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Best Photo Editing Software

Anyone who picks up a photography magazine lately will soon realize there is no shortage of photo editing software available. This is a great thing for photographers, yet how do know what is the best photo editing software for you?

PicPick - All-in-one Graphic Design, Best Screen Capture Software, Image Editor, Color Picker, Pixel Ruler and More. Picnik can be used by anyone for free from the Picnik website at www.picnik.com. Although the Picnik application itself cannot be downloaded onto your computer, it is possible to download browser extensions which can make using the Picnik web application even easier and simpler. Free download Verdict: Fotor is a simple photo editor for basic image enhancement but with some limitations. Previously, this program was a bit more convenient, but now they have added much advertising on both sides of the workspace.

Shown below are some of the most popular photo editing programs, along with descriptions on their use and the photographer they are targeted towards. They range from free photo editors all the way to professional level. If your new to digital photography, try some of the free options first. Many professional photographers work with 2 or more pieces of software, so don’t limit yourself to only one.

Free photo editing software

Some of the best photo editing software can be downloaded for free. Here is our top 4 free editors. These are useful for beginners who are just starting out in digital photography, or those who are still building up their camera and lens collections, and may not have a lot of spare cash laying around for digital software.

  • Picasa

    Picasa is a free photo editing program created by Google. It’s useful for home users or beginners to find, edit and share their photographs online with Picasa Web Albums (free photo album hosting from Google). With Picasa, you can eliminate scratches & blemishes, fix red-eye, and crop your images. It’s also useful for creating movies, collages and slideshows from your digital photographs. Picasa is available for both PC and MAC and be downloaded from: https://picasa.google.com/

  • Picnik

    Picnik is a free online photo editor that allows you crop, resize, rotate, add special effects such as text or shape overlays. Picasa implements the same editor in their program. Other social networking sites using Picnik include MySpace, Flickr, Photobucket and Webshots.Picnik works on Windows, MAC and Linux. No download is required and nothing to install. You can start using Picnik by going to: http://www.picnik.com/

  • GIMP

    Gimp is a fully fledged photo editing software that is often referred to as poor mans Photoshop, and for good reasons. It really is very similar to Photoshop, without the high cost. They have fantastic documentation to help you get started and offer advanced photo retouching techniques such as correcting lens distortion, vignetting, cloning and healing tools.

  • I am very impressed that it has support for drawing tablets, which is unusual for free photo editors. GIMP supports Linux, Windows (XP, Vista), Mac OS X, FreeBSD and Sun Open Solaris operating systems and can be downloaded from: http://www.gimp.org/
  • Adobe Photoshop Express

    Photoshop Express is a free online photo editing program from Adobe. All it requires is registration and you can touch up, tweak and tune your images before sharing them on Facebook or Flickr.

    A really neat part of Photoshop Express is that you get to store up to 2GB of photographs on Adobe. You can take a test drive and see what its all about at: https://www.photoshop.com/

Low cost photo editing software

We consider low cost photo editing software to be those priced within a couple of hundred dollars. This is usually acceptable for many SLR photographers who are used to forking out more than that for a quality lens. Software in this range include: Photoshop Elements, Paint Shop Pro Photo, IPhoto, Bibble (pro and lite), ACDSee and Nikon’s Capture NX.

  • Photoshop Elements

    – The #1 selling consumer photo-editing software
    If I didn’t already own the latest version of Photoshop, then Photoshop Elements would be my next choice for photo editing software. Photoshop Elements is often referred to as a cut down version of Photoshop, created especially with photographers in mind.

