Monday, May 7, 2007
10 Top Imaging Applications
Our favorite software for photographers, from beginners to pros
ACD Systems ACDSee Pro
What started primarily as a photo organization and management application has grown into a powerful editor, too, with excellent nondestructive RAW file processing, image comparison and enhancement tools, and all of the fast viewing and organization features for which ACDSee is well known.
You'll find Curves and Levels, color controls, independent shadow and highlight adjustments, and a new Photo Repair tool with both cloning and healing modes to fix random noise, blemishes or dust. In healing mode, the software removes blemishes while analyzing local pixels to maintain the surrounding color, luminance and texture.
The latest version also features a new noise-reduction mode, which identifies noise pixels and adjusts their values based on neighboring pixels, making it particularly well-suited for removing noise caused by shooting digital cameras at higher ISO equivalents or during long exposures. You'll also find lens correction tools to remove the perspective distortions caused when you shoot with wide-angle lenses.
In addition to photo-editing tools, ACDSee Pro also offers sharing features, like the ability to create Flash or PDF slideshows, complete with transitions and playback controls. Plus, you can create HTML galleries to post to your Website. Windows only. List Price: $129.
Ulead PhotoImpact 12
This is another terrific application for beginning and intermediate digital photographers, with room to grow along with you. PhotoImpact 12 puts a lot of emphasis on automatic enhancements to get you going quickly, but adds features to help you learn to take more control with manual adjustments as you learn.
For example, new in version 12 is the ExpressFix mode, designed for photographers who are new to digital imaging software. This mode offers automatic enhancements with simplified choices, allowing you to get good results without a deep understanding of what's going on behind the scenes. Also new is the SmartGuide, which gives you step-by-step instructions for basic and advanced editing techniques as you work on an image. Following the SmartGuide's links takes you directly to the tools you need to accomplish a specific task, so you can learn hands-on.
There's good stuff here for more advanced photographers, too. PhotoImpact 12 supports RAW files and 16-bit color, and offers High Dynamic Range (HDR) capability like that found in some pro applications, allowing you to combine bracketed exposures to extend an image's dynamic range. For precise exposure and color correction, you'll find Curves and Levels controls, lens distortion correction and a sharpening tool that incorporates noise reduction to help reduce the negative side effects that sharpening can cause.
In addition to photo correction, Ulead PhotoImpact 12 also offers tools to build a decent Website with your photos, complete with templates to get you started. And there's a lot more in this Windows-only application. List Price: $89.
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