Cheap photo editing software for PC

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by kallisti, Jun 6, 2013.

  1. macrumors 6502a


    Apr 22, 2003
    I'm sure there is a thread on this somewhere, but don't want to dig. Apologies :)

    My niece is young but seems to have caught the photography bug with her smartphone. I think she has a really good eye with some promise. I just bought her a Nikon D3200 to kind of expand her horizons--and also give her access to my lenses if she decides to stick with this.

    She uses a PC and her family is on a budget.

    Suggestions for an inexpensive or free software program for photo editing? Ideally one that could process RAW, but since she is just starting out and on a tight budget, JPEG alone would work.

    At some point if this becomes something she sticks with I'd get her Lightroom. But at this point, I'm looking for something that lets her do basic editing and get a feel for manipulating her images in post.

    The D3200 includes some Nikon software, but I don't have any experience using it and don't know what it is capable of.

    Would welcome any ideas.
  2. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    Adobe Photoshop Elements or Pixelmator or even Gimp could help?
  3. thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Apr 22, 2003
    Completely forgot about Photoshop Elements. I tend to use Aperture or Lightroom for most things, only rarely needing to use Photoshop.

    For my niece, I think Elements will be a good fit.

    Thanks for the reply.
  4. macrumors 6502a


    Apr 19, 2008
    Las Vegas, Nv
  5. macrumors demi-god


    Apr 27, 2011
    #5 is worth a try. It's free (donation requested). I tried it a little bit for simple edits in my Windows days but that was a few years ago. You can get it at
  6. macrumors 68020


    Jan 30, 2008
    Washington DC
    Adobe has taken all its products to a monthly subscription service. If you can afford $19 a month you can get PhotoShop CS6 along with Bridge. You can do all the editing you want. Plus, it can be on more than one machine.
  7. macrumors 6502a

    Jul 22, 2010
    Not "all its products" are on a monthly subscription. Lightroom and Photoshop Elements (and I believe Acrobat also) are available as a direct purchase.
  8. macrumors G3


    Aug 3, 2011
    Gramps, what the hell am I paying you for?
    This isn't my area of expertise, so I can't comment on how good or bad it is, but I've heard Darktable is an excellent open source Aperture/Lightroom alternative.
  9. macrumors 68020


    Oct 25, 2008
    Ideal answer on the question.
  10. macrumors 6502


    Mar 9, 2013
    Hi there,

    All Nikons come with ViewNX 2 for free
    This will get her started,
    I have been using Nikon software for years, including Nikon Capture NX2, but that will cost about the same as Light Room

    ViewNX2 will be all she needs for the time being,
    Quite powerful really and you have the advantage of,
    Accurately reading raw files,
    Editing raw files,
    Exposure corrections,
    White balance corrections,
    Easy conversion to jpeg,
    Easy resize for the web, including the ability to select the pixels on the longest side
    A browser with many options,
    Easy transfer from card,
    And the list goes on
    No need to buy anything!
    If you have trouble using ViewNX, just send me a PM an I will help you out
  11. macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California

    Adobe Photoshop Elements (an older but servicable version) is bundled with many versions of the Wacom Graphic tablet. Buy a Wacom for $80 and get Elements free. She will need the tablet to do any serious edits

    Or use "Gimp" for free. But Gimp has a steeper learning curve like Photoshop. But it is the best, most full featured software after Photoshop and the price is right.

    Google's "Picasa" is free and not bad.


    Yes, for anyone who can't afford a new Mac their best option is to get an Windows PC and reformat it, erasing Windows and install Ubuntu. Then you have access to loads of good free software. Darktable is one, and Gimp is another, then Open Office
  12. macrumors 65816

    Apr 29, 2007
    My first thought was Perfect Photo Suite 7 - - a brilliant product with different pricing levels. The standalone version is $80, whilst the Lightroom/Aperture version (which can be used a standalone app and/or as a plug-in for Lightroom/Aperture) is on offer for $100. There’s a heck of a lot of functionality there - simple enough to produce great looking pictures easily, but enough depth as the user’s needs goes. I love it and a professional botanical photographer I know says it’s the main app he uses these days.

    However, I then thought what about organising her photos? Although Lightroom and Perfect Photo Suite would be a terrific combination, Picasa might be a better starting point.
  13. macrumors 68020


    Oct 25, 2008
    Pixelmator is an ideal beginners software that lets beginners learn quite a bit and if they remain interested they often graduate up to gimp or Photoshop. From what I hear from beginners, they prefer it over Adobe Photoshop Elements but don't seem to have a real direct reason why.

    I think Lightroom and Aperture are good for "corrections" but far more limited than Pixelmator and Elements in some types of "editing."
  14. macrumors 6502a

    Aug 24, 2008
    I think an editing app might be more useful than a gallery/raw developer like Lightroom. If anything, it might force her to take less pictures and work on them harder. I think that if you don't shoot a whole lot, you can get by with judicious folder organization rather than a dedicated app as well.

    I think Photoshop Elements would be the right choice. It's quite affordable at 70$ and if you can get it bundled with a wacoom bamboo (per ChisA's recomendation) for not much more than that would be even better, even if it comes with an older version of Photoshop. I can see the tablet being useful for many years to come. Another advantage of Photoshop Elements is that she could follow along the thousands of Photoshop tutorials on youtube.

    I've never tried Photoshop Elements, but I think it prepares you nicely for the real deal by having a similar workflow (adjustment layers, smart objects...). I was not impressed with Pixelmator, just the lack of adjustment layer made it useless for me and I'm far from being a pro but doing non destructive editing (the ability to always go back and tweak things you did through your editing process) is key. Anyhow, it doesn't exist in Windows...

    I've given Gimp a spin in the past. It's powerful but I wouldn't recommend it to a beginner, especially if they're not tech buffs.
  15. macrumors 65816

    Apr 26, 2008
    The OP mentioned that the girl was using a PC, so I am assuming that the computer is not a Mac. Anyway, if the computer was Mac, I would recommend the very powerful but cheap "poor man's Photoshop,"

    Graphic Converter.

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