Google’s free Picasa Web Albums service has just recently added an online photo editing function, courtesy of it’s acquisition of online photo editing outfit Picnik. In the top right corner of your online photo albums, you will see an ‘Edit’ button now, which loads the photo (up to 16MP photos are supported) in Picnik for editing. I took it for a quick spin to see how it compares to other editing options.
The majority of core functions are implemented here, such as cropping, rotation and resizing. In addition, exposure/contrast adjustment is present, as well as the ever useful saturation tool. Picnik implements a freemium model, where the main useful functions are usable, and the more advanced tools (such as soft focus or curve adjustment being on a subscription basis – around $2 a month). However, the free tools cover nearly all the commands that one could want for photo fixing. These features extend to surprisingly advanced functions, such as cloning stamps or burning tools, which are not present in the PC-based Picasa install.
I found the interface very user-friendly and clearly labelled, though with some inherent command delay present with most web apps. If anything, the Picnik Window should take the entire screen instead of leaving a blank margin around the outside. Changes can be saved back to the Picasa Web Album, but batch commands are not supported. Large pictures (over 10MP) can also take time to execute some commands.
For those who are already using the PC-based Picasa Web Albums or Photoshop for basic editing, then it’s likely that Picnik will fulfil your requirements for photo editing, especially combined with Picasa’s robust album management system. However, it does nothing for batch uploads, as it’s purely an editing suite. For users of advanced functions of Photoshop or GIMP, then Picnik will pose no threat at all, as it lacks more advanced functions, especially masking tools. Overall a solid and much needed addition to Picasa, especially for beginners or those in a hurry.