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NCH PhotoPad Photo Editing Software Review

NCH PhotoPad Photo Editing Software Review

In the world of digital photography, having a reliable and user-friendly photo editing software is essential. NCH PhotoPad Photo Editing Software is one such tool that aims to provide users with a comprehensive set of editing features wrapped in a straightforward interface. In this review, we’ll take a closer look at what PhotoPad has to offer and whether it’s a good fit for your photo editing needs.

In the past I have focussed on high-end, professional, and expensive photography software. This post begins a series that looks at cost-effective alternatives that may appeal to hobbyists who don’t want to spend a huge amount but still want to enhance their photos. Given the widespread use of smartphones, this is not a niche market and there surely is a place for looking at affordable yet capable photo software.

NCH Software

I’ve used some of NCH Software’s tools for many years. In my IT role I use their ClickChart software for data and software modelling and I make regular use of their audio conversion software. It’s good stuff – less featured than the most expensive alternatives, but good enough for my needs.

This is my first review of the photographic software. Maybe it’ll be good enough for your needs…

NCH PhotoPad Overview

On opening PhotoPad, you’re greeted with a very welcome introduction screen. I like it when programs guide you, rather than leaving you scratching your head, wondering where to start.

NCH PhotoPad - Introductory Screen

After clicking Get Started, you get another options screen:

NCH Photo Pad options screen

It’s refreshing to use a program that wants to be used, rather than making me wish I had an IQ of 160! And there are options here that I wouldn’t expect in a program priced as appealingly as this.

This brief review will look at basic image editing and the Photo Library option. First, I will edit an image.

NCH Photo Pad – Edit an image

As it says it can process RAW files, I opened one I took in the UK Peak District a couple of years ago:

Ok, I wasn’t expecting that. Most programs would read the EXIF and correct the orientation. But it’s not a problem as there’s the Rotate button at the top of the screen:

That’s better. Note the helpful tip at the bottom of the page, if you want to do a manual rotate.

At this point I started looking for options normally present when working with a RAW file. Things such as White Balance and Colour Profile, but they aren’t present. The program opened the photo and, I guess, selected an appropriate white balance and assigned the sRGB colour space. For a program at this level, I think that’s ok.

Along the top of the screen are many options and presets. I won’t show them all – you can download a trial copy and play with the software to see them all.

The trial version limits the number of effects you can apply. The trial doesn’t expire, by the way. You can enable the advanced features for a limited period, but the core program keeps working.

For this image, I increased the saturation (which has a nice ‘prevent over-saturation’ setting), warmed the image using the colour temperature setting, increased the contrast, added a wooden frame, sharpened (using unsharp mask), resized it for the screen (bicubic) and saved as a JPEG.

There are dozens of effects and filters that you could apply and the editor supports layers, so you can get very creative with it.

Here’s the result:

NCH PhotoPad edited image

Photo Library

PhotoPad features Digital Asset Management. I wasn’t expecting that…

Creating a library consists of adding individual images and folders or importing from a camera/external disk. It’s not the fastest nor the most sophisticated image browser, but it does its job. You can add tags and ratings to images, create albums and easily add images to those albums. 

PhotoPad Library

I’ve not covered everything this editor can do, but I think it worth downloading and giving it a trial run.


NCH PhotoPad offers:

Easy to Use Interface

One of the standout features of PhotoPad is its easy-to-use interface. The software is designed with beginners in mind, making it accessible for those who are new to photo editing. The layout is intuitive, with clear labels and icons that make it simple to navigate through the various editing options. This user-friendly design means you can start editing your photos without a steep learning curve.

Basic Editing Tools

PhotoPad comes equipped with all the basic editing tools you would expect from a photo editor. You can crop, rotate, and resize your images with ease. Additionally, the software offers simple adjustments for brightness, contrast, and color saturation, allowing you to enhance your photos quickly. These basic tools are perfect for quick touch-ups and are easy to apply even for novices.

Advanced Features

For those looking to dive deeper into photo editing, PhotoPad also includes a range of advanced features. You can work with layers, which is great for complex editing tasks, and apply various filters and effects to add artistic touches to your images. The software also supports HDR imaging, giving you the ability to create high dynamic range photos by combining multiple exposures.

Retouching Capabilities

Retouching portraits and other photos is made simple with PhotoPad’s retouching tools. You can remove red-eye, blemishes, and imperfections with dedicated tools that are surprisingly effective. The software also offers a clone tool to duplicate or remove elements within the photo, which can be incredibly useful for cleaning up unwanted distractions.

Compatibility and Sharing

PhotoPad supports a wide range of image formats, including RAW files, which is a big plus for photographers who prefer shooting in RAW for maximum quality and editing flexibility. Once you’ve finished editing, sharing your photos is straightforward. PhotoPad allows you to save your work in various formats or directly upload to social media platforms, making it easy to share your creations with friends and family.


NCH PhotoPad is a pleasing image editor, aimed at the general public. Whilst there are loads of photo apps available for your phone, editing pictures on a PC, with its large screen, is a much nicer experience. If you’re looking for a solid image editor, I’d give this a spin.


Currently, NCH are selling PhotoPad at $29.99/£27.68 for the Home (non commercial use) edition and $34.99/£27.68 for the professional edition. This is an offer price, so it may have changed when you visit their site.

To download a trial version, click this linkPhotopad Photo Editor.

Recommended Software

Professional Level

RAW Converters

Image Finishing

Image Editing

Digital Asset Manager

Casual/Budget Level


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