LEARN: Buying Guides: Digital Photography Software Guide
All About Digital Photography Software
In This Guide
1. Photo Organization 2. Image-Editing 3. RAW Conversion 4. Color Management
Digital Photography Software Guide
by Photo-John

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So you just got a sweet new digital camera and you're wondering how to get the most from it? You've been taking pictures like crazy; e-mailing huge digital photos to all your friends, clogging up their in-boxes and filling up your hard drive with multiple copies of every image you've shot? Let me help. Of course, your camera came with some sort of do-it-all digital photography software. Generally, the included software is weak, offers few tools, and may even be buggy. Third-party photography software is almost always much better. It can help you manage, edit, and make your digital photos look better than you realized was possible. This digital photography software guide describes different types of photo software and tells you how they can improve your photos and make your life easier. And you don't even have to own a digital camera to benefit from digital photography software. Most of it is useful for all digitized images. So if you have a scanner or get photo CDs made with your prints, this guide will be useful for you, too.

Last but not least, I'll give you some software recommendations for each category. So if you just want to know what software to buy, you can scan each category and buy some software immediately.

Photography software can be divided into four basic categories:
Photo Organization
RAW Conversion
Color Management

There are lots of variations and software that crosses over between categories. There are also plenty of small, niche categories. But in order to keep things simple I'm going to stick to the four basic categories above.

1. Photo Organization Software
Soon after you got your digital camera (or started scanning photos), you probably started thinking about how you're going to organize and manage all your photos. Your computer's hard drive can quickly become a mess and important photos almost impossible to find. There are lots of software options to help you organize your digital images, from your computer's built-in file system to very expensive and powerful database packages. If you want to be able to find your digital images in five years, you need to get systematic about how you handle them. Software can help.

Photo organization software, usually called "image management" or browser software, helps you download, categorize, view, and otherwise organize digital photos. Most allow the photographer to add keywords and search by multiple criteria like file type, date created, camera, or keywords. The most sophisticated image management software creates a database with thumbnails that can track images archived on separate hard drives, CDs, DVDs, or anywhere else. Most image management software also includes simple image editing features like resizing, cropping, and color correction.

Google's Picasa - Free!
Extensis Portfolio - $200
ACDSee - $50

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