Photo-editing software spans the gamut from basic programs that include cropping and simple corrections to sophisticated products that can manipulate photos in countless ways. Similarly, pricing runs from free to several hundreds of dollars. Surprisingly, cost isn't always a good barometer of either power or usability.
If your photo-editing aspirations are modest -- no more than some occasional brightening or cropping -- there are many free and low-cost programs available. Additionally, most digital cameras include some type of image-manipulation software. For many, that's all that's needed.
Professionals and serious hobbyists, however, will want to invest in powerful photo-editing software. In addition to basic photo corrections, professional-level software can move objects within a photo, correct white balance, edit videos and merge several photos together. In selecting a photo-editing program, don't forget that most top-rated software is available as a free download for a trial period, and experts recommend doing just that before committing to buying it. Though reviews can assess a program's speed, tools and general ease of use, different minds work in different ways. A program someone else says is easy to use may baffle you, while you might find a photo-editing program quite intuitive though others say it's a challenge to use. Several free photo-editing and management programs are also available, and some integrate especially well with the web.