Sunday, September 5, 2010

My Top 5 Free Photo Managers

I love taking pictures.  Just ask my family and friends.  (I drive them crazy, probably!)  I'm estimating, but I probably have near twenty thousand digital photos that date back to 2004.  I even have a 1 terabyte(1024 gigabytes) external hard drive hooked up to my computer, just to hold my pictures and videos!

I have spent many hours downloading and trying free photo managers that are available on the internet, and found several I like and would use.  These are my five personal favorites... not in any particular order.

  • Simple, easy to use interface
  • Limited categorizing capabilities
  • Photo editing: YES
  •  Great for viewing, resizing, cropping and basic editing

  • Well-designed, intuitive & customizable user interface
  • Categorizing & annotating capabilities; can even add audio notes to photos
  • GEOtagging
  • Photo editing: YES
  • Make panoramas and 3D images
  • Upload to Flickr web albums or Facebook
  • Email photos from within program

  • Innovative, fun to use interface, but can be cumbersome
  • Categorizing and annotating capabilities
  • Photo editing: NO
  • GEOtagging

  • Innovative interface, but can be irritating
  • Categorizing & annotating capabilities
  • Photo editing: YES
  •  GEOtagging
  •  Face detection technology
  • Create collages & other projects
  • Email photos from within the program
  • Upload to Picasa web albums or Blogger blogs
  • Order online prints

  • Basic viewer & editor interface
  • Photo editor: YES
  • No categorizing or annotating capabilites
  • Lots of easy to use, creative utilities
  • Includes a RAW to JPG converter

Note: Most of these programs do have editing functions, but I am recommending them for their managing ability, not their editing.  For editing digital photos, I still highly recommend and use Sagelight Editor, which is not free ($40).

But if you need a free editor as well, try Zoner, Picasa, or Photoscape.

Here's an example of editing a photo using Sagelight Editor. I started out by auto-balancing the entire picture, but Whitney's hair and face were totally washed out by the sun, so I also toned down the reflection in her hair using the "dodge and burn" function, and added some extra color saturation to her face using the "masking" function.

Just in case you're curious to know which photo manager I use, my favorite is Zoner, but I also regularly use FastStone, depending on what I'm doing with a photo.  Photoscape is great for creative photo projects.  Picasa and Pictomio are very good, but Picasa sometimes irritates me with its constantly "moving" interface, and Pictomio just doesn't offer all that I am personally looking for.  I prefer viewing and working with photos on a dark background (which is why my blog has a dark background!) because it makes the colors stand out and is actually easier on the eyes.  From the five I listed, Zoner, FastStone, and Pictomio are the only ones that have that capability as of this writing.  Many people swear by Picasa, and most websites give it the highest rating of any free photo manager, so you may love it.  Pictomio is just cool, and fun to use.  As you can see, they all differ, and so it's really a matter of personal preference and needs.  If you're looking for a photo manager, give one or all of these a try.  Let me know which one you like!  Or if you find a better one, let me know what it is... I'll want to check it out :)

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