    The main tool I missed when using Photoshop Elements for a short time was the layers palette. Other than that, it offers all the organization, editing, creation and sharing tools enjoyed by photographers in the more professional CS2 / CS3 / CS4 / CS5 software.Photoshop is available for both Windows and MAC operating systems. You can download a free trial from: http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshopel/

  • Paint Shop Pro Photo X3

    Paint Shop Pro Photo X3 (also known as Paint Shop Pro Ultimate) is a low cost photo editing software from Corel. Common uses include fixing problems such as red eye, color and sharpness with a few simple clicks. It also allows photographers to import pictures from their camera automatically into Paint Shop Pro Photo X3. For a full list of features and download a free trial version, visit: http://www.corel.com

  • iPhoto

    iPhoto is usually a MAC users first experience with photo editing software, as it comes pre installed with ‘iLife’ on new Apple computers. If you haven’t already upgraded to iLife 11, here is a list of new features offered in iPhoto 11:

    Easily find photos of the people in your life using Faces.
    Explore your library based on where you took each photo using Places.
    Instantly create stunning slideshows with animated titles and multiphoto layouts.
    Publish photos directly to Facebook and Flickr™ with a click.
    Create travel-themed photo books complete with custom maps.
    For a full list of features visit: https://www.apple.com/ilife/iphoto/

  • Bibble

    Bibble comes in two low cost versions, Bibble lite for $89.95 USD and Bibble pro for $159.95 (at time of writing). I’ve never used this particular photo editing software myself but have read many good things about it. Bibble is a digital RAW converter for Windows, MAC OS X and Linus operating systems. It helps photographers to maximize results from their RAW files. In other words, if you don’t shoot in RAW file format, then you can give Bibble a miss.

    Features include: Healing & Clone tool
    3rd Party Plug-ins and Enhanced Lens Correction
    One-Click Image Correction with Perfectly Clear®
    Noise Reduction with Noise Ninja™ Technology
    Blazing Fast RAW Conversion
    Highlight Recovery and Fill Light.
    Photographers can download a free trial version of Bibble from: http://bibblelabs.com/

  • ACDSee Photo Editor 2008

    ACDSee is a favorite photo editor for digital scrapbooking. Comes with 400 shapes or create your own.

This software is easy to use, you don’t have to be a technical wiz to make digital scrapbooking creations from your photographs.
You can read more about ACDSee Photo Editor 2008 and download a free trial from: acdsee web site.

  • Capture NX2

    Capture NX2 is a favorite amongst Nikon camera photographers. It’s powerful correction tools include an auto retouch brush that automatically removes specks of dust, facial blemishes and other imperfections. The tool many photographers speak about is the Quick Fix tool. This tool is a ‘combination of frequently used tools including [Level and Tone Curve], [Exposure Compensation], [Contrast], [Highlight Protection], [Shadow Protection] and [Saturation] in a single window‘.

    Many photographers nowadays make good use of photo editors that allow them to label and rate photographs. The advantage of this, is that it lets them quickly find and view images that they rate highly. Capture NX2 ‘supports nine kinds of labeling and five levels of ratings according to XMP, a metadata industry standard‘. Download a free trial of Capture NX2 from: http://www.capturenx.com/en/

Professional photo editing software

The number one photo editing software for photography studios is Adobe Photoshop.

  • Photoshop and Lightroom – latest versions are Photoshop CS5 + Lightroom 3

    Photoshop is known worldwide for its professional standards, and now CS5 is said to be 200% faster than previous versions. It’s ideal for professional photographers or serious amateurs.My personal choice for editing photographs, there is literally nothing this software can’t do.

    A couple of months back we put up a few photoshop tutorials for photographers. The tutorials include post production techniques we use within our own photography.Professional photographers often couple Photoshop with another Adobe product called Lightroom 2.

    Lightroom allows photographers to efficiently import and manage thousands of images, making easy work of renaming, organizing and sorting through entire shoots.

    To read more about Adobe’s professional editing software solutions for photographers visit: http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop/family/prosolutions/

  • Aperture 3

    Aperture is the choice of software for MAC users looking to upgrade iPhoto that was mentioned earlier and gives ‘photographers a streamlined way to speed through edits, make essential adjustments, and deliver photos online and in print‘. It also offers over 70 plug-ins including HDR, depth of field, sharpeners, auto correct, noise and lens corrections, upload directly to stock photography sites, file transfer and many others.

    I use this software myself to import, rename, rate and organize photographs. For a full list of new features found in Aperture 3 visit: http://www.apple.com/aperture/

Other popular MISC photo editing software

Listed below is a few other popular editing programs that are used for specific purposes. For example, Noise Ninja is popular for removing ‘noise’ seen within photographs.

