Confused about which digital photography software you need?
Fun with digital photography software
One of the fun parts with digital photography is all the different software available. You can “do a lot” with the photos after they are shot. A lot of this was impossible or at least very difficult to do in the analog days, when everything was done in the dark room.
There is a lot of different digital photography software available, each of them for different tasks. Most likely some kind of image software came with your digital camera. Often this software has limited functions and you will after a while start looking for alternatives.
Most of us when starting digital photography only need software to do simple cropping, resizing, red-eye removal and brightness/contrast adjustments. A lot of the best digital photography software has these features. If you are a more than an average digital photographer you will probably need software that handles layers, dodging/burning and have effect filters.
Growing number of photos?
After I started shooting digital I soon realized the photos took up a lot of my hard drive space. Unfortunately it took long time until I understood I needed to organize my photos better. Only using Windows built in folders which I gave appropriate named was not good enough as the number of photos grew. There are wealth of digital photography software available that can help you with everything you need to organize and take care of your digital images.
For convenience I have divided the different types of digital photography software into groups:
1. Image viewing and organizing software
You will need image viewing software to see your pictures on the computer. The built in viewer in Windows will do the job for most of us. However as your number of images grow you will most likely look for a software with additional features.
What I have experienced is the need for an image viewer which demand little resources from the computer and which is quicker than Windows explorer. Most viewers also have editing capabilities, however some of them very limited. If you only need an Image viewer some of the Freeware versions will do the job.
Unfortunately too many digital photos live their life on some ones hard drive without being seen. The reason for this is the lack of organizing the photos. With digital photography it has become very easy to shoot loads of pictures as the cost will not increase with an increasing number of photos. With proper image organizing software you can add keywords to the pictures and you can search for and find exactly the photos you want later. Your images deserve that – right? Have a look at some recommendations here.
2. Image editing software
With an image editor you can make simple adjustments to your photos as cropping (resizing), color and exposure adjustment, red-eye removal and other simple adjustments that can make an otherwise bad photo a winner. Sooner or later you will probably enter into more advanced editing like modifying the whole picture by removing unwanted parts or even replacing parts of a photo with a more suitable part from a totally different photo.
All this is possible in the digital world, but it requires relative advanced software to do this. This type of software is available at different prices from totally free up to hundreds of dollars. They also come with different functionality - for the beginner to the advanced photographer. There are many commercial available image software packages that all offers the most used editing functions. What comes into count when you decide is – what are you going to do with your photos and how much money are you willing to spend. Have a look at some recommendations here.
3. Free image editing software
You don’t need to pay a lot of money for a good image editor anymore. Many freeware versions have become very advanced and have even the most advanced features. Have a look at some recommendations here.
4. Online image editing software
Other options if you don’t want to install any new digital photography software on your computer, is the online image software. There are several options available and they are actually quite advanced. This is a good option if you only need to do some resizing, cropping and simple adjustments to a few photos.
This is not the way to go if you have many photos that needs to be changed. I have tried a few of these software and they do what they are supposed to do, but can sometimes be quite slow. This is probably dependent on the traffic and how many users are online. Have a look at some recommendations here.
5. Image presentation software
When you have organized your photos properly it is easy to find them later and show them to your friends and even to the world via the web. There are many different ways you can show your photos. Earlier when we used film, the most common was to get prints from the print shop and put them into albums.
Slideshow software can save your presentation as screensavers, burn to CD, DVD, prepare for iPod and e-mail and even for online sharing. Most common is to show the photos on the computer or LCD TV as slideshows.
Other options are to prepare a presentation you can show on a photo sharing web site or even at your own. Most slideshow software has both these features. You can make flash or HTML slideshow and simply upload them to a web site.
6. Special imaging software
There is also loads of other specialized digital photography software available. The most common of them are RAW converters for conversion of RAW files. If you have one of the commercial available image editing packages it most likely already have a RAW converter built in. If not the stand alone versions are good options.
Other popular software is for making panoramas, so called stitching software. If you like panoramas or want to try you will need this software. Even panorama software is included in some of the image editing packages.
Recently HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography has become very popular. This is a nice technique and when used the right way can create very interesting photos and effects. You will need a HDR software to process HDR images.
Be aware that many of the commercial available digital photography software also can be downloaded at no cost as demos so you can have a chance to test out how it works before you decide to buy.