow layers and you play with them by turning off Cow 5 and seeing how Sunburst 11 looks with Cow 9. And you have 7 layers' worth of possible fonts and colors and filter effects on text for "Cheese Company" up above all of your cows and sunbursts. There's a thingie that looks like an eye (see my screenshots, above) that lets you make a layer visible to the eye or invisible (hidden) for now. We have Cows 1-4 and 6-8 turned off (click the eyes to turn the eyes off) and Sunbursts 1-10 and 12-13 off (same deal) and we're randomly trying different CheeseCoText layers to see if Palatino Extended Bold with a fire filter and a drop shadow looks as good as New Century Schoolbook Normal with a fire filter duplicated with one copy filled in black and then original repasted 8 pixels left and 8 pixels up offset from the black, rather than using the drop shadow filter.
Old 05-28-2004, 06:47 AM
GorillaMan GorillaMan is offline
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Portman Road
Posts: 17,369
Originally Posted by Lissa
I'm getting a page-not-available screen when I click on this link.
Looks like it's jsut temporarily down.


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