  • Noise Ninja

    If you browse through a few photography message forums you’ll soon notice ‘Noise Ninja’ is mentioned often. This is because its a popular software for removing noise and grain from digital photographs. Take this image above for example.

    Noise Ninja is available as a standalone software, or as a plug-in for Photoshop and Aperture.
    You can read more about Noise Ninja and download trial versions from the developers web site. at: http://www.picturecode.com/

  • Photomatix

    Photomatix is another editing software that I use myself for creating HDR tone mapping. It’s a stand alone program that runs on MAC OS X and Windows 98/Me/2000/XP/Vista.

    No doubt, it is the best photo editing software available for this style of imagery. I won’t go into what HDR imagery is, as I already have a page explaining how I use Photomatix at: HDR – high dynamic range imaging and photographs.

    Photomatix is available for both MAC OS and Windows, and can be downloaded from: http://www.hdrsoft.com


Inkscape 1.0.1 is mainly a stability and bugfix release. It also comes with a few new features that hadn't been stable enough to make it into Inkscape 1.0.

New Features

Color-managed PDF export using Scribus

An experimental Scribus PDF export extension has been added. It is available as one of the many export formats in the 'Save as' and 'Save a Copy' dialogs.

To be able to get a correct and color-managed CMYK PDF file with text converted to curves that corresponds to your drawing in Inkscape, you must:

  • have Scribus 1.5.x installed (the Scribus executable must not be called scribus-ng)
  • have enabled color management for your document
  • have selected one color profile to use for the colors in your file
  • assign all colors in the document with the color managed color selector in the Fill and Stroke dialog
  • not use filters in your drawing (this includes blur)
  • not use any transparency if you're exporting to PDF/X-1, PDF/X-3 or PDF 1.3
  • not include any bitmap images
  • not use markers
  • not use any other SVG features that are not supported by Scribus

The page size corresponds to the document size in Scribus. When you add a bleed, an area of the given width outside the page area in Inkscape will be included in the PDF file.

Please test the extension, and always carefully check the result before you send it to a print service. You can leave your feedback about what works / doesn't work at https://inkscape.org/inbox.

Selectors and CSS dialog unhidden

The Selectors and CSS dialog that had been hidden and labelled as 'experimental' in Inkscape 1.0 is now available from the Object menu.

The dialog makes it possible to add, remove and edit CSS properties that are saved within an element's 'style' attribute, as well as styling objects in the document using CSS classes and other CSS selectors. These additional styles are written into a style tag in the SVG document.

It can also be used to select all objects that belong to a specific class, so users will again be able to create collections of objects that are independend of the document structure (e.g. they belong to different groups in the drawing).

This dialog replaces the Selection Sets dialog that had been removed for Inkscape 1.0.

List all Colors in a document

A new extension Color > List All lists all colors used in a document and indicates how often they are used (Commit)

Interpolate gradients

The Interpolate extension now also interpolates gradients in fills and in strokes (before, it could only interpolate flat colors) and named colors (Commit).

New preferences option to limit screen tearing while editing

In Edit > Preferences > Rendering: Redraw while editing, users can choose between the two options 'Responsive' and 'Conservative' to determine how quickly the canvas display is updated while editing objects. The default value is 'Responsive', which gives rendering a higher priority than it had previously and makes editing objects feel less sluggish (Commit)

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Other small improvements

  • Users can now define an ID for QR code groups rendered by the Render Barcode extension (Commit)
  • Extensions now understand what to do with the CSS unit Q (1/40th of a cm) (Commit)

Crash fixes

Fix a crash …

  • … when applying Offset LPE to groups (Commit)
  • … when closing Inkscape while the filter editor dialog is open (Commit)
  • … with some cursor themes that do not contain an upward arrow cursor (Commit)
  • … when the file to open does not exist (Commit)
  • … when resizing a document with a grid, when the document properties dialog is closed (Commit)
  • … when opening a malformed pdf where the selected page does not exist (Commit)
  • … when creating a clone of / opening a file with a symbol from an object with a CSS style (Commit)
  • … when exporting an object identified by its ID to SVG from the command line (Commit)
  • … when using the dropper tool a lot (Commit)
  • … when trying to open Inkscape's stock filters file with the Inkscape flatpak version (Commit)

