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CHOOSING SOFTWARE
BUYING GUIDE
Your choice of software for digital photography is
akin to your choice of camera: it should meet
your current and future needs without being too
costly or over-burdened with features that are
difficult for you to use. Professional software may
offer all the features you could ever need, but if you
find the learning curve of finding your way around
is too steep, you will not exploit all the features you
have paid for. On the other hand, you should not
feel constrained by cost either, for easily available
free or shareware software can perform all the tasks
a professional needs.
Multiple functions
A generation after the birth of digital photography,
software is now expected to do more than simply
manipulate the image. On top of image editing
functions many applications can also organize
images, add tags and other data, upload them to
social networking and picture-sharing sites, as well
as order printed books online. All of this means that
there can be lots to master with new software, and
one may long for the limitations of early software.
When you first install your software it is important
to remember that you will not harm anything by
trying every option and setting available. You will
learn to use the software most rapidly by trying out
all the features and options, checking their effects
and playing with every control and slider.
Create a folder of small images for learning.
Explore the menu options systematically: start
with the File, then Edit menus and so on.
Start learning the keyboard short-cuts: where
available, these are shown together with the pull-
down menu options.
Use the built-in and online support whenever
something does not work as you expect.
Multiple platforms
Software for digital photography is not limited to
personal computers: you can install applications for
smartphones and tablet devices that can manipulate
images, post the results on picture-sharing sites or
send them to other devices. Some, such as
Photoshop Express, are pared-down versions of
software packages, but others, such as Instagram
and Hipstamatic, closely integrate smartphone
features with picture effects and social networking.
Remember that sending images may use up your
online data quota quickly: if your contract sets
limits, exceeding them may be costly.
Direct or proxy
Photographers who produce large numbers of
images—a thousand or more a week—but do not
need extensive manipulations will find that image
management applications are their first priority.
There are two approaches. Simple image review and
CHECKLIST
When purchasing software, particularly the
professional applications with more advanced
feature sets, you should check the following:
Operating system required: If you do not have
the latest computer, check that your version of
the operating system will run the software. You
may need to download updates to your operating
system first.
Minimum RAM: Check how much RAM the
software needs to run efficiently. One advantage of
entry-level software is its modest demands for RAM.
Minimum video: Check the video requirements:
some software applications, such as Apple
Aperture, use the video card for some of the
image processing.
Minimum hard disk space: Check how much
hard disk space the software needs. In addition to
the space for the software itself, it will need space
to store temporary working files—the larger your
files, the greater the amount of space that will
beneeded.
Drive type: You may need a CD reader to install
files and some software is delivered on DVDs.
An internet connection may be needed to
download, unlock, or register software, and to
download updates or fixes.

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