Contrary to popular belief, color photos have been around since the early 1900s, but they didn’t hit mainstream popularity until the ‘70s.
That means thousands of American families have old black and white photos from bygone eras, ready for the color editing process to give them a new life.
Every black and white image has a story to tell, but sometimes that story is better in full color. Converting old photos to color in 2021 is easier than ever before, especially with AI-driven auto-colorization that can be completed with a click of a button.
But are these tools really as good as they claim?
We took a comprehensive look at tools meant to colorize black and white photos. In this guide, we’re breaking down specific circumstances when they’ll get the job done and when they won’t. Additionally, we compare using an online tool or doing it yourself on Adobe Photoshop versus enlisting the help of a seasoned photo colorizing professional.
If you want to get your photos restored, enhanced, or retouched by an expert, head over to our order page for fast, gorgeous results!
The Lowdown On Photo Colorization Programs
Everyone loves an easy-to-use tool that gets things done. As a result, many people colorize black and white pictures using artificial intelligence software. This sort of ‘automated’ restoration is super common among Reddit photo restoration communities such as r/estoration.
However, the results may not always be up to par. That isn’t to say that every website that promises to automatically colorize black and white photos won’t give you excellent color. Instead, the outcome usually depends on what you’re trying to achieve.
Why You Should Use Them
Some artificial intelligence colorization photo restoration software, like Algorithmia, are designed to convert black and white photos to color using something called deep learning. This is when machines try to imitate the human brain’s capability for processing data by recognizing color patterns, then applying those color patterns to reconstruct black/white photos.
Services like Algorithmia or DeepAI work well when you need to automatically colorize black and white photos on the fly, but results won’t always be perfect.
That said, these AI photo colorizers really shine when given jobs that require them to add color to black and white photos of simple objects – for example, still life or anything with large color strokes. These press-of-a-button tools also fare exceptionally well with simple tasks like fixing old photos with a red-eye effect. However, using an AI service may fall short if you need to colorize photos with lots of small details and a mix of colors.
Alternatively, photo coloring can also be achieved on websites that host a specific photo editing tool. Photo coloring websites usually require an internet connection and have a simple user interface, so users can tweak until they get the color image they desire.
These photo colorizers work well when you need a tool to color images in brush strokes, like for small details and gradients. However, this type of service may not be the most efficient use of your time, especially if you don’t have experience or need to colorize black and white photos in bulk.
Why You Shouldn’t Use Them
There are a few ways to convert black and white photos to color online. From AI-powered image colorizer tools to lightweight editing software contained within dedicated websites, there’s something for every type of project.
While each of these tools has its specific strengths, it’s essential to understand their limitations when bringing old photos back to life.
When you colorize black and white photos with open-source AI programmed for deep learning, the results can be pretty mixed. That’s because these automated image colorizer solutions can sometimes fail to distinguish between areas, causing your black and white photo to look muddy and haphazardly painted over. This is especially true if you’re looking to colorize black and white motion pictures.
On top of this, there’s no real way to tell your AI colorizer exactly what you want done. That means, while this software is easy to use, it tends to add color to your photos whether it makes any visual sense or not. This can result in the colorizer painting gradients onto flat-color surfaces or leaving some areas without color.
An alternative to an AI-powered image colorizer? You can use website-based tools like ColorizePhoto, which allows users to manually paint over a black and white photo using a built-in brush tool. This software boasts comparison image support, which lets you use an existing color photo as a reference.
While this software may sound relatively easy to use, its capabilities are limited by user skill – making it an undesirable choice for people that just want their black and white photos colored fast. To put things simply, these online colorizer tools are only as good as its user, which means that it requires a more significant time investment to learn the software’s features.
Paid vs Free Photo Colorizing Software
Whether you’re looking to add colors to a single black and white photo or you have an entire album to get through, software matters. Given the vast number of available choices on the internet, how do you choose between using paid or free software to colorize your black and white photos?
Tons of free options won’t require your payment details, but they may send back low-resolution photos with a watermark as a result. This can be frustrating if you planned to print out and frame your color photo or display it in your home.
But if you aren’t too particular about how your pictures look, then free photo colorizers may be perfectly suitable for your purpose. Alternatively, if you only need small, simple adjustments made to your pictures, then there’s really no need to pay for any software!
On the other hand, paid software options often have a free trial version, but these come with a few key limitations to urge you to buy. Some paid software options feature the same AI-based photo colorizing as free ones but with one significant difference: they respond to human input and allow you to get the exact colors you want on your photo. Conversely, more popular software options like Adobe Photoshop offer a full suite of photo editing tools – you can do much more than colorize old photos.
But before you fill in your bank details for a free trial, paid software may not be the best choice for casual consumers. That’s because many of these tools are designed with professionals in mind. So while each tool can get the job done wonderfully, the final result depends on your specific skill level or willingness to learn how to apply the right colors to your photo.
Why Hiring A Professional Image Colorizer Is Your Best Option
Anyone can convert a black and white image to color online, but nothing beats careful hand-colorized results done by a professional.
At Image Restoration Center, we have a talented team of Photoshop wizards and historical experts to colorize each of your precious images. That means we have access to the latest software and the technical know-how to bring your photos to life. Using our service means no blotchy colors from automatic tools and no steep learning curve when you try to colorize photos yourself.
Our commitment to quality makes us America’s most treasured image colorization service. We also have a comprehensive menu of services beyond converting old images to color.