Editor’s note: I will update this post regularly with the latest versions of software as they are released.
The most frequent questions I get asked (after – of course – “Is this Shoppped?”) is “How can I learn Photoshop?” and “Where can I buy reasonably priced photo editing software?” I will discuss tutorials in a later post (update: here it is), but first let me give you a rundown of some of the various photo editing software available. There are many different pricing structures – even some that are available for free – so read on to decide which is best for you…
Photoshop CS5 (most current full version): This is the whole enchilada. The real rich, full, powerful (expensive) software that will make you look 10 lbs lighter, give you smooth, beautiful skin and make you look 21 again*. It is available in both PC and Mac versions, so don’t worry about your OS – Photoshop runs smoothly on both major platforms.
If you are a student, please check with your school to see how they handle their educational discounts, because both PC and Mac versions of Photoshop are available at a MUCH lower price for students. Educational discounts aren’t just for full-time students, either! I recommend enrolling in a Photoshop class via a college continuing education program and then inquiring how to obtain the software at a discounted rate – that way you’ll be getting the software cheaper AND learning how to use it!
If you are not interested in taking a class or spending megabucks on software you still have options. Photoshop Elements [available in PC and Mac] is what I like to call “Photoshop Lite” – you can still do some photo editing, but it is not as rich and powerful as the full version. It is perfect for people who are just looking to share photos with family & friends, but first want to fix red eye, crop, etc. There are also other photo editing software programs out there which are even cheaper such as Pixelmator and Corel Paint Shop Pro.
Other ways to save: Much like buying a car, when you buy software – whether it be the full version of Photoshop or a cheaper photo editing program – you can save money by buying an earlier version. As an example, Photoshop CS3 is still available via retail outlets and can be had for about $100 cheaper than the CS4 version. Just watch out if you are buying a used version – make sure the serial number is legit and can be transferred to you. As always, do your research and only buy from trusted, reputable retailers.
You get what you don’t pay for: Yep, you even have some great free options when it comes to photo editing software! One of most widely downloaded free photo editing programs (which has many of the same features as Photoshop) is Gimp (GNU Image Manipulation Program). There is also Paint.net (windows OS only) and Google’s Picasa. If you have a limited budget these free alternatives – while not as powerful as Photoshop – have quite a few image editing features and all have large user driven support communities behind them. It wouldn’t hurt you to try them out and see which one suits your needs best.
*In print and online only.