Here is an article I published on my website about free photo editing software for those on a budget. I hope it'll be useful to some of you in this forum.

Top 5 Free Photo Editors for Windows
by Gary Hendricks

If youíre really on a budget, you will be glad to know that there are many free photo editors out there ready for your download. These programs give you basic image editing features to perform standard photo enhancement tasks. Iíve compiled a list of 5 free photo editing programs for Windows which you may like to look at. Do take note, however, that some of these programs may be limited in features unless you buy an upgrade version.

The GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is an open-source program originally developed by two university students in 1996. It has now morphed into a powerful image editor with a huge user base. The latest version, the GIMP 2.0, has a revamped user interface that places it up threw with mainstream image editors.

Picasa is a powerful and free software that helps you instantly find, edit and share all the pictures on your PC. If you always had problems keeping track of your pictures, Picasa will help you do that by sorting them into visual albums. Moreover, if you want to quickly touch up your photos, Picasa offers many one-click fixes to do just that. Whatís more, the program allows you to easily share those photos through email, printing or CDs.

VCW VicMan's Photo Editor
VCW VicMan's Photo Editor has a host of features similar to Adobe Photoshop. With this program, you can easily zoom into and pan within your image and perform standard image editing. The color adjustment options are also very extensive. The program comes in a limited free version, as well as a commercial Pro version which sells for $30.

ImageForge is a freeware image editor gives you a great set of tools for painting and editing images and photos. Whether you want to touch up your photo shots, or add a creative effect to a boring photo, ImageForge can provide you with the tools to do it. You can even share your photos easily by creating photo albums and simple slide shows.

Paint.NET is an on-going project at Washington State University, with features that match commercial applications, including support for layers. It is provided as freeware and is readily available for download. Besides standard image editing features, thereís also a special Effects API for you to create your own special effects. The program also has a strong user forum that supports its progress and development.

I hope you'll learnt a thing or two about the best free photo editors for Windows. Using a free photo editor is a great way to save money, while satisfying all your photo manipulation needs. However, I do advise that for serious, long-term photo editing tasks, go for commercial grade software such as Ulead PhotoImpact 10 and Jasc Paint Shop Pro 9.