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Types of Photo Editing Software and Tools

Those involved in the image editing industry know how important it is to select a photo editing software suite that provides all the utilities and functionality necessary to get the job done correctly. But with so many different types of image editing software and programs available on the market, how can you know which one is right for your particular project? Purchasing a photo editing suite isn’t cheap – and losing the thousands of dollars you invest in what might turn out to be the wrong application for your needs can mean the difference between a profitable project and lost money.

Software aimed at image editing offer a smaller range of potential software choices, and most of the high-end editing tools out there are fairly similar in the way they handle a workload. But when it comes to software used to edit photos, it seems like there are new choices all the time. A brief look at the landscape, and a quick query of industry experts, will generally narrow down the field to five separate suites:

Photoshop CS

Like an old, experienced boxer, Photoshop has been defending its title for decades. Most photo editing professionals are fluent in Photoshop, and Adobe has an excellent track record of providing both a stable and a highly flexible platform that uses minimal computational power to provide maximum photo editing capabilities. However, Photoshop CS has one problem – it’s enormously expensive. At two to three thousand dollars for a professional Photoshop CS software arrangement, this suite is out of reach for many smaller design firms or boutiques.

Photoshop Elements

A consumer version of Photoshop CS, Elements provides much of the horsepower and functionality of the premium Adobe design product at a sixth of the price, making it an extremely attractive choice for smaller firms or newly funded departments.

Paint Shop Pro

An even more affordable choice for raster image editing software, PSP boasts a very attractive price tag along with instant access to compatibility plug ins that allow the user to read and save files that can be opened with Adobe products. However, PSP is still not available in a 64 bit version, leading industry insiders to speculate as to whether or not this software will be around much longer.

The GIMP

For those who prefer an open source solution, GIMP, or General Image Manipulation Program, is free to use and distribute. While this makes it an excellent choice for agencies looking to dabble in photo editing, the lack of corporate support and lackluster security makes it a poor choice for serious image work.

Picasa

More of an image storehouse than a full featured manipulation program, Picasa is an excellent complement to any of the other suites mentioned above. While the program does offer a selection of image editing and retouching tools, you won’t find the same level of sophistication here as you would with Photoshop or PSP.