Other Bug fixes

Packaging

  • AppImage now comes with Python 3.8 (Commit)
  • Snap now uses the system's font cache and thus finds all installed fonts (Commit). Additionally, it can now make use of extensions with custom user interfaces (e.g. InkStitch) (Commit)

Canvas

  • The zoom correction factor no longer depends on the display unit, so correction works properly for documents that are not in mm (Commit)

Dialogs

  • The document properties dialog can now be resized even if one is using display scaling on a hidpi screen on Linux

Rendering

  • Zooming no longer causes artifacts when there is a path with an arc segment with a radius of 0 in the drawing (Commit)

Tools

  • 3D-box tool:
    • Keyboard shortcuts for changing angles in the 3D-box tool were adjusted to work as documented, even with the Y-axis inverted (Commit)
  • Circle tool:
    • Duplicated circles are now closed properly (Commit)
  • Eraser tool:
    • The mass value field is no longer greyed out and can be used (Commit)
  • Gradient tool:
    • Simplifying selected gradient stops with Ctrl+L works now (Commit)
  • Node tool:
    • Path > Reverse now works on subpaths again (Commit)
  • Pencil tool:
    • The 'flatten simplify (LPE)' button now only shows up when it can be used (Commit)
  • Selector tool:
    • Keyboard shortcuts with Alt key for rotating objects also work as documented again with the Y-axis inversion (Commit)
    • Objects no longer seemingly jump or scale up when moving multiple of them with snapping turned on (Commit)
    • Default snap delay was set to 0 so snapping will work more precisely (Commit)
  • Text tool:
    • Line height doesn't change spontaneously when switching tools while having text selected (Commit)

Import / Export / Save

  • when saving as PDF / PS / EPS + LaTeX, % signs are now properly escaped (Commit)
  • the dpi value for exporting to PNG can be specified as a decimal number again
  • attribute order is no longer reversed when saving as SVG, so comparing two SVG files is easier now (Commit)

Masking / Clipping

  • When releasing or undoing a mask, objects will no longer become unselectable and will use their own bounding box (Commit)

Live Path Effects

  • LPE selection dialog looks better now with some desktop themes (Commit)
  • Clone original LPE items now get the cloned or linked item's style by default instead of starting with a black fill. A regression that made it impossible to use text elements as source was fixed. Transforms (moving, stretching, shearing) are handled correctly now. (Commit)
  • Fill between many: option 'fuse coincident points' has been replaced with good defaults (Commit)
  • The Knot LPE allows to switch the direction of self-crossings (Commit)
  • When using the PowerStroke LPE with the join type 'extrapolated arc', the corners no longer have a dent, but are smooth again (Commit)
  • Roughen LPE now works more reliably (Commit)
  • Inkscape no longer becomes unresponsive when selecting an object that is used for the Pattern-Along-Path LPE (Commit)

Performance

  • Inkscape no longer becomes unresponsive when opening a document with lots of style tags in it (Commit)

Extensions

General

  • Relative paths to linked images no longer break when using an extension (Commit)
  • Path elements are now transformed correctly when applying transformation matrices to them (Commit)
  • Text element coordinates are now interpreted correctly, even if they use a different unit than px (Commit) and their (guessed) bounding boxes now consider transforms
  • Extensions that adjust colors now work on groups again (Commit)

Specific extensions

  • Plot extension and HPGL Output extension no longer have an option to automatically convert objects to path, this is now always done (except for texts) (Commit).
  • When switching plotter pens using the HPGL output extension, the plotter no longer makes a dot with the new pen at the end of the old pen's line (Commit). The extension now works with multiple pens (marked by their layer name in Inkscape) again (Commit).
  • The Interpolate extension now works with the tutorial files again (Commit).
  • The extension Render > Barcode > Datamatrix now renders 64 x 64 datamatrices correctly (Commit).
  • Rendering a 3D Polyhedron no longer gives deprecation warnings (Commit).
  • The Measure Path extension now also works when the Help tab is open when clicking on Apply (Commit
  • Color > Randomize extension now works correctly for the Hue and Lightness parameters
  • The unnecessary Live preview was removed from the Interactive Mockup extension (Commit)
  • The Perspective / Envelope extension now considers transforms (Commit).
  • The Hershey text extension fonts now contain letters needed to plot in Danish (Commit). Additionally, the extension can now better handle line heights (Commit).

