Trammell from Fort Worth, Texas writes:

I sell Ladies Handbags & Watches. The problem is getting great photos every time. I am over 70 and would like to know if you have some software that is easy to use & learn that I can buy and download to help me enhance the photos. I have Fuji 16 MP with 40x optical zoom. I am still learning the camera, my old one was a lot easier to use, but it has been sold. My wife wanted this one, but I need some help making the pictures truly awesome, without buying an expensive Adobe.

Trammel, this is a common dilemma. Lots of people want the power and flexibility of Photoshop, but they want it in an easy to use package that doesn’t cost the earth. With that in mind, here are a few of the best alternatives to Photoshop for photographers on a budget.

Paintshop Pro X6 (Windows) – With a street price of around $50 (or less), it’s hard to ignore Corel’s Paintshop Pro. It can’t quite match the feature set of a tool like Adobe Photoshop, but most of the time you won’t need it to. It is simple to navigate, has a built-in photo organizer, and has a great help menu that includes video tutorials to walk you through a number of the program’s key functions. It supports all the major file formats, including RAW, and has any number of special effects designed to automatically optimize your photos for you. Try it free for 30 days via the Corel website.

PaintShop Pro

Paint.net (Windows) – If $50 is too much to spend, how does free sound? Pretty good, right?! Paint.net is a free download for Windows PCs. It was developed to give photographers free and easy access to the basic tools you need for photo editing tasks. If you are used to Microsoft Office and other Microsoft products, then you will instantly be at home with the familiar user interface. It works well whether you have a low powered netbook or a high powered desktop, and even includes some advanced functionality like layers, blur tools and sharpening. There is also a vibrant online community that often submit tutorials for users of all skill levels. Check it out at http://getpaint.net.

paint.net

Pixelmator (Mac) – Mac users in the know will often steer you towards Pixelmator over the higher priced Adobe Photoshop. Why? Because it has steadily grown and improved over the years to the extent that it is now a very real alternative, at a fraction of the price. It is designed and optimized to run flawlessly on a Mac, and is packed full of powerful photo editing features that are equal to a lot of what you would find in more expensive Adobe products. Best of all, it is only $15, but it is only for Macs. Find out more at http://pixelmator.com.

Pixelmator for Mac vs Photoshop

We will discuss more Photoshop alternatives in Part 2.

~ Jonathan Wylie