The Canvas Photo Editor as an alternative to Pixlr - plus some thoughts on choosing a product

I am a bit of a fan of free online photo and image editors. Although I do have access to Adobe Photoshop, for simple operations like resizing or cropping it's often quicker just to open a photo editor in a new browser tab.

For quite a while now, my go-to online photo editor has been Pixlr (or should I say editors - it is currently available in two flavours, the Photoshop-like Pixlr E and the friendlier Pixlr X).

As well as using it myself, I've been recommending Pixlr to some of my journalist colleagues as a speedy way for them to resize their photos for online use. However the software has recently introduced the requirement to register and log in, which makes it slightly less appropriate for them.

One alternative then is The Canvas Photo Editor, a free editor from a UK-based online canvas print provider. It appears the tool has been provided so that customers can prepare their photos for use in a canvas print - the website says:

All you have to do once you're done editing your image is set your canvas specifications and add your image to your cart.

Once it's processed, the printed image will be sent to you in no time.

However as there's no requirement to purchase a print, you can freely use the editor for any photo editing task you wish. And unlike Pixlr, there's no need to register and log in either.

The task at hand

Most often my journalist colleagues and I use online photo editors to get an image to fit particular dimensions, for example 1200 x 630 pixels for use on social media. This can involve resizing, cropping to achieve the correct aspect ratio, or usually both of these operations in turn. So how does The Canvas Photo Editor fare at this task?

The answer is: absolutely fine. Your image can be resized to any given width and height, with the aspect ratio maintained by default. Cropping is done by setting specific pixel values or by dragging corner and side handles. It's also possible to crop to one of a number of preset aspect ratios (although unlike Pixlr, you can't determine your own):

Cropping in The Canvas Photo Editor

Where Canvas falls down for me is saving off images. Photos are always saved in the PNG file format, even if originally uploaded as JPGs. This means there is no way to opt for a lower-quality image (and smaller, faster-loading file).

This makes sense in the context of canvas prints, where you would want the source image to be the highest quality possible - and in a lossless format (without lossy compression artefacts). But it reduces the usefulness of the tool for other purposes.

Making the right choice

Choosing one tool or product over another is always a trade-off. Is any given factor (for example the ability to use the tool without registering) more important than another (for example the ability to save images as space-saving JPGs)?

That depends on the situation, which means that choosing a product is also always situational. It's rarely possible to say that one product is better than another, only that it is more appropriate.

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