Free Photo Editing Tools for Digital SLR Camera Users

Decide what you want from your free photo editing tools.
The biggest problem with free photo editing tools is that they aren't likely to contain everything you want from digital photo editing, especially if you are own a digital SLR camera. You can find free photo editing tools with great advanced editing features, but no sharing or organizing abilities whatsoever. To get the most from your free photo editing tools, decide what you want from your digital photo editing programs and focus on a few features. In the end, you may decide you want one set of free photo editing tools for editing images, and another piece of software for sharing and organizing.

While Picasa's free photo editing tools aren't as comprehensive as some of the other free digital photo editing programs, Picasa does provide excellent photo sharing and organizational tools. A Google program, Picasa features a Retouch tool for editing that provides very basic abilities to fix blemishes and improve photo quality. However, Picasa's editing capabilities lack the full-featured range of adjustments found in some digital photo editing programs. Picasa shines when it comes to uploading and sharing photos via Picasa Web Albums, giving you the ability to easily share photos with friends and family with a minimum of fuss.

GIMP for Windows.
GIMP for Windows is one of the most comprehensive free photo editing tools, lauded by some as having all the features of Adobe Photoshop without the expensive price tag. GIMP offers enhanced customization, so that you can easily configure the free photo editing tools to display in a way that you prefer. GIMP gives you advanced photo editing capabilities, including the ability to adjust color and saturation, brightness, perspective and digital retouching. This suite of free photo editing tools is freeware and open source, meaning programmers voluntarily work to make updates and improvements. However, as a freeware and open source program, GIMP may not support all of the photo editing features you need or provide updates as frequently as paid digital photo editing programs.

Photo Plus 6.
PhotoPlus 6 is a free version of Serif's popular photo editing software suite. As a set of free photo editing tools, it provides basic functionality with the aim of enticing you to upgrade to the paid version. PhotoPlus 6 does give you the ability to edit color, hue, saturation and do retouching to enhance your digital images. However, this set of free photo editing tools lacks some of the functionality offered by its paid counterpart, such as improved layer management features, image extraction, masking and an effects gallery. For a basic set of free photo editing tools, Photo Plus 6 contains enough functionality for a light home user who's interested primarily in making photos fit for sharing with family and friends.

RAW Compatibility.
Depending on how you shoot, you might be using your digital SLR to take high quality photos in the RAW file format, rather than in the more common JPEG format. Not every free photo editing tool can deal with RAW images, but many of them can. Those that do handle RAW may only do so for certain camera manufacturers. Always check RAW compatibility before you get started.

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