Article by Kevin Savetz

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Copyright © by Kevin Savetz


In order to add pictures to your auctions, you'll need some kind of image manipulation software. But too often, working with graphics is an exercise in extremes. On one end of the spectrum is the software that came with your digital camera, scanner, or Webcam--software that might be buggy or lack even basic image manipulation functions. On the other side are high-end graphics applications such as Photoshop--perhaps too complicated and too expensive for those of us who just want to put decent pictures of our auction items online.

There is, however, a middle ground. Here's a roundup of several inexpensive but usable image manipulation programs.

For Windows

Paint Shop Pro is a full-featured classic. It has been around since the dawn of time (almost) but has kept pace. You can use it to import images directly from your digital camera or scanner, optimize them, and upload them to an image hosting service. The program is $99, and a free 30-day trial version is available.

Also, take a look at LView Pro, another tried-and-true graphics application. LView began life as a utility for viewing images, but has grown into a full-featured image editor. Its Web Gallery feature automatically will create a gallery of images that you can upload to entice bidders. The software costs $29.99, which includes a CD-ROM. The downloadable evaluation version allows you to test the software for 21 days.

You don't have to be a heavy metal music fan to appreciate ACDSee, a $49.99 shareware program. The best part of this app for auction sellers is the Photo Enhancer, which serves up image manipulation tools and filters for quickly improving the look of digital photos and scans. The program can import pictures directly from Kodak, HP, and Olympus digital cameras.

Then again, why pay for a cow when you can get the milk for free? IrfanView is a free graphics editor whose features (and price) have won much acclaim. Its robust image editing capabilities won't clog your hard drive with DLLs and random files, either--it's just one executable file. Did we mention that it's free? (For "noncommercial" use, anyway.)

If you use Windows 3.1, don't despair--there are graphics editors for you, too. There are 16-bit versions of Paint Shop Pro and LView.

For Macintosh

There are plenty of choices for Macintosh users, too.

CorelDRAW 8 Limited Edition is a free, stripped-down version of the popular commercial image manipulation software. Actually, the package includes both CorelDraw LE and Corel Photo-Paint LE. Despite its "limited" moniker, this program is more than powerful enough for those of us who don't spend all day working with graphics. Download the program from Corel's Web site: http://www.corel.com/draw8mac_le/product_info.htm.

The popular shareware program GraphicConverter is a must-have tool. Its batch functions can quickly tweak a folder full of images, for instance, by applying a sharpen filter, then converting them from TIFF to JPG format. The program is great for converting graphics you already have, but doesn't offer tools for creating new images. GraphicConverter is $30, with versions available for PowerPC and older 68K Macs, and in several languages. Get it from http://www.graphicconverter.net/.

You might think of Color-It! as Photoshop's little brother. It's rather powerful, but much easier to use. This $50 program will import images from your scanner or digital camera, then let you quickly crop, adjust, and finesse them to perfection. It offers filters, works with Photoshop plug-ins, and runs with as little as 3MB of free RAM.

If you use a digital camera, give Cameraid a try. This program imports images from your digital camera to your Mac, working in place of the software that came bundled with the camera. It claims to be up to twice as fast at downloading images, and lets you quickly rotate, name, and enhance your digital photos. The program, which works with several different brands of cameras, is $15 shareware. If you have a Sony Mavica digital camera, try Mavicadabra, a $24.95 shareware gem just for you.

Is the software that came with your scanner driving you crazy? Then check out ScanTastic. Compatible with many Epson, Apple, and Hewlett-Packard scanners, ScanTastic works as a standalone program or as a plug-in with other graphics applications. It costs $69, and you can download a free demonstration version.


Articles by Kevin Savetz