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July 4, 2008

Picnik – A Smorgasbord of Photo (Editing) Ops

ss-picnik

If you’re not a professional in the design or photography field it can be hard to justify purchasing professional image editing applications such as Adobe Photoshop. Beyond the sticker shock, most of these programs are complex and have a steep learning curve. Here’s where Picnik, a completely web-based photo editing tool, can give you a helping hand. Picnik offers plenty of features for no cost and requires no special software on your computer.

Each editing filter can be previewed with a simple click, along with its individual options, including detail and fade. My personal favorite is the “add snow” option. Not all of the fantastic tools are available to non-paid users, such as fine-tuning color balance, but the service is still very useful. The “Picnik Premium” option runs around $25 per year, which promises access to all editing tools, eliminates advertising,and access to premium support.

The application overall is fairly quick, has a lot of options to rival software-based programs, and has minimal advertising with no pop-ups.

Practical Uses:

  • Simple layout, tabs provide simple “start-to-finish” format.
  • Online-based program, no HD space used, no downloading
  • Free (or cheap yearly upgrade to premium)
  • Wide variety of editing tools, filters and add-ins

Insider Tips:

  • Play around with the demo pictures to see what’s on offer
  • Make use of the active forums if you run into any difficulties
  • The application is very bandwidth-heavy, so don’t have too many browser window programs open, or play World of Warcraft at the same time

What We Liked:

  • Fast registration (no need to confirm email address)
  • Lots of fun filters that are easily previewed
  • A variety of save/export options
  • Picnik provides an option to import photos from your own online profiles such as Flickr & MySpace.

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Slow on the “Save & Share” option (our browser crashed twice)
  • Bandwidth-heavy (broadband Internet connection is strongly recommended)

Alternatives:

Costs:

  • Free for most users
  • Premium accounts run $24.95 per year (ad-free version; all tools unlocked; premium support; preview new features)