February 29, 2008

Alternatives To Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is the most widely-used photo editing software. It’s expensive and has a steep learning curve. If you want to find something that’s cheaper or easier to use to edit your photos, here are some programs to consider.

Gimp is free open source software for editing photos.

Photoshop Elements Mac version and Photoshop Elements Windows version are sort of like Photoshop light. Elements has most of the tools photographers need, is easier to use than Photoshop and is considerably less expensive than Photoshop.

Picassa is a free web-based program for editing and sorting your photos.

While not nearly as powerful as Photoshop, point-and-shoot owners who use Macs can probably get by with the free copy of iPhoto installed on every Mac.

Another Mac-only program that offers great photo editing is Pixelmator. At $59, it’s cheaper and easier to use than Photoshop.

Did I miss anything?

This post sponsored by the Digital SLR Store

Join the conversation! 27 Comments

  1. Capture NX. It’s not the world’s sexiest program, and it’s certainly slanted toward Nikon users (although it’ll open TIFFs or JPEGs, so you could in theory use it with any camera), but, in addition to playing nicer with Nikon’s files than other programs, Capture NX has the control point/U-Point technology that some folks are drooling over in the upcoming Viveza photoshop plugin. Capture NX is cheaper and is already on the market now, so if you use a Nikon and/or you really, really hate layers, Capture NX is worth a try.

    Also, I think Picasa has one “s” in it.

  2. Corel Paint Shop Pro® Photo X2

  3. Picassa Isn’t web based, It is a Windows/Linux application. It does have its own online web storage you can publish to similar to Flickr but is isn’t a “web based” program.

    All in all, it is ok, and free. Think Aperture Lite…

  4. Nikon Capture NX [Mac or PC] is coming along. Keep in mind the current version is not Leopard compatible. Recently I spoke with a Nikon rep and he mentioned an update is in the near future.

    I just purchased a D300 and Capture NX was included in the box with a full unrestricted license. I believe it runs $150 if purchased separately.

    Take a look at the demo’s here [tutorials link/movies]:



  5. Thanks for the clarification Jeremy – I misspoke.

  6. How about the new software from flying meat software called Acorn. I have no experience with it but it seems to be getting good reviews. http://flyingmeat.com/acorn/

  7. Paul — The most recent update of Capture NX runs reasonably happily under Leopard, and so far I haven’t experienced any of the data corruption issues that I had encountered with the prior version. I don’t think they’ve declared it fully compatible, but they do seem to be making progress.

    Also, you can save a bit by buying it from Amazon.

  8. Paint.Net is freeware and totally awesome. Looks and works great, in my opinion it is a lot better than Gimp for example. Only for Windows though.

  9. Thanks kuk …

    I’ll install and check it out.


  10. I am a beginner and only know the name because I heard it mentioned on podcasts, but does Aperture fall into this category?

  11. Although it has already mentioned I also wanted to add Acorn. The filters in acorn are quite impressive although there is something left to be desired for photo editing. Also, you can’t forget Lightroom and Aperture. Although you can not do selection based editing (for the most part: I know you can perform touch ups using lightroom) these could certainly be considered image editors (especially if iPhoto is considered an image editor).

    Although I have dabbled in all of the editors I always go back to photoshop. Nothing really compares.

  12. Oh yeah one more thing. You can actually resize images using quicksilver. Thus, I would consider it a very basic image editor.

  13. I don’t consider being able to resize an image as an image editor. If I included every piece of software that did resizing – the page would be very long indeed.

  14. Check out a cool web app for image editing at http://www.picnik.com/app#/home/welcome It has a very cool, clean web 2.o , Ajax interface. For light duty stuff it is a clean well designed tool.

  15. No list is complete without ImageWell. I use this constantly to quickly edit an image for the web. Fast,lightweight, everything an editor should be.

  16. I love ImageWell and use it daily – but once again – it primarily resizes or reformats images and can’t in any way be compared with the types of programs I mentioned which are pixel editors.

  17. I’ve been using a program called bibble lite from bibble labs to process all of my photos. It is more of an aperture/light room competitor than a photoshop competitor but it has the tools I like for dealing with raw images.

  18. How much more advanced is Photoshop Elements than iPhoto? I don’t need the full treatment of Photoshop, but iPhoto strikes me as too basic. Anyone else work with the Photoshop Elements 6.0 for Mac?

  19. Elements is much more advanced than iPhoto, but not as easy to use and lacking the book printing and such. That said, iPhoto is capable of more than is commonly realised.

  20. I use PS, but here are some online ones:

    in beta: Aviary (collection of graphics apps – all online)

    type “online photo editor” in Google and see A LOT show up!

    There is even on online one with layers! – http://www.splashup.com/

  21. LightZone (http://www.lightcrafts.com/products/) is a Mac-Windows-Linux photo editor that has amazing control over light (exposure, color balance etc.). All edits are done in layers automatically so you can always back up if you don’t like the results. I love how fast I can adjust a photo, and the learning curve is not sharp. However, the approach it uses is a very unphotoshop like so you PS heads will want to keep an open mind. You can download a 30 day demo from the website for a tryout. I tried it and bought the lite version before the demo was over.

  22. I forgot to mention that LightZone does RAW, even for oddball cameras like my Panasonic DMC-FZ18. See the website for a list of RAW Camera files it can read.

  23. Just downloaded a trial of Pixelmator. WOW. That is a beautiful piece of software and immediately useable by anyone familiar with photoshop or elements.

  24. Xara Extreme. It’s a vector based, and very powerful. Quite cheap $79 for Windows, free open source (http://www.xaraxtreme.org/) for Linux. Although the project is hoping to get to a mac version out too.

  25. I’ve tried GIMP and its perfect for my budget !!!

    Now I dont have to use that bootleg version of Photoshop 6 anymore..

  26. I think Picture Windows is worth to mention. It´s really good for photo editing, easyer to master, but not that easy and much cheaper than Photoshop. Windows only thought

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