Low Budget Image Editing Alternatives – aka No Budget Photoshop

A couple of weeks back I discussed my research into alternatives for Photoshop CS4 for my yearbook program.  So far, no alternative really exists if you need to create quality CMYK TIF images from JPGs.  But if you are running an online newspaper program or a web design class, then there are a lot of online, free alternatives to buying software.

I cribbed this list from 10,000 Words, but I’m going to only comment on those that I see worthy to include in a classroom context.

Update: (1/20/09) New tool Sumo Paint – this image editor is the most like Photoshop, except for Photoshop Express.  The tool set is very similar, but it also only exports as PNG or JPG.  Still it is free with no registration required.  (4 1/2 Stars)

Fotoflexer is a product of Photobucket, which I have used and works fine.  Fotoflexer can crop, flip, adjust and change to JPG or PNG.  It is basic and works pretty good.  It’s best features are the colorization and the cool “motivational poster” frame.  (3 stars)

Photoshop Express – I probably one of the most full featured online editors I’ve seen.  You do have to sign up for a free account, but it gives you storage space besides.  It can do the basics like crop and red eye correction, but Photoshop Express also has the best color correction and grayscale tools I’ve seen online.  You can also host and link to photos in your PE account too.  (4 1/2 stars)

Picnik – Is a really easy to use web editor that has a great crop tool for web designers/online newspapers that can crop using pixel measurements and uses and actual histogram to adjust brightness and contrast.  It even has a white balance (neutral color picker) that does a good job of eliminating color casts.  It has the best scaling feature I’ve seen and allows you to save as GIF, PNG, JPG, TIF, and PDF.  (5 stars)

DrPic – The one thing this editor has going for it is size.  The application downloads your photo at a large size on your monitor.  This makes cropping very easy.  The downside of this editor is everything else.  The interface is clumsy.  The tools are underpowered and it simply will not meet the needs of an online media shooter.  (1 star)

Snipshot – Much like DrPic, this editor just doesn’t measure up.  It will save in many formats, but the interface is somewhat confusing and the effects and edits are not in real time.  Not worthy of consideration (2 stars)

rsizr – If all you want to do is quickly change the size of an image, then this is for you.  But why would you choose it, when there are so many other more full featured applications available. (1 star)

easycropper – Need a thumbnail really fast?  Ok, then this is your app.  Otherwise it is useless.  (1 star)

Pixenate – Just another plain photo editor.  Not maxworthy. (1 star)

Slpashup – This photo editor has promise.  There is a great interface and “photoshop-like” experience.  But it lacks decent color tools and seems like it is designed more for teen users.  It also only saves as JPG, PNG and FXO (?) It does have a place to suggest features, so maybe it will improve in the future.  (2 stars)

Lunapic – This photo editor is definitely aimed at the myspace generation.  It is not for anyone serious about editing pictures.  It does have some fun features like glitter animation and an “obamanator.”  (2 stars)

72photos – This is a site that spent way too much on their web site and not enough on the actual photo editor.  The editor does nearly nothing.  It is a pretty site, but not worth the visit.  (1 star)

Imagizer – If you liked running lines of code in DOS or like to play with command line UNIX, then you’ll love this app.  It has some features worth using if they had a real GUI.  (2 stars)

VicImager – Another throwback to the days of DOS 3.o and needing to be a programmer in order to use a computer.  Not ready for prime time.  (2 stars)

Online Image Editor – Yet another myspace photo editor.  (1 star)

Piccyfix – Not bad for an editor that is not GUI.  The interface is a little confusing sometimes and less than intuitive, which means read ALL the directions.  But it actually does a good job of cropping, adjusting and toning.  Finally it can save GIF, JPG and PNG files.  Not bad.  (3 stars)

Pixer.us – Simple, easy to use, but it doesn’t have any advanced tools and many of the effects are not real time.  (1 star)

FixPicture – Not bad, but it lacks control and some real time features.  The controls are too simple and don’t really give the user enough options.  The output formats run the full gamut, but the lack of real tools is a minus.  (2 stars)