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Free picture editing program

edited May 2017 Posted in » Nikon D3200 Forum
Hi there,

Can anyone recommend a good (free) picture editing program? I am an absolute beginner to photography. I have the D3200 with the standard 18-55mm lens, 55-300mm lens, and now the 50mm 1.8D lens. A family friend has asked if I would take pictures of their toddler. I have been practicing quite a bit, but I want to have the option to edit photos where they still look clean, and not so grainy. I also like to add effects to them.

Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. =)


  • edited May 2017
    As a first step, you should consider shooting in Raw mode, and using one of the free Nikon programs, either the View NX2 that came with the camera when it was new, or the newer Capture NX-D. If you shoot Raw, you can adjust exposure, white balance, color type, etc. with no penalty, and revert with no loss of quality if you need to. If you shoot in JPG, every change you make remains in the image, and every subsequent operation can add more compression. So if you are processing a JPG, make sure you save a copy of the original before editing it, so you have something to revert to if it goes wrong.

    For basic editing one of the nicest free programs I've come across is Faststone Image Viewer. You can read a Raw file with this, edit and alter it, and save it as a JPG, leaving the raw original untouched. It includes some good abilities for color correction, sharpening, noise reduction, etc. I use this regularly for basic cleaning up and resizing shots for internet use.

    Faststone can take a little time to get used to, as it works in two different screen modes, but it's pretty useful, and one thing it does better than any other program I've found is to establish a vertical shot as vertical in all subsequent displays. If you have problems with vertical shots displaying on their side in some display programs, turn them right in Faststone and they will stay right.

    For very basic size and file type editing and for viewing as well, a good program is Irfanview. This has very little capability to edit, and what it does have is pretty basic, but it is very fast and very good at bulk processing, resizing and changing file types. It also can use standard Photoshop plugins, which can be handy if you are seeking some filters and other features which are not available in Faststone. The internet is full of free plugins, some of which are quite capable.

    If you want a free program that rivals Photoshop for versatility, the open source program Gimp is very powerful, but it is also complicated and hard to master, and more than one needs for most purposes.
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