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Customer Discussions > Photography forum

Best photo enhancement software for beginners

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Showing 101-123 of 123 posts in this discussion
Posted on Sep 11, 2011 12:50:48 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 11, 2011 12:53:48 PM PDT
I haven't read all the posts in the four pages of this thread yet, so these points may have already been mentioned, but I think they are worthwhile nonetheless:

Why don't you just use the Canon Digital Photo Professional software bundled with your camera? It should offer pretty much everything that you are looking for, and doesn't have a huge learning curve. That's what I started out with before moving to Lightroom. Best of all, it's free!

The $300 normal price for Lightroom 3 might seem a bit steep for an amateur just getting started, but you do get what you pay for. Additionally, it has been going on sale quote often recently if you keep on eye on it. I ended up getting it when it dropped to $120 on Amazon back in June, but I see it regularly drop to the ~$150 range every other week or so. Even better if you're a student/teacher, it's only $70!

Posted on Sep 15, 2011 7:13:36 AM PDT
Paul Bogan says:
Not sure if this has been covered yet (it's early and the coffee hasn't kicked in yet), but part of deciding on your software will depend on the kind of editing you're doing. GIMP, Photoshop (both the full version and Elements), Lightroom, and are all good (plus GIMP and Paint will cost you nothing), but each does different things than the others. Lightroom, besides being good for adjusting color, contrast, etc. (the same kinds of things you'd have done in a darkroom if you were working with film) is also a great workflow management tool. and Elements have similar capabilities and learning curves. GIMP and PS have tons of features, some of which you may never get around to using, and are meant for serious photographic intervention. :) So a lot's going to depend on you, and what you want/need to do. If you're just looking to make some tweaks to the overall appearance, you may not need all the features of the full version of PS, and if you're not doing batch editing, you may not need LR. Of course, this also requires some thinking ahead, not just to what you do now, but what you'd like to do.

Hope this helps.

Posted on Sep 16, 2011 2:29:05 PM PDT
For the beginner, Roxio's Media Suite is pretty sweet and it pretty much covers all of your multimedia needs. I've tried the strip down versions of Photo Shop and still need to learn a lot of stuff to make it work right. Roxio is pretty much an out of the box easy to use tool

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 17, 2011 7:14:23 AM PDT
JE in SH says:
You'd get a better result by learning to use aperture (not the software, real aperture) and motion panning (also not software). It's laughable to suggest that great photos come from software manipulation. My advice to anyone is learn to use the camera, not jump into an image editor.

Posted on Sep 17, 2011 3:32:11 PM PDT
I started off with Photoscape (free) then I added picas/picnick. Gave Photoshop CS5 a go and saw the improvement with my post processing. About a month ago I started using Lightroom and I love it. Yesterday I started using OnOne but haven't dug into it yet but so far it looks like it has it's uses. When it comes to portraiture I lean towards lightroom. For landscapes and still-life photos i'm inclined to utilize CS5. If your new at post processing I recommend Photoscape. You'll get the hang of it and want to move over to better utilities.


In reply to an earlier post on Oct 8, 2011 12:26:22 PM PDT
I love Picasa. Easy to use . If you try it be sure to get 3.0 version.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 8, 2011 6:46:07 PM PDT
Try Photoscape it's free, easy to use, and does very professional results. Download it from CNET Downloads. Another one that I use is Picassa, which is also free.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 10, 2011 5:47:41 AM PDT
You are rigt on using the guided mode!!!

Posted on Oct 11, 2011 6:50:24 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 11, 2011 7:02:19 PM PDT
Amol Kolhe says:
Picasa and iPhoto are the best Photo enhancement and organization tools for beginners. I have around 15,000 Photos. While I've been used Adobe Photoshop/Paint Shop Pro/Gimp since awhile (but I'm not a pro, I don't use them daily), I feel that for basic fixes, Picasa and iPhoto beats the costlier alternatives. Aperture will be the next logical step from iPhoto.

iPhoto used to be mostly useless, but since 2009, Apple got their act together and have been adding features to it, targeted for home users.

List of things for which I like to use Picasa:
- I'm feeling lucky (Auto correction of color and contrast)
- Increase Highlights, Shadows, fill light
- Change color temperature
- Sometimes add effects like soft focus, granulated tint, etc.
- Rotate, Crop photos
- Batch conversions or resizing
- Uploading to Google Photos

List of things for which I like to use iPhoto:
- Enhance Photo (Auto correction of color and contrast, works slightly better than Picasa)
- Change Exposure, Contrast, Saturation, Highlights, Shadows
- Change color temperature or tint
- Sometimes add effects like Edge blur, vignette etc
- Rotate, Crop photos
- Batch conversions or resizing
- Uploading to Facebook, Flikr, Google Photos

iPhoto can only be used on a Mac while Picasa can be used on Mac, Windows and Linux. Both are free (iPhoto comes pre-installed on macs, its price is factored into the price of the mac).