Extension failure fixes

Fix a failure …

  • … when exporting a document with unknown SVG tags to HTML5 canvas (Commit)
  • … when trying to access a document node with an unknown tag (Commit)
  • … when trying to import a dxf file with a circle / ellipse (Commit)
  • … when using the Perfect Bound Cover extension (Commit)
  • … when using the Mesh Gradient to Path extension (Commit)
  • … when using the JessyInk extension (Commit).
  • … when using the DPI Switcher extension (Commit)

Extension API changes / Improvements for Extension Developers

  • Shape objects now have an is_visible method (Commit)
  • Documentation extended and improved (Commit, []https://gitlab.com/inkscape/extensions/-/commit/9b21776f7c3d746911dac7305b8e1f2a08e38b70 Commit], Commit, Commit)
  • Use an underscore in front of the name attribute value to mark things that do not need to be available in the .py file (Commit)
  • Shape coordinates are now reported in user units (Commit)
  • inkex.addNS() is no longer required, attributes like inkscape:groupmode can now be used directly, too (Commit)
  • added method getElementByName() to get an object by Inkscape label (Commit)
  • added method getElementsByClass() to get objects by their class name (Commit)
  • added method to create Star shapes (Commit)

Upcoming deprecations (1.1 will issue a warning, while both the old and the new version will just work in 1.0.1):

  • See https://gitlab.com/inkscape/extensions/-/commit/4838d285b01106d243399e6bf36e7956a291eb98

Filters

  • Changes to filter region handles are now saved to the file (Commit)

Templates

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  • The same file can now be used to create multiple template files (Commit)

Markers

  • Custom markers are now no longer cut off when viewed in a web browser (Commit)

Color management

  • When using color management, the color selector works again (Commit)

Command line

  • the pre-1.0 options --export-[type]=, --file= and --without-gui= now have a fallback and print out a warning (Commit)
  • when converting a pdf to svg on the command line, the poppler text import method no longer changes randomly (Commit)
  • opening files with Windows drive paths (with colons) works again (Commit)
  • background color is now exported to PNG when using --export-background even when --export-background-opacity is not set explicitly (Commit)
  • the tab key can now be used to automatically complete Inkscape command line commands in a Linux terminal (bash completion) (Commit)
  • in command line arguments, '0' and '1' had been inverted. They now mean the correct thing (0 = False, 1 = True) (Commit)

Even more bug fixes

There were even more issues fixed than those listed above, but these probably only affect a small portion of users, or are relevant for development and packaging only.

For a complete list, visit our GitLab issue tracker and see the commit history (all changes since DATE until release date).

Translations

The following user interface translations received updates:

  • Catalan
  • Chinese
  • Croatian
  • Czech
  • Dutch
  • German
  • Hungarian
  • Icelandic
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Ukrainian

The following documentation translations received updates:

  • Catalan
  • Croatian
  • French
  • German

Contributing to translations

Want to help with translations? Learn how to help!

Documentation

  • A few keyboard shortcuts and examples were fixed / updated

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Contributing to documentation and documentation translation

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Contributions to the documentation translations, as well as improvements to its contents, are welcome at the inkscape-docs repository.

Known issues

  • The performance issues on macOS persist.
  • Many of Inkscape's old bug reports still need to be tested and migrated to the new bug and feature request reporting page. While some progress has already been made, we still need your help with that task.
  • All (migrated and new) open issues for the project are listed on GitLab. If you have some time on your hands and can help fixing them, join us in the development chat and let us tackle them together.