There are so many free photo editing tools available. However, most of them are focused more on filters for selfies and other casual pics. Most lack the functionality needed for product photo editing.
Here is a review of some of our favorite free editing tools that have the core functionality needed for product editing.
GIMP – advanced functionality, free alternative to Photoshop
GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is what many photographers consider to be the best alternative to Photoshop. It is freeware that is compatible with a number of operating systems and offers its users a great selection of tools.
After spending time using it, I can see why people love it. I was particularly impressed by its really easy to use selection tools. The picture of the Dandelion shows how effective the Remove Holes selection tool is. Over the years I have spent far too many hours adding areas to my selections and this tool is what made me love GIMP.
In terms of general editing, it also includes CMYK color profiles, which is needed for printing. I would have to say that when the time comes to renew my Photoshop subscription, I may consider dumping it for GIMP. I was also particularly impressed with the online tutorials and release notes/news section. Everything is easy to understand and to the point. You don’t have to spend hours watching videos when you can read the concise instructions in a few minutes.
The Nik Collection – makes photoshop edits simple
In March 2016, Google shocked many when it made its fantastic photo editing tools – Google Nik Collection – available for free. This is an add-on to Photoshop. It provides a bunch of automated editing functions (like filters).
What I love about this versatile software is the range of tools it provides. It runs as an add-on to Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom and Elements, as well as Apple Aperture. This powerful multi-function tool allows even beginner users to expertly edit and correct their photos.
Photoscape – good for bulk editing
Another favorite is PhotoScape. This program is feature rich and handy to have. The variety of filters, tools and special effects found in this freeware is great. It allows users to batch edit, merge multiple photos, resize, create animated GIFS and convert RAW images to name a few. It is fun, functional and easy to use. This easy to download program, just over 20 MB, is proof that dynamite comes in small packages. After spending a week using it, I was impressed.
Pixlr – cloud editing app
My final choice is Pixlr. The core functionality is similar to the other tools but they have a great cloud app, which lets you edit pics online. So if you’re traveling and have an image in your email or dropbox that you need to edit right way, Pixlr Editor is great.
This is a web-based app which means you use it online and don’t have to download it to your machine. I love that with Pixlr Editor, if I need to do a quick edit while away from my desk/computer, I can just login on any machine and do it. It has everything you need, such as curves, exposure, brightness and contrast and the option to work in layers.
These are four great tools – each has it’s strengths and performs well for product photography needs.
As a Photoshop user, I love the versatility and functionality offered by the Nik Collection. For a free tool, it is fabulous and it makes me look like a top-notch editing pro. The only drawback is that it is not yet compatible with GIMP.
GIMP impressed me! I am a die-hard Photoshop fan and I was reluctant to use the program as I felt it was being praised by people who had yet to learn Photoshop… but boy, was I wrong! I loved using it. It felt familiar but was different enough to not be called a clone. I feel for product photography and most other types, there is absolutely nothing wrong with cheeping out and using GIMP and if the Nik Collection becomes compatible with GIMP, I will certainly abandon the expense of Photoshop in a heartbeat.
PhotoScape is pleasant to use and what made it score high in my books was the resizing option. I was able to increase the size of an image and the pixilation was minimal.
The versatility of Pixlr Editor is what makes this an amazing editing tool and one I would recommend. Pixlr’s desktop download did not blow me away but I love the web-based editor.
Spend some time with these tools and let us know what you think. Is it worth using free tools like GIMP or Photoscape to avoid paying for Photoshop?