If these are not enough, then Gimp deserves a try. It is free.

If you use these tools on a very limited basis, then you may consider using Web Apps which work best in Google Chrome Browser:

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 12, 2011 3:35:08 AM PDT
W. Payne says:
For what you say you want to do, it doesn't get any easier than Lightroom. Nor does it get any cheaper. If you really look, you can get an OEM copy cheap. I spent $55 on a legal copy of Lightroom and $55 on a legal copy of Elements 9. Elements is a bit more than a beginner needs, but to be honest it is not all that hard to learn either if you want to invest a little time. The great thing about Lightroom is that it is designed so that you can easily use what you need and ignore the rest. But to be honest the most important tool in (digital) photography is the photographer. There is no substitute for doing it right, starting with lens selection and composition. Take a few classes at a local community college or online and learn the important stuff first. Then touch-ups are easier and more effective.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 12, 2011 3:40:34 AM PDT
W. Payne says:
RAW is no more a problem for a newbie than proper exposure. Both can make a big difference in the final product. If you want to shoot JPEG then you might as well stick with the capabilities of a good point-and-shoot. Not that there is anything wrong with that, because they have some great capabilities now and are getting better with every release. But if you aren't going to use the capabilities of a dSLR then why have one. And shooting in RAW now, even if you don't know what to do with the files yet, can save data in your pics to allow more flexibility in future edits.

Posted on Oct 12, 2011 9:27:51 AM PDT
T. Campbell says:
"And shooting in RAW now, even if you don't know what to do with the files yet, can save data in your pics to allow more flexibility in future edits."

Agree - the average person has no more info about the internal format of a RAW file than they know about the internal format of a JPEG file. The software handles all of that so that we don't have to. The end user doesn't do anything different or special just because it's RAW.

In terms of capability, however, the effect on image quality can be huge. A typical landscape photo might easily require 5 stops of dynamic range. If the highlight tones in a JPEG image are at the limit of it's 8-bit range, then the shadow tones 5 stops down would have... AT BEST .. a mere 8 bits of room to work with. That means no wiggle room and image artifacts like posterization and banding can become a problem.

To do the same thing with RAW (which varies by camera model but most cameras probably have 14-bit depth), if the highlight tones are near the top of the 14 bit depth (16,384 values of red green and blue) then the shadowy gray tone FIVE FULL STOPS down would still have RGB values of roughly 500,500,500 -- which is still more room to play with than the entire JPEG range.

I only shoot in RAW and only do my post processing workflow in RAW... no JPEG. JPEG is what I generate when I'm done and ready to share the output.

The point of this is... in terms of complexity and learning curves there is absolutely no difference to the end user whether they shoot & process in JPEG vs. RAW. But in terms of the quality of the final output, the difference can be substantial. I would not recommend software that isn't capable of working in RAW because when the user's images hit the point where they need RAW workflow they'd have to dump the product and pick up something more capable (and that means a new learning curve.) Just get something that can to RAW from the beginning.

I HIGHLY recommend that if you have a Mac you should get either Aperture or Lightroom. If you have a PC then you should get Lightroom. An advanced photographer (professional or serious amateur) will "eventually" need Photoshop (it's a tool you have to have... but will hardly ever need to use.) I've used both Aperture and Lightroom and they're intended to compete directly with each other and, as such, it's sort of like Nikon vs. Canon, Coke vs. Pepsi, and Chevy vs. Ford. You can nit pick all you want, but in the end they are extremely similar. Apple lowered the price of Aperture to $79 (as long as you buy it via the online "App Store" -- otherwise it's $199.) Adobe charges $299 for Lightroom. They sometimes run specials. You may also somehow qualify for a discount (educational discounts are common.) For example... if you've ever wanted to own a graphics tablet, Wacom (the gold standard of graphics tablets) has a deal that bundles the Intuos 4 medium tablet (ordinarily about $350 and you'd do well to find it for $300) WITH Adobe Lightroom for $399 (that's like getting Lightroom for $50). Adobe *just* had a half-off sale (I think it was a 24-hour thing) about a week ago.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 12, 2011 12:38:35 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 12, 2011 12:40:47 PM PDT
I tend to shoot in both RAW and jpeg. I think this works out to be the fastest workflow...since I can quickly process jpegs that were already exposed in such a way that it looks fine in 8bpc (and I haven't run into too many issues of camera jpegs being to lossy). For those images where I would like to adjust contrast/exposure (say take out a blown highlight or get more detail in shadows), then I'll work with RAW. One note about dynamic range: most new DSLRs are processing color at 14bpc. The sensor is always going to be less then that. Some of the best sensors get a little over 12 stops of light at ISO 100. When you increase ISO, the signal to noise ratio decreases in the sensor...and you're left with less dynamic range.

