COMPARING Free VS Paid Image Manipulation Programs

Today I'm comparing the following photo manipulation image apps: ACDSee vs FastStone vs PhotoScape vs LightRoom.

We're all looking for for a decent image app that does not cost us an arm and a leg or even a monthly fee that adds up to a lot more per year than if you were to buy an app. (Food for thought Adobe fans). With that in mind, I have been using an older version of Lightroom but at times, In past times I've been known to use ACDSee and PhotoScape. But recently I found myself an app called FastStone Image Viewer! OMG, what awesomeness. FREE awesomeness.

Admittedly Lightroom is the workhorse of the bunch, hands down. But sometimes you don't need an app that has to update an online database somewhere to start working on an image. And sometimes you don't need an app that takes forever to build or add to their image database when you add several hundred images to a directory.

Those two little requirements of mine move Lightroom and ACDSee down my list a notch or two because that's wht happens when you add a ton of pics to a directory. ACDSee and Lightroom compiles their image database for future ease of navigation, but that time spent loading up the image database can SUCK!

That leaves me with with PhotoScape and FastStone. Both free photo images.  And yes, I'm aware of GIMP, but GIMP is like a FREE full-featured image editor and I'm not talking about full featured apps, but quickie apps that can get some basic stuff done.

Back on track:

So even though PhotoScape can be pretty handy and quick to use, it still has flaws. As in, good luck if you want to manipulate images within a directory like copying around from one location to the next.

After all is said and done, I'm left with the surprisingly fun, fast and fairly useful FastStone!



Application Start Up

Lightroom loses this battle hands down because it has a lot to load and then it depends on your internet connection while it talks to its master back at "home," the Adobe servers,  before kicking it in gear.
While Lightroom is coming up to speed, both PhotoScape and FastStone have quick start up times. ACDSee depends... but I've found myself waiting on it way too long at times.

FS: 1; PS: 1; AC: 0; LR: 0


Adding New Images To Database Upon Startup

When you start up an app, if there are new images in the folder you are looking at, an application will usually automatically add the images to its database. Lightroom has you manually adding new images to its library in a convoluted but mostly simple process. ACDSee will do it automatically upon start up or when you navigate to a new folder with new images. PhotoScape and FastStone just light up and act as if the new images were always there.

Here's the snag. If you've spend the day taking a thousand pics and add them to a folder, this bogs down the start up of Lightroom and ACDSee, in a huge way.

FS: 2; PS: 2;  AC: 0; LR: 0

So far this gives FastStone (FS) and PhotoScape (PS) 2 points over the other two apps.


Navigating Within The App and the Directory

This seems simple enough, but with PhotoScape in the picture, this becomes a factor. You can only delete images in a folder in PhotoScape. You must also, always refresh the view in a directory if you add images to the location. In Lightroom you can delete things and you also have to refresh the library if you add images to the location you are working in. But if you modify an image and "save as" in LR, it will show up in the library automatically.

ACDSee and FastStone can work with files in the folders you are in, as if you are in a file manager. Intant updates.

FS: 4; PS: 2; AC: 2; LR: 1.


PNG Files

I've never had success with PNG images in ACDSee. The file loses it's original attributes. I just discovered that FastStone can manipulate PNG files without distorting file attributes. Meaning if I created an image that has transparent features, FastStone does not lose them when you muck with the file.

ACDSee did not do that for me when I was conducting these tests. It converts the transparent section to a solid color.

Lightroom preserves the attributes and I've seen that PhotoScape does too.

FS: 5; PS: 3; AC: 2; LR: 2.


I could keep going but here's how I am feeling about the different apps:

Lightroom is the way to go with some serious processing power, but that's no surprise. Right? But you need bucks for it. And now-a-days, with this subscription model crap that has you paying much more over a year's worth of time than you would have when buying the product off a shelf.

I'm not fond of that rip-off premise.


I adopted ACDSee many years ago, back when it was shareware. Yes. That long ago. But each version, on whatever machine I've used it on, has always had some kind of annoying glitch. Each time around, they were always quick to respond to my issues, but they also always had the same thing to say. I'm not faulting them. Just saying.

In recent times the software has become a bit of a dog as far as responsiveness goes as I build up my image library so I had to move on.

I had stated checking out PhotoScape. It's an excellent app for some quick and easy file manipulation. But the basics of the app, though powerful, is just that, basic.

I used PhotoScape for quite some time before looking around to see if there was something else that might be like PhotoScape, but better.

I found it in FastStone's set of apps.  Wow.

As far as I am concerned, this "free for non-commerical use" application could almost be considered to be a mini-me of Lightroom, but without the monthly stipend or need to connect to their servers.

FastStone has different module apps, one to manipulate the images, another to do mass file manipulations like renaming or resizing.

The primary app is plenty good and worth while, so yea, FastStone is an awesome image manipulation application for your desk or laptop system.

Boo ya!

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