Helicon Filter is a free and very comprehensive, and we mean comprehensive, photo editing program. The current version is shareware, but the Ukranian developers have also released their earlier version as freeware, which is a nice touch.
This is not a quick pick up and use program, you will need to spend some time experimenting in order to get the best out of it. I particularly like the sensitivity of things like the ‘equalizer’ and the super flexible brushes on offer, there’s a depth of functionality here I’ve not seen in other image editors apart from Photoshop.
The interface does require a bit of patience, as the different functions don’t always follow a logical pattern, but once you get over the learning curve, everything you need is pretty close at hand. The program also supports plugins and pre-set scripts which you can use for common tasks. All in all this is a great program, and it’s immediately going onto my permanent task bar for when I need some extra oomph in my image editing.
Helicon Filter is a complete photo editing solution for the digital photographer. Its easy and intuitive interface, live preview feature, and contextual help ensure an easy start in photo editing for beginners. The program is built as step by step workflow guiding you through all post processing stages of photo editing.