Ok, so if you didn't already know it I am a shutter bug. Everyone who is into photography knows that the big dog on the block is Photoshop CS3. Unfortunately if you don't get paid for your photography or get the "CEO's" approval for such an expenditure it is just way too expensive. So lately I have been looking at alternatives. This post will describe some of the plusses and minuses of a couple of editing packages.
So which applications did I look at: Paint.NET, Nikon Capture NX, Paint Shop Pro Photo X2, and Photoshop Elements.
Paint.NET has been my main editing tool for a while. I was able to use it with a decent workflow based on the shortcut keys. The other nice thing is that it has a .NET interface so that anyone can write effects. The main drawback is that it doesn't have as many features as other packages. In the future I suspect that it will probably have what I am looking for.
I have used Paint Shop Pro in the past. It has all the features I am looking for, but it isn't organized very well. Features such as curves don't have shortcut keys. I did find some cool ways of doing things like graduated filters.
The most future package I have been evaluating is Elements. It seems easy enough to learn. The only feature that is missing that Photo Shop has is HDR. It does how more support available than any other package.
In the end I think I will go with either Photo Shop or Elements. None of them are that expensive so I can always change later.
How could I forget to put in Nikon Capture. This was one of the first alternatives to Paint.NET that I tried out. The features are really good and it is organized in a logical way. Given that I shoot a Nikon camera it would be the logical choice. It is just about as slick as Elements if not more. It does allow the saving of actions and applying them in batch. I may purchase this package in the future.