A round-up of the best low-cost image editing software, including free photo editing applications:


A round-up of the best low-cost image editing software, including free photo editing applications:

Serif PhotoPlus (www.serif.com) is now in version 6 and covers image editing and multimedia production, with tools for creating, manipulating and enhancing photographs, bitmap graphics and web animations. Downloadable tutorials are provided to help new users master PhotoPlus’s image enhancement and selection tools, smart shapes editable text, image slicing and image maps and export optimiser.

Pixia (http://park18.wakwak.com/~pixia/) is a retouching and painting application that was created in Japan by Isao Maruoka but is now available in an English version – as well as other languages. Its tool set includes vector- and bitmap-based drawing tools, custom brush tips, multiple layers, masking, colour, tone, and lighting adjustments and multiple undo/redo.

VCW VicMan’s Photo Editor (www.vicman.net) is a versatile image editor with an intuitive interface and user friendly features, which supports simple image editing, high productivity and easy customisation. It supports most popular file formats and many Photoshop filters and allows users to import images from any TWAIN source. A more powerful Pro version is available for $US49.95.

Image Forge (www.cursorarts.com) combines photo editing with painting tools and allows users to import images from scanners and digital cameras, apply special effects filters, and create photo albums and slideshows. The freeware version is a ‘teaser’ for the more powerful ImageForge PRO, which sells for $US28.95 and contains a full set of painting, editing and imaging functions. Windows only.

Ultimate Paint (www.ultimatepaint.com) is a full-featured 32-bit Windows graphics program for image creation, viewing and manipulation. It supports most popular image and graphics file formats and works with TWAIN-compliant devices as well as providing read-only support for AVI and ICO files. Available free as a trial version, it is also offered with varying levels of sophistication. The beginner’s Ultimate Paint Standard can be downloaded for $US34.95)

PhotoFiltre (http://photofiltre.free.fr) is a very simple application that was developed in France but is offered in multiple languages. It has a built-in image browser and support for basic drawing, painting, retouching and selection tools, and batch processing capabilities. Unfortunately it doesn’t support layers or transparency, although it has plenty of one-click image adjustments, filters, and effects.

Express PhotoShow (www.simplestar.com) bundles an automatic image file cataloguer with basic editing facilities that let users fix colour, brightness and red-eyes with a single click. It also supports a range of filters and editing tools as well as facilities for creating animated musical slideshows, calendars and on-line image sharing. Windows only.

Affordable Image Editors

ACDSee 7 (www.acdsystems.com) combines image management with tools for enhancing photographs, sending e-mails, creating slideshows and outputting to recordable discs and prints. Users can edit images without launching a separate editor, view image histograms and rate and sort photos by personal preferences. Selling for $US49.99, it is available for a 30-day free trial. Windows only.

PM Imagic v2.5 (http://www.stoik.com/imagic25/) is a full-featured, all-in-one digital photo editor that supports 48-bit colour. Features include one-click correction of dust and scratches and red-eyes plus a Smart Tune control for adjusting brightness and contrast. One-button downloading of images from digital cameras is provided, along with TWAIN scanners support. Available for a free 15-day trial, it costs $US49.00 to register. Windows only.

Colormailer Photo Manager (www.colormailer.com) combines a file manager with an album-based image organiser and offers some simple batch processing facilities. It can also be used for modifying/re-touching images; resizing and sending photos directly via e-mail; printing photos at home and burning photos onto a CD or DVD. The program is available as a shareware download from on a 30-day trial basis plus a subsequent one-off charge of ø‚ £6.50 (Euro 9.90) for the ongoing activation key.

PentaSuite DigiPhoto (www.pentazip.com) $US 69.95 contains 17 utilities and allows full control over image files (RAW or other formats) through a group of easy to use, well integrated programs that an amateur, experienced user or professional can put to good use with ease. Users can view, edit and convert files, create photo albums, save images from movies or common graphics files and copy files to a CD or DVD.

Picture Window Pro (www.dl-c.com) is a Windows-only application that combines extensive image editing facilities with full support for colour management using ICC colour profiles, scanner support, a built-in browser and full printer support including poster printing. Users can work with up to 48-bit image files and produce create albums and layouts and electronic slide shows. Available as a 30-day trial evaluation download, a full version can be purchased for $US89.95.