10 Alternatives To Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom And Adobe’s Creative Cloud

Guest post by Jeff Colburn

As most photographers know, Adobe is moving all of its software to the Creative Cloud, or CC. Some people call it the Captive Cloud. That means that Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 5 will be the last versions you can buy on disk, and have as a “Perpetual License.”

Currently, you buy software on a DVD or as a download. You get a perpetual license to use that software for the rest of your life. But with the Creative Cloud, you lease the software month to month, or yearly. If you stop paying your fee, the software stops working. Even if you lease this software for years, you never own anything.

A subscription to Photoshop alone costs $20 a month. The suite, which is comprised of all of Adobe’s software, costs $30 a month for the first year, if you’re upgrading from CS3 or newer. After the first year it’s $50 a month. If you’re not upgrading, then it’s $50 a month from the beginning.

If you want to use Photoshop and Lightroom, Adobe suggests you subscribe to Photoshop on the Creative Cloud, and buy Lightroom 5. This is because you can only do a single-app membership, or a complete membership. The complete membership gives you access to 19 Adobe software programs, where the single-app membership gives you access to just one program, like Photoshop.

You can’t get two single-app memberships. So you can’t get Photoshop and Lightroom, you must choose to subscribe to just one of these and buy the other. Adobe is considering a Photoshop and Lightroom package, but it’s not available yet.

If you go the single-app route, I suggest you get Photoshop as Adobe will no longer be supplying updates to the perpetual license version except for Camera Raw. And even this support will end when Adobe stops selling Photoshop with a perpetual license.

To get a better idea of what the Creative Cloud is and isn’t, check out this FAQ from Adobe . It goes into detail about how CC works, that you can use the programs offline, the programs and your files are stored on your computer and more.

I belong to various photography discussion groups, and many have been talking about the Creative Cloud, and whether it will be good or bad for them. Some of the main concerns that photographers have are:

If they decide to stop paying for the Creative Cloud, they won’t be able to open my Photoshop files. All the time and effort they put into these files will be lost and the photographs will be unusable.

They don’t want to have to pay a monthly fee, since they don’t regularly buy upgrades when they come out. As for myself, I still use Photoshop CS3.

What if they start using the Creative Cloud, and in a year or two Adobe starts raising the monthly fee, a lot? I’ll have to pay the price, or hope I can find another piece of software similar to Photoshop and Lightroom that can open Photoshop files.

I just purchased Lightroom 5 and I’m considering switching to one of the below programs, then watch Adobe and see what they do over the next few years. The problem I have with subscribing to Photoshop is that I use Lightroom for about 95% of my image manipulation. Paying $900 for Photoshop, to do 5% of my image processing, is a pretty high price.

Here are some options for you. The text in quotation marks is copied from the company’s website.

Acdsee Photoshop Alternative

ACD Systems

They offer ACDSee Pro, which is like Lightroom, and ACDSee Photo Editor 6, which is like Photoshop. They also offer versions for Mac. They have nondestructive brushes and global nondestructive adjustments.

Price: $60 and $50 respectively for PC and $50 and $30 respectively for Mac
Opens RAW files: Yes
Opens Photoshop files: Yes, but doesn’t preserve layers or EXIF and IPTC metadata
Content Aware tools: No
Noise reduction: Yes
Work with layers: No, but does have object layers
Sharpen photograph: Yes
Does HDR: Sort of, get single-exposure HDR results
Free trial: Yes

Aperture

Aperture is more like Lightroom than Photoshop, and it’s for Macs. You can make adjustments, like in Lightroom, and use nondestructive adjustment brushes.

Price: $80
Opens RAW files: Yes
Opens Photoshop files: No, but can send files to be edited in Photoshop Elements
Content Aware tools: No
Noise reduction: No
Work with layers: No
Sharpen photograph: Yes
Does HDR: No
Free trial: No

Capture One Pro 7

“Based on an entirely new and groundbreaking image processing engine, the world’s most advanced imaging software will allow you to achieve vastly superior image quality with excellent color and fine detail from a camera’s raw files. Among others, this breakthrough results in even more stunning images with improved noise reduction, higher dynamic range, detail and clarity.”

