I need to edit some images in Windows. I plan to do more than simple things (not just color / contrast correction, but removing spots and filling in missing areas).

Don't have memory / GPU / CPU constraints. The only constraint would be the price: I'm not willing to pay more than $400 in USD.

The software would need to deal with RAW, JPG and PNG files.

Requirements (short version)

  • Must run on windows
  • Advanced options (remove spots, fill missing areas...)
  • Low memory requirement
  • Can be paid but must be less than $400 us dollars
  • Must deal with
    • RAW
    • JPG
    • PNG

4 Answers 4


I really like GIMP. It's free and you can it supports plugins, so for example, you can use Resynthesizer & Heal Selection to fill missing areas. To open RAW files, you need to use the UFRaw plugin.

Here is a screenshot: Gimp Editor UI

  • GIMP isn't a low memory soft :o Feb 13, 2014 at 12:15
  • +1 for this recommendation. IMHO, be prepared for a steep learning curve though, as well as possibly needing to un-learn some Photoshop habits.
    – Jeroen
    Mar 1, 2014 at 21:33
  • I also support this recommendation, Gimp is a great image editor plus it is one of the great open source GUI projects. It is also cross-platform and very stable as far as I used it in the past years.
    – Johnride
    Apr 10, 2014 at 13:36

I've come to really enjoy using Paint .NET for this sort of thing. It's free, so I'm certain it'll fit within your budget.

RAW support is available through plugins (there are many others). JPG and PNG files aren't a problem. Note that while many of the plugins work well, RAW files take a second or two to load properly.

The interface is as minimal as you can get while still maintaining a functional feature complete image editor. I use it almost every day to re-size an image, add captions, crop and other stuff when I need to add images to something I'm writing. I would consider myself a basic user, but people do much more amazing things with it. It's more than suited for simple touching up and correcting.

On my laptop, a Core i7 with 16 GB of RAM, it opens almost instantly, saving and applying filters and things is also really fast.

It's been a while since I installed it, but the last time I did, it was effortless. All of the needed .NET components it needs to work ship with it, pretty easy to get up and running rather quickly.

There's also a thriving community of users around it, so support is quite easy to get when you need it.

  • 3
    I was about to post this! Paint.NET is amazing, especially since it's made by one person! (+1)
    – Doorknob
    Feb 5, 2014 at 13:02

Photoshop Elements covers all the jobs you mentioned, but it's not as heavy as the full, gigantic Adobe Creative Suite, so it's well within your price range as well. I picked up version 9 a while ago for about $80, and the full retail price for version 12 (current as of this writing) seems to be about $100.

You mentioned removing spots and filling in missing areas, and those are jobs done by my favorite tool in the program (because I'm an enthusiast, not an expert): the "spot healing brush." It automatically generates a natural-looking replacement for an area of your choosing based on nearby pixels, so you don't get the "edges not matching up" issue caused by just copying another section of the same image.

Elements contains get all the usual color/contrast/brightness/levels tools, as well. I've used it without any issues for JPG and PNG files. I haven't personally tried it on RAW files, but they are supported.

The only downside I've found is that it's a bit of a resource-intensive program, but you said you don't have constraints there, so you should be all set. Anecdotally, it struggled with panorama stitching on a 4GB machine with minimal hard drive space, but got much better on a 32GB machine with a half-empty SSD.

For a list of what the program does not offer that "regular" Photoshop does, see Adobe's FAQ entry on the topic.


Krita is a complete creative sketching and painting application with advanced, commercial quality features. It's free, open-source and available across all major desktop platforms.

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