Nov 24, 2004

Top 10 Gifts for the Digital Darkroom

From Sue Chastain

With digital cameras getting cheaper and better all the the time, more and more folks are turning to digital imaging. Whether you work with scanned photos or a digicam, any of these gift selections would be a great asset to your digital darkroom. There's something here for most any budget.

1) Adobe Photoshop CS (Windows and Macintosh)

For the ultimate in graphics power and flexibility, Photoshop is the one. With features like layer masks, adjustment layers, the history brush, and layer effects, users can perform virtually any kind of image adjustment or correction without ever permanently altering a single pixel in the source image. Automation features allow you to perform similar corrections on a series of images in a snap. Photoshop CS offers a number of enhancements, particularly for digital photographers.

2) Jasc Paint Shop Pro 9 (Windows)

Paint Shop Pro has frequently been lauded as the affordable Photoshop alternative, but in the past I never felt that it measured up. A lot has changed in this latest version, and now Paint Shop Pro feels "all grown up." The workspace has been streamlined and updated; there are new tools and effects, productivity enhancements, and personalization options.

3) Adobe Photoshop Elements 3 (Windows and Macintosh)

If Photoshop's price is out of reach and you want an easier learning curve than Paint Shop Pro, look to Photoshop Elements. It incorporates many of Photoshop's powerful features and interface elements without being too overwhelming to the novice user. Automated features simplify many tasks such as posting online Web photo galleries and stitching multiple photos to create panoramas. With photo organizing and sharing features in the newest version, it's an excellent all-in-one photo solution.

4) Wacom Graphire3 Graphics Tablet (Windows and Macintosh)

Because it's more natural feeling and ergonomic, a graphics tablet is more comfortable to work with than a mouse--particularly for the precise movements required for image correction, selecting, and retouching. Graphire3's 4 x 5 inch active surface is ideal for the digital retoucher who doesn't need the wide sweeping motions required for digital art work. Includes a cordless mouse for other tasks.

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