BOOT CAMP 476 (15/0/07)
Freeware Top Tens. Part 2, Images and
Moving swiftly on, our theme this week is free
photo editing, viewing, file management and recovery software. Most digital
cameras come with a suite of programs but they tend to be ‘lite’ versions with
limited functionality, or tied to a particular make or model of camera.
Freeware can fill in the gaps, from useful tools and utilities, right up to
advanced editing applications and some of the programs we’ll be looking at are
even better than their commercial counterparts.
As usual, before we start a few words of
caution. Be careful when visiting Internet download sites, double check the
address, watch where you click and always read the EULA before you install any
new software (see also this week’s Top Tip). All of the programs featured are
one hundred percent free and as far as possible have been checked for malware
content but you download them entirely at your own risk and we cannot help with
technical queries. If you find a program useful and want to keep on using it
please send the author a donation or pay the licence fee.
is a foolproof way to create stunning panoramic photos from a sequence of
overlapping pictures. Simply stand in one spot and snap away, turning a few
degrees each time. It doesn’t matter if the images are not in sequence, the
program works that out for you, seamlessly matching and blending the images
into one long photograph. It is
incredibly easy to use and the finished picture opens in your preferred image
editing or viewing program, so you can save it or print it out.
Digital Photo Recovery, www.artplus.hr/adapps/eng/dpr.htm
Sooner or later one or more pictures on your digital camera’s memory
card will become corrupted. This small program can recover damaged and deleted
image files, even after the card has been formatted.
you want to create a graphic from scratch or manipulate a photograph, the Gimp
can do it. The only proviso is that the Gimp is an advanced program with a
steep learning curve and not for absolute beginners. However, it is well worth
getting to know, there’s a full set of painting tools, sub-pixel sampling,
gradient editor, custom brushes and patterns, full alpha channel support,
layers and channels, multiple undo, text layers, support for all common file
formats and more than 100 plug-ins available, and if that little lot meant
nothing to you, it’s probably wise to start with something a little simpler…
Image Brander, www.photo-freeware.net/image-brander.php
you want to protect or label your photographs this little utility lets you add
a custom watermark, copyright symbol, logo or custom stamp to the image, either
singly or in batches.
Irfanview is an
image file viewer, with hidden talents. It can display more than 80 different
file formats, and convert images singly, and in batches, from one format to
another. It also supports most popular video file formats and animated gifs.
There’s a fair selection of editing tools, a slideshow feature and lots of
effects to play around with as an added bonus it can often display corrupted picture
files that other viewers refuse to open.
Back to basics with a beefed up version of the Paint
program included with Windows. It’s ideal for simple touch-up and editing jobs
and perfect for beginners.
If you own a
digital camera you need Picasa! It goes from strength to strength and the
latest version could be the only image editing and viewing program you will
ever need. The feature list is far too long to print here but if you want to
keep track of the pictures on your PC, clean them up, remove red-eye, crop,
apply effects, print, copy to CD, display as a slideshow or email and upload to
the web Picasa is for you.
been compared to PhotoShop and whilst it isn’t quite as sophisticated as its
commercial cousin it is one of the best-specified imaging editing programs
around. For advanced users it has a Layer Manager, there’s a comprehensive set
of painting tools and it supports PhotoShop plug-ins. Other highlights include
screen capture, gif animation, photo framing, a directory browser, batch
resize, rotate and slide show.
At first glance it doesn’t look significantly
different from other image editors but it’s the well-thought out layout that
really sets this program apart. Contrast, brightness and colour controls are
all instantly accessible, and you can undo limitless changes. The Gamma
Correction utility can transform images that are too light or dark. Incredibly
easy to use and ideal for beginners and experts alike.
ScreenHunter Free, www.wisdom-soft.com/products/screenhunter_free.htm
One of the simplest and quickest ways to capture an
image from your PC screen. With a single click you can grab the whole screen,
part of it, or set it to capture the screen after a preset delay.
Next Week – More Freeware and Shareware Top Tens
to specify transparency in pixels, allowing images and backgrounds to be
layered and blended
image file (Graphics Interchange Format) extensively used on web pages;
multiple gifs replayed several times a second, are widely used to create simple
User Licence Agreement -- the lengthy document that no one reads, which appears
when you install a software application and you have to agree to before the
installation will proceed
TIP OF THE WEEK
Most programs downloaded
from the web are in the form of ‘.exe’ files and all you have to do is
double-click on the download and the installation is carried out automatically.
Larger programs may be compressed into ‘zip’ files. Windows XP has a built-in
decompression utility and when you double click on the zip you will be asked if
you want to ‘Extract’ it. Follow the prompts to unzip the file to a location of
your choice (or use the default – usually the desktop) then click on the
extracted ‘.exe’ file to install the program in the normal way.
© R. Maybury 2007, 0905