Price: $239
Opens RAW files: Yes
Opens Photoshop files: Yes, but only one-layer images
Content Aware tools: No
Noise reduction: Yes
Work with layers: No, but can layer text
Sharpen photograph: Yes
Does HDR: Sort of, get single-exposure HDR results
Free trial: Yes

DxO Optics Pro 8

“Tamp down noise, optimize exposure and contrast, enhance colors, and boost the details in your compositions. Thanks to laboratory calibration of thousands of combinations of cameras and lenses, you can apply optical and geometrical corrections that are perfectly adapted to your equipment and to the content of your images.”

Price: $100 (Standard) or $200 (Elite)
Opens RAW files: Yes
Opens Photoshop files: No
Content Aware tools: No
Noise reduction: Yes
Work with layers: No
Sharpen photograph: Yes
Does HDR: Sort of, get single-exposure HDR results
Free trial: Yes

Gimp

I’ve used Gimp off and on for years, and it’s great. It’s what I turned to when a company I worked for wouldn’t buy Photoshop and I needed to manipulate photos. If you want to learn how to do something in Gimp, just Google it. People have put up a boat-load of tutorials that will show you how to do anything. And there are plugins that will give you RAW format support and even a content aware healing tool.

Price: $0
Opens RAW files: With plugin
Opens Photoshop files: Yes, but may have trouble if the file has many layers
Content Aware tools: With plugins
Noise reduction: Yes
Work with layers: Yes
Sharpen photograph: Yes
Does HDR: There’s no HDR tool, but can combine images and use a layer mask to do HDR
Free trial: Yes

Paint.net

This program is similar to Gimp but has the same tools you’ll find in Microsoft Paint. Plugins let you work with RAW and Photoshop files. Other tools include a clone stamp, text editor and unlimited history.

Price: $0
Opens RAW files: With plugins
Opens Photoshop files: With plugins
Content Aware tools: No
Noise reduction: Yes
Work with layers: Yes
Sharpen photograph: Yes
Does HDR: There’s no HDR tool, but can combine images and use a layer mask to do HDR
Free trial: Yes

PaintShop Pro X5

“With powerful photo-editing tools, incredible new instant effects, and enhanced HDR technology, creating stunning photos has never been easier. All-new tools include face recognition technology and the ability to map photos to real-world locations. Streamlined design tools let you blend images with photos and create high-quality graphics for print, video and the web. Plus, share your images online using new and enhanced social media features. It’s all available in PaintShop Pro X5, the perfect way to create, edit, enhance and share unforgettable photos and designs.”

Price: $50
Opens RAW files: Yes
Opens Photoshop files: Yes
Content Aware tools: No
Noise reduction: Yes
Work with layers: Yes
Sharpen photograph: Yes
Does HDR: Yes
Free trial: Yes

Pixelmator

Like Aperture, this program is for Macs. This program lets you manipulate Photoshop files, but is limited in the RAW files it can open.

Price: $15
Opens RAW files: Only RAW files that are supported by your computer’s operating system
Opens Photoshop files: Yes
Content Aware tools: Yes
Noise reduction: Yes
Work with layers: Yes
Sharpen photograph: Yes
Does HDR: No
Free trial: Maybe, when I click on the Free Trial link, it goes to a blank page.

Splashup

This is a web based program, and even offers layer effects, text effects and filters.

Price: $15
Opens RAW files: No
Opens Photoshop files: No
Content Aware tools: No
Noise reduction: No
Work with layers: Yes
Sharpen photograph: Yes
Does HDR: No
Free trial: Yes

Lightzone

This program was sold until September 2011, when Lightcrafts went out of business. But the program stayed active and is now an open source program. It has a lot of the features of Lightroom, and some great options for photo manipulation, and everything is nondestructive. Give it a try, it’s free.

Price: $0
Opens RAW files: Yes
Opens Photoshop files: No
Content Aware tools: No
Noise reduction: Yes
Work with layers: Sort of. The tools used to edit a photo are stacked, similarly to “layers” in other applications.
Sharpen photograph: Yes
Does HDR: No
Free trial: Yes

There is nothing on the market that does everything that Photoshop does, except Photoshop. But when you consider that the full-blown version of Photoshop is $900, and the most expensive replacement I mentioned was $239, with most under $100, you need to ask yourself something. Does Photoshop really offer enough to be worth an additional $800?

There are more options out there than the ones I mentioned, but this will give you a good start. All you have to do now is decide which path will work best for you.

Have Fun,
Jeff

Portrait Professional – