Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983
VirtualStudio shows how cool 'free' can be
Sept. 20, 2009
By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2009, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2009, The
The best way to save money is to stop spending it. That's the idea
behind my new series on the best free software for Windows and Macs. This week I'm recommending a Windows photo editor that can
also run on many Macs.
Good photo editors are easy to find. There's Photoshop, of course, and its little brother, Photoshop
Elements. I enjoy using both of them. But they're far from free. Photoshop costs many hundreds of dollars and Photoshop Elements
But in these times, anything higher than $0 is a tough sell -- especially when you can install the fabulous
free photo editor from Google called Picasa. It's earned my praise as the best free photo software on the planet. (See www.technofileonline.com/texts/tec010806.html,
but note that since that review was written, Picasa became available for the Mac as well as for Windows.)
I like Picasa so much I teach workshops about it. But Picasa only goes so far. It's basically wonderful and
wonderfully basic. What's needed is a free photo editor that extends the capabilities of Picasa.
And that's just what I've found in a program called VirtualStudio, free from www.optikvervelabs.com/virtualstudio.asp. It's modern
software, with easy-to-use menus, that can make just about any kind of editing change to a photo. Best of all, it comes with a
built-in super-editor called VirtualPhotographer, which you'll find absolutely delightful for turning good photos into great
I raved about VirtualPhotographer a few years ago when it hit the freeware lists (read the review at www.technofileonline.com/texts/tec101704.html)
and I'm still singing its praises now. Among the techniques in VirtualPhotographer are ways to add a convincing "film look" to
digital photos and ways to alter the lighting to add a mood or a special look to any photo.
VirtualStudio is a non-nags, no-nonsense program. You couldn't buy it even if you wanted to. It's freeware
in the best tradition -- totally free software that works well and makes you feel good.
Very few high-priced commercial programs can do what this free software can do. You're missing out on one
of the coolest experiences in all of digital photography if you don't install and use this software.
A bonus for Mac users: VirtualStudio runs perfectly under Crossover Mac, the software that allows modern
Macs to run Windows programs without needing Windows itself. You'll find more on Crossover Mac here: www.technofileonline.com/texts/tec081008.html.