Adobe Photoshop Elements
This is the little brother of Adobe Photoshop.
Photoshop holds such a dominant place in the pro market for photo editing and has held that position for such a long time that it has now entered the language as a verb. “That picture has been photoshopped!”
We think directing the beginner photographer to Adobe Photoshop as a viable choice for image editing software is a bit of an overkill!
However Adobe offer a simplified version of Photoshop called Photoshop Elements and it is currently at version 9. Photoshop Elements 9 offers the photographer just about any feature you are likely to need or use and to be honest, if you do need more then you need to take better photos or move up to Photoshop!
It is easily the most advanced of the software we recommend and has the additional advantage of placing you on the upgrade runway to the full version of Photoshop should you decide in the future to approach your photography at a professional level.
It is easy to move around in and use, has wizard based guided editing systems for the beginner and gives you access to Adobe Express for online storage. There are lots of great auto cleaning, blemish removal and scene merging functions as well.
This new version of Photoshop Elements has been totally re-worked along with it’s video editing equivalent, Premiere Elements 9 to seamlessly work together.
Premier Elements 9 is their consumer video editing software and would definitely come in handy if you foresee incorporating images into some video or creating video slide shows.
The two are usually offered at a steep discount when bundled together.
You can read a full review here of Adobe Premiere Elements.
Corel Paint Shop Pro
At a slightly lower price point Corel Paint Shop Pro has long been an alternative to the Adobe product range especially for those who place no importance on bragging rights afforded by owning the latest edition of Photoshop!
Paint Shop Pro X3 pretty well matches Photoshop Elements 9 feature for feature and extends it functionality over into the area of graphic design as well.
Although it is no Photoshop it does offer greater flexibility to the amateur photographer who wants to apply more artistic effects to images.
It has has a very comprehensive help system and given the wider range of graphic features and the image editing features there is a lot to learn before you can fully utilize its full power.
Corel also usually offer a discounted package for Paint Shop Pro when combined with their video editing software Corel VideoStudio Pro. You can see a review here of VideoStudio Pro.