Who Needs Photoshop?

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Trendwatch By Mark Raby

The online photo pioneer Flickr has announced a new suite of online image editing tools, powered by Picnik. With wifi camera cards now available, the Flickr Picnik editor theoretically makes it possible to go straight from your camera to a well polished image shared on Flickr all without ever involving desktop software.

Okay, the editing options in Picnik aren’t going to have anyone ditching Photoshop completely, but for basic edits like red eye reduction, exposure tweaks and cropping and rotating photos, the new editing options will likely do the trick.

To use the new features just login to your Flickr account and head to a photo you’d like to edit. Above each of your photos you’ll see a new “edit photo” icon, click that and once you’ve given Picnik permission to edit and save your photos, the Picnik editor will load. Depending on the size of your image it can take a little while to load the Picnik interface, but once it does the editor is quite snappy and intuitive to use.

Editing tools in Picnik include all the basic photo retouching options — crop, resize, adjust exposure and colors, apply effects, add text, and more. There’s also a set of clip art you can overlay and some custom borders. Most of the features are free though some of the special effects filters, like the very-popular-on-Flickr “Lomo effect,” will require a Picnik premium account ($25/year). Premium features are all clearly labeled as such in the Picnik interface.

Flickr’s core users take their photography seriously (or at least take themselves seriously) and while the Picnik editor is nice, it isn’t going to satisfy everyone. However, even if you’re a hardcore Photoshop snob, Picnik is still a handy way to touch up mobile phone images, which are often uploaded directly to Flickr — making online retouching a logical way to improve those images.

Many users may wonder why Flickr didn’t opt to wait for the somewhat more professionally geared Photoshop Express, which is a fair question. But given that even Express still probably won’t satisfy more demanding users, the reason seems obvious — the target demographic here is the casual Flickr user and for them Picnik’s drop dead simple interface more than fit the bill.

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