JUST ABOUT ANYONE WITH A SMARTPHONE CAN CAPTURE HIGH-QUALITY IMAGES AND EVEN 4K
VIDEO, SO BEING ABLE TO EDIT THEM IS VERY IMPORTANT. HERE ARE A FEW WAYS TO DO JUST THAT.
[ LINDSAY HANDMER ]
WHILE THERE ARE plenty of simple options, higher-end editing software such as Photoshop is expensive to buy, or increasingly moving to an ongoing ‘rental’ business model. Of course, there are loads of free alternatives, but it’s hard to find the gems among the feature-limited, adware-riddled editors. To help out, we’ve put together a guide to some of our favorite free editors, and noted the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Image Editing For those just wanting to spruce up some holidays snaps, a simple yet easy-to-use image editor is best. Of course, there are also much more in-depth options available — albeit with much steeper learning curves. If in doubt, all the programs below have a huge range of guides available. For those wanting a very basic but simple and free image editor, check out Irfanview (irfanview.com).
Totally free (though support donations are welcomed), Paint.net is a simple, yet still fairly powerful image editor. It’s a great choice for beginners, with a very intuitive layout and extensive support via the online community.
The program is well featured, including layers and special effects. Paint.net is Windows only, but automatically receives ongoing updates.
Handily, it’s a small 7MB download, and is well optmised for older hardware.
Gimp (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is totally free and open source. It’s not the easiest option for newbies due to a somewhat complex (if Photoshop-like) interface, but it offers a huge range of features. It’s also cross platform, running on Windows, OS X and Linux. Gimp includes a range of excellent tutorials, and a strong community, though it does tend towards more technical users.
PIXLR EDITOR www.pixlr.com
For those who want to dive right in without any downloads, Pixlr is an online, browserbased editing suite. It does require flash, but also has an Android and iOS version available. Pixlr is quite well featured, with layers, familiar editing tools, filters, effects and more. The Pixlr community and tutorials are a little limited, but it’s still a good choice for basic editing.
While a few of the above programs offer mobile versions, there are also a range of excellent video and image editing apps available. One of our favorite image editing apps available for both Android and iOS is Snapseed (goo.gl/nMU5i). Provided by Google, the app is totally free and comes with a huge number of tools and filters to fine tune your photos. Another excellent (and free) editing app is PicsArt (picsart.com), with a very easy-to-use interface, and with both Android and iOS availability. For a sometimes fiddly but otherwise excellent option, Adobe Photoshop Express (adobe.com) is free on Android and iOS.
For editing video, iOS will be hard pressed to find an app that’s easier to use than iMovie (apple.
com/au/imovie). GoPro’s video editor, Splice (splice.gopro.com), is also solid, but there is no Android version. For a no fuss, but still comprehensive app, we recommend Videoshop — Video Editor (videoshop.net) on Android, as well as iOS and Windows Phone. It’s free without restrictions, though has various paid upgrades for extra functionality.
GOOGLE NIK www.google.com/nikcollection
Originally a paid suite of photo editing tools, Google has now made the Nik collection totally free. It’s not a traditional photo editing program, as the collection consists of tools and plugins for other paid software, such as Adobe Photoshop. That said, there is a somewhat convoluted method to run them as standalone tools. Check online for more in-depth guides, by dragging and dropping an image file onto the plugin EXE will open it.
Video For super basic video editing, free options such as iMovie for Mac, and Windows Movie Maker can get the job done (though the latter needs to be downloaded separately for Windows 10). Even YouTube has some very basic video editing options built in. But for more in-depth video creations, the below programs offer a wealth of features for free.
Free for non-commercial use, VideoPad is an intuitive yet powerful video editing suite aimed at beginners, through to intermediate users. VideoPad uses a drag and drop interface, so with a little practice, videos can be created quite quickly. It also includes quite in-depth audio editing, as well as a range of effects. VideoPad is available on Windows, OS X, Android and iOS.
Used on big-name movie productions, Lightworks has free and paid Pro versions.
The free version is extremely well featured, and a great choice for those who want a professional level result. There are also loads of helpful guides available and a solid community. The downside is that the free version unfortunately restricts video exports to direct uploads to YouTube and Vimeo only.
HITFILM EXPRESS www.hitfilm.com/express
For aspiring movie makers, HitFilm Express is a free editing and VFX software suite that enables some pretty impressive creations.
The core functionality is free, with paid ad-ons available, depending on the need. While some of the other editing options have better features, the focus on visual effects can be very useful. HitFilm Express is available on Windows and Mac.
VSDC VIDEO EDITOR www.videosoftdev.com
Available as both a free and pro version, VSDC Video Editor is a great choice for beginners, who want to be able to transition to more advanced editing over time.
While getting the most out of the editor takes practice, it’s got an excellent feature set, and good support. One downside is that VSDC is Windows only.