Top Alternatives to Adobe Photoshop

amghwk

Posts: 1,074   +985
GIMP is a worthy alternative and it's as complete as it can get for a completely free software.

And about the subscription based model all corporates are following - I don't think this would have become a trend if the consumers didn't support this modus.

Paying once and keeping it forever is much more reasonable than feeding these corporates every month. In the end, people pay more than what they would have spent for a pay-once product, ...and continue paying.

But consumers don't care.
 

duckofdeath

Posts: 448   +586
I like Paintshop Pro, as it's a comparatively affordable alternative to Photoshop, that is still a lot more refined than free options. The only thing that annoys me is that PSP still doesn't support file formats like Heic, even though they've been around for a while now. Not even by using the codec if it's installed on Windows.
 
For a still photographer this article's list is inadequate; I say that as a 50+ year photog with countless darkroom hours that, 20 years ago, was happy to leave wet chemistry behind. Back then (late 90s) we had little choice but to use Photoshop.

That was then. There are at least three additional products that should near the top of any serious photog's short list: Capture One by Phase One, DXO's Photolab, and Skylum's Luminar. Capture One is (arguably) the leading purveyor of RAW processing and Luminar -- a newish product -- incorporates state-of-the-art AI to speed selection and image manipulation. DXO's Photolab seamlessly and automatically implements leading edge optical and sensor corrections while offering most of the image manipulation capacity of Photoshop (short of layers).

Time is money to photographers and screen time is wasted effort. Both Luminar and Photolab, in particular, are markedly faster for most of us to use than Photoshop.

Also the article should have mentioned some of the limitations of these products; Photoshop Elements, for example, is limited to 8 bit color channels which means many of its tools leave (highly visible and objectionable) chroma banding on long-tonal-scale images. This is a serious limitation for almost all photographers. Virtually all raw-capable cameras these days generate 12 bit color and most support 14 bit which means that Elements leaves a huge fraction of the color palette on the table. Adobe has refuse to implement 16 bit color after decades of requests saying that this capability requires the "full product." All three of the tools I cite -- as well as many on the list like Gimp -- support 16 bit color channels.

-- gary ray
 

AnilD

Posts: 72   +94
TechSpot Elite
There are at least three additional products that should near the top of any serious photog's short list: Capture One by Phase One, DXO's Photolab, and Skylum's Luminar. Capture One is (arguably) the leading purveyor of RAW processing and Luminar -- a newish product -- incorporates state-of-the-art AI to speed selection and image manipulation. DXO's Photolab seamlessly and automatically implements leading edge optical and sensor corrections while offering most of the image manipulation capacity of Photoshop (short of layers).
That's great feedback. I have to imagine this article is not aimed at pro photographers who know their stuff better than anyone and thus can handle both the complexity and price of Photoshop (and other pro-level tools), but for the average enthusiast who wants to skip Adobe, there's something to be discovered here. I personally discovered Pixelmator on Mac is truly something.

Anyone knows if GIMP supports Macbook M1 Silicon?
It works with Rosetta, but not native. It's my understanding that GIMP on the latest versions of macOS is kind of buggy.
 

p51d007

Posts: 2,832   +2,181
I like the subscription version of photoshop, only because they roll out several update during the year, that usually would cost more than a yearly subscription, with major updates and enhancements. Been using photoshop since version 5.5...guess I'm getting too old to learn something new. ;)
 
That's great feedback. I have to imagine this article is not aimed at pro photographers who know their stuff better than anyone and thus can handle both the complexity and price of Photoshop (and other pro-level tools), but for the average enthusiast who wants to skip Adobe, there's something to be discovered here. I personally discovered Pixelmator on Mac is truly something.


It works with Rosetta, but not native. It's my understanding that GIMP on the latest versions of macOS is kind of buggy.
Roger that on ". . . not aimed at pro photographers . . ." but, honestly, GIMP and Elements are both at least as complex to operate as Photoshop beyond the "user-guided" stage. Indeed Adobe used to advertise that the whole purpose of Elements was to get users familiar with the ". . . Photoshop way of doing things." Ahem. They probably do not claim that anymore.

Photolab and, particularly, Luminar are more than a little step up in ease of operation comparatively. Photolab, for example, reads the image's metadata and optically and sensor-noise corrects before it even displays the image to you; GIMP and Elements are rudder-and-stick all the way.

Finally my comment on 8 bit color channels is relevant to all classes of photographers and would be useful to know in a comparison like this. Many photos will have subtle color transitions across large areas of the image (for example the pastels in the sky in any sunset). With an 8 bit product like Elements virtually any manipulation of that image -- say an attempt to brighten the darkened foreground in that sunset snapshot -- will result in unmistakable color banding in the sky. All the poor user knows is that they cannot edit their image without generating this objectionable artifact but really it is a consequence of the tool.
 
