PHOTOSCAPE : One of the best free photo editors.

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photoscape_imagePhotoscape is more than just an ordinary photo editor and viewer, and this becomes evident when you look at the main section of the UI. Thirteen functions are arranged in a circle around Photoscape’s logo, with nine static tabs on the top-left corner, allowing you to access or switch to important functions. The functions include Viewer, Editor, Batch Editor, Page, Combine, Animated GIF, Print, Splitter, Screen Capture, Color Picker, Raw Converter, Rename and Paper Print. Let’s start with what this program is best at—editing. The Editor comprises a Windows Explorer-style file browser on the left and a control panel at the bottom where all the action lies. The control panel has a minimal design with four tabs, each with a limited but useful set of tools. The Home tab has over 100 frames that you can apply with a click. Some are simple and textured borders, while others are fancy patterns and masks.

The next stack has hotkeys for sepia, black-and-white, threshold, and negative, and apply the effects to the entire photo. Next come eight drop-down lists. Of these, Auto Level, Auto Contrast, Sharpen, Bloom and Backlight have varying intensities that you can select from the list, which is very handy when you want to autocorrect the colour tone, contrast and backlight without much hassle. The Filter section has a raft of filters with which you can add a creative touch to your photos. The Object tab lets you insert elements such as icons, speech balloons, text boxes, symbols, and shapes over photos. You can choose the type of speech bubble, flip/rotate it, set the opacity and customise the font. The Icons tab brings up a dialogue box containing hundreds of icons with transparent backgrounds. You can place these on your photo and then resize or rotate them as per your preference. The Tools tab has tools for red eye correction, mole removal, Clone Stamp and paint brush. The other modules aren’t as detailed as the Editor. Here are some of the most useful ones:

Viewer: You have the browser on the left to navigate to folders, and the thumbnails of images are displayed on the right side. Double-clicking on images opens them in full-screen view, along with basic info such as aperture, shutter speed, ISO, EV, focal length and file name.

Batch Editor: This feature comes in handy when you want to process several photos in one go. You have to add the photos to the batch queue using the browser, or by dragging and dropping photos into the UI. Once you’ve done that, you can choose to add frames, rotate, resize, add objects, and apply filters to all the photos. The filters include basic enhancements such as contrast, sharpen, brighten, decolour, bloom, and vignetting.

Page: This section has over a hundred different page layouts to create collages and print multiple photos in a page. Again, you can add frames and effects to individual photos.

Combine: This feature lets you stack photos vertically, place them horizontally next to each other or place them in checkerboard style, in a single image.

Print: This module makes printing 4×6, 5×7, passport size photos or custom size photos a breeze. It’s also possible to print indexes with multiple photos on a page, and it lets you set the number of rows and columns.

Splitter: This function splits an image into the specified number of rows and columns, and saves the segments as individual photos. The main use of this feature is printing large photos.

Rename: This tool is again a batch utility for renaming photos using syntaxes like file number, date, and combinations of file name, number, date and time. There are fields for adding leading and trailing characters and separators such as hyphens, commas, en-dashes and whitespaces.

Paper print: This function has nothing to do with photos. You can print various kinds of pages such as pages with lines and margin, squares, yearly, monthly and weekly calendar, and paper for music notations. Depending on the paper type you select, you can choose the colour and thickness of lines.

VERDICT

PhotoScape would have been awesome even if it offered only the editor, batch editor and viewer modules. While some tools like Color picker, Paper print, Screen capture and Combine are the icing on the cake, others like Page, Animated GIF, RAW converter and Rename are nice to have. The forte of this application is enhancing photos, which goes without saying. If used selectively, the filters, frames and optimisations yield very impressive results. At times, you have to use multiple filters and frames to get something that looks very cool or bizarre, if that’s what you want. If you’re looking for a freeware to give your photos a facelift, then you should certainly give this one a shot.

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