This no-frills photo editing software doesn't require a gig of RAM or half of your hard drive for swap space, but that doesn't mean it skimps on the features. For a whole host of reasons, Fotografix might be my new favorite image editing app. For one thing, it's literally tiny, weighing in at under one megabyte fully installed, including all its included brush shapes and macro scripts. It also sips delicately your system's available RAM, making it well suited to netbooks or other systems with limited resources.

Because it's an inherently resource-thrifty application, its user interface isn't showy: Dialog boxes are fairly basic and to-the-point. But that doesn't mean you won't find all the tools you need to do basic image fixes----color correction, brightness, contrast----and beyond. Fotografix supports layers, and it comes with a basic selection of common, popular image modification tools that let you apply to an image. For example, you can apply motion blur, then some sharpening or softening, and finally the ability to pixelate one or more regions of the image. There are even tools to turn a color photo into a green "night vision" image, or solarize a shot for artistic effect.

As far as image organization, and the ability to apply wide ranges of advanced artistic modifications to images, Fotografix the program falls behind its contemporaries. But its low-key approach means the application does those few things it can do really well, without churning your system to a halt just by launching the application. And in an age in which software bloat isn't just the name of the game but the way it's played, a spry little application like Fotografix reminds us how all software companies should treat our PCs: By respecting them, rather than constantly demanding that we keep up with costly hardware updates just to maintain adequate performance.

--Andrew Brandt / PC

While graphic design professionals probably wouldn't be able to substitute Fotografix for Photoshop, it's certainly a capable free alternative for the average Joe.

In addition to being totally portable, Fotografix has a ridiculously small footprint. It's a 370Kb download and about 700Kb once extracted. Despite its size, most of the features I rely on in Photoshop are available. Fotografix supports layers, masks, and scripting, comes with a few key blur and stylization filters, and type layers are editable (unlike some other editors where text is a one-shot deal).

The usual editing tools are also provided, like rectangular and elliptical marquees, magic wand, rubber stamp, eyedropper, and gradient tool. For me, the only glaring omission was the lack of grid and ruler options. Regardless, I didn't have any trouble accomplishing my daily blog-editing tasks with Fotografix.

No, Fotografix isn't a replacement for Photoshop, but its good range of features, small size, and portability make it an excellent option for quick edits on the go. The price is hard to argue with, too.

Since the author's site is hosted by GeoCities and he allows redistribution, I took the liberty of mirroring the app with RapidSpread - just in case he hits his traffic limit before you get a chance to download.

--Lee Mathews / Download

Operating Systems:

Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7