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TheBigFatClown

Posts: 967   +389
GIMP is a worthy alternative and it's as complete as it can get for a completely free software.

And about the subscription based model all corporates are following - I don't think this would have become a trend if the consumers didn't support this modus.

Paying once and keeping it forever is much more reasonable than feeding these corporates every month. In the end, people pay more than what they would have spent for a pay-once product, ...and continue paying.

But consumers don't care.

I care. I have Gimp installed. To be halfway fair to the philosophy behind this offering I would look at the total cost of owning some high dollar software packages versus renting them for 3 to 6 months for a single college class. $200 to own for life is good if you plan on using it for life. Not so good for someone who wants to toy with it or use for a single class.
 

Ben Myers

Posts: 145   +58
I use IrfanView for simple photo editing such as cropping, rotating or brightening an image as well as conversion between image file formats. It is easy to use and it works well for the simple things I need to do to photos. Now and then, I have to use GIMP for something more complicated.
 

Gezzer

Posts: 153   +79
I use Paint.net and swear by it.
What it lacks in "power" features it makes up for in ease of use. While I do use it for basic photo corrections/editing I mostly use it for creating D&D battle maps. I create the maps using pre-drawn map assets and am self taught, yet have still reached a point where I can create some pretty engaging maps. Not wanting to brag, but I think they look great too...
I tried Gimp, but the extra power/features it had also steepened the learning curve too much for me. And truth be told I don't miss the few "power" features Paint.net lacks. IMHO it's the perfect non-professional program available.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 17,216   +5,968
Also the article should have mentioned some of the limitations of these products; Photoshop Elements, for example, is limited to 8 bit color channels which means many of its tools leave (highly visible and objectionable) chroma banding on long-tonal-scale images. This is a serious limitation for almost all photographers. Virtually all raw-capable cameras these days generate 12 bit color and most support 14 bit which means that Elements leaves a huge fraction of the color palette on the table. Adobe has refuse to implement 16 bit color after decades of requests saying that this capability requires the "full product." All three of the tools I cite -- as well as many on the list like Gimp -- support 16 bit color channels.
First of all, you can't print even the full range of 8 bit color to paper.

Second of all, I've never seen all these wild aberrations you attribute to 8 bit color.

And third, (and most importantly) GIMP lacks adjustment layers, and, (after duping the background), "levels" is the first layer I open after that. I had GIMP installed once, opened it up, looked for adjustment layers, and said to myself "WTF am I supposed to do with this"?

Keep in mind, I was trained on Photoshop proper. And, most of the monitors around, are only 8 bit color anyway, (16.7 million colors).
 
First of all, you can't print even the full range of 8 bit color to paper.

Second of all, I've never seen all these wild aberrations you attribute to 8 bit color.

And third, (and most importantly) GIMP lacks adjustment layers, and, (after duping the background), "levels" is the first layer I open after that. I had GIMP installed once, opened it up, looked for adjustment layers, and said to myself "WTF am I supposed to do with this"?

Keep in mind, I was trained on Photoshop proper. And, most of the monitors around, are only 8 bit color anyway, (16.7 million colors).
[c/QUOTE]

Cranky --

(This all sounds complicated but Gawd knows it much simpler than wet chemistry color . . .)


With all due respect I believe that you are confusing the bits of color in an output image/device with the intermediate states required when doing image manipulation (which is the whole point of this software after all). A fair summary of this topic is contained here:

https://www.photoshopessentials.com/essentials/16-bit/

The relevant portion -- looking only at the luminescent channel -- of what happens with 8 bit discretization errors (I.e., that which generates banding) induced by using image processing tools is about halfway down the page. I tried to cut and paste that section here to no avail.

The point is while "yes" you are correct about 8 bit channels that are assigned when generating, via the gamut mapping function, output image formats such as JPGs (or, for that matter, printing or displaying to screens) that process cannot infer data for intermediate states not computed in image manipulation. Since, as I pointed out, virtually all of our capture devices do so in 10, 12 or more bits of color depth and write them that way to Raw files, a tool that doesn't throw these data away (as PS Elements prides itself in doing) would seem like a major feature.

There are photogs that capture only in JPG and thus are limited to 8 bit color at capture; if you are happy working in an 8 bit color flow by all means do so. You can do that however on just a cell phone. If you take the trouble to do something else getting the full measure of these tools capability in output files/prints would mean 16 work flow . . . until you generate the gamut used in the final output file/print.

-- gary ray
 

captaincranky

Posts: 17,216   +5,968
I'm certainly willing to entertain any thoughts or contradictions to my post. I would hope you would straighten out the major technical errors in its format, so that others may understand the pro/con aspects of the discussion, and be better able to participate. Thanks mucho in advance. (y) (Y)
 
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