The Best Picture Software

Digital cameras expanded the use of image editing software from the professional domain to the general population. Scores of image editing and viewing software titles exist in the marketplace, and software manufacturers make titles to fit any photographer’s capabilities, from novice to professional. The best software fits the demands of the user and offers ease of operation and user-friendly interfacing between camera and computer.

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop rules the roost in terms of image editing software packages. Photoshop offers the user the largest number of image enhancement tools of any image editing software. As of December 2009, Photoshop comes in two editions: Photoshop CS4 and Photoshop CS4 Extended. Adobe Photoshop has garnered the respect of professional photographers because of its advanced RAW editing abilities. Photoshop’s RAW plug-in supports more than 190 camera models, offers Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) and Joint Photographers Expert Group (JPEG) format processing and post-crop vignetting. The extended edition offers everything CS4 offers plus tools for editing 3D models, motion-based content and advanced image analyses. Adobe also offers a consumer-level version of Photoshop titled Photoshop Elements. According to NPD Group/Retail Tracking Service, Photoshop Elements garnered the #1 selling consumer photo editing software spot from April 2002 to March 2009. As of December 2009, Photoshop CS4 and CS4 Extended both retail for $699.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2

From image import to image output, Lightroom’s technology fully supports the digital work environment. Lightroom offers 64-bit processing support, multiple monitor support, local adjustments and batch processing. One of Lightroom’s greatest features comes in the form of nondestructive editing. Edits are made on a copy of the original RAW file and not the RAW file itself. Photographers can enhance color, tone and exposure on TIFF, JPEG and Photoshop native (PSD) file formats along with more than 190 camera RAW file formats. Lightroom combined with Adobe Photoshop CS4 creates a comprehensive digital workflow. Initial image upload and editing is performed in Lightroom, then the image gets sent to Photoshop CS4 for additional enhancements, and, finally, the image returns back to Lightroom for final showcasing to the Internet or printing. As of December 2009, Lightroom retails for $299.

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Picasa 3

Picasa makes this list not because it’s free (that doesn’t hurt) but because the software works great and offers a number of nice features. Picasa offers anyone the opportunity to upload photos into the software and make a number of image enhancements, including crop, color correction, white balance and red-eye correction–all automatically. Picasa allows the user to resize images to existing print sizes (3 inches x 5 inches, 4 inches x 6 inches, 5 inches x 7 inches and 8 inches x 10 inches), or crop to a custom size. One of the nicer features of Picasa involves the geo-tagging of images. Users designate specific locations to photographs via a built-in tool that assigns longitude and latitude markers to the image. When shared online, anyone can view the photograph’s place of origin. Picasa also allows users to create online albums and connect directly to partner retailers for image printing.