Backing up your photos in RAW (and the full camera resolution) is a good option: you never know if you'll want to go back to them to adjust something here or there, or to have full resolution so that you can make enlargements. Using a Raw converter to be able to layer several different "converted exposures", and then mask those different areas using a Wacom tablet, as well as creating other layers with different color or sharpness adjustments is what I like to spend time with on those shots that I care most about (and certainly gives me more leeway with a source that's got the whole range of the sensor vs a jpeg).

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 12, 2011 4:24:07 PM PDT
C. Gomez says:
Try Photoscape. Free software. I found it on Alot of things that you can do with that.

Posted on Oct 15, 2011 5:05:57 AM PDT
S. Nehring says:
A late add to this topic but in case someone new is reading through this thread... I second the suggestion of paint shop pro 13. It is reasonably priced and has extensive help menus for new users. The 13 version also allows you to work with RAW, which wasn't an option in earlier versions.

JCUKNZ mentions saving issues above. I have my PSP set up to always auto-save the original file so I'm never overwriting it. You end up with 2 versions of your photos but it gives you the opportunity to go back to the original time and time again to try out new options.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 17, 2011 9:59:07 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 17, 2011 10:00:41 AM PDT
Safe Hot says:
I agree with Clint A. Hebrew; though DPP cannot be compared with Photoshop or GIMP it has fairly advanced features. However its user interface may not be as good as Photoshop but far better than GIMP.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 17, 2011 1:33:48 PM PDT
John S. says:
If you are a College Student, make sure you check with your school's computer store for Discount Prices for Adobe products.... The Full CS5 Master Edition suite cost me $599. Lightroom was $70.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2011 12:18:03 PM PST
RVicary says:
ABSOLUTELY the best program for a beginner! I love this program and am very attached. Been using it since vs. 7 as well and you can't go wrong with it being so easy to learn and AFFORDABLE!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2011 3:20:59 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 27, 2011 5:49:00 PM PST
®ichard says:
not laughable. Most professionals only show their edited photos. I am not a pro, so most of my photos are straight from the camera, but the one I do edits has more effects/better then the original.

Some pro works I follow:

looking at their exif data it is photoshop they use.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2011 4:06:34 PM PST
Older Dog says:
re, I'd go along the unnamed poster above who suggested Photoshop Elements (or Photopaint). I can't speak to Photopaint, not having used it since the 90s. But while I primarily use CS-5 Photoshop, Lightroom and assorted other programs, Photoshop E does a lot really well. I'd also take a look if you use Apple at iPhoto. It's a simple, easy to use editing and cataloging program. Also cheap. It has a lot of virtues.

I would just add that at some point, you may decide to accept the cost of a higher-cost and more complicated program. That would be Lightroom for most people. If, but only if, you've used iPhoto would I consider Aperture. I own the current edition and while it keeps getting better, it goes about things in a way that doesn't fit my workflow. That might not be the case if you use iPhoto, but I can't say for sure because iPhoto is not my routine processor. It allows you to easily post pictures to or mail them. It can work quite well even for advanced amateurs who choose not to manipulate to a great fineness. Get used to the camera. If you're happy, keep doing what you're doing. I think eventually you will want to take advantage for RAW, but wait until it's time.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2011 9:39:21 AM PST
EdM says:
PSE currently has a very good price [perhaps for Cyber Monday?]. Adobe Photoshop Elements 10

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2011 12:17:20 PM PST
Love Amazon says:
I agree with the post on Adobe Photoshop Elements 9. I purchased that software, as I didn't want to bite the bullet and purchase the more expensive Adobe software. I was pleasantly surprised. Just search around for what you are wanting to do, and they will lead you through it. We have six grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter. I could not get a good picture of all of them. I was able to choose the best picture then photoshop the others into it and come up with a great picture of all seven.
This is just my opinion. But I love it.

Posted on May 1, 2012 2:26:33 PM PDT
C Tong says:
Photoscape is also free,i use it a lot it has many effects and enhancements,frames,cropping etc,fantastic free software
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Discussion in:  Photography forum
Participants:  79
Total posts:  123
Initial post:  Jul 10, 2011
Latest post:  May 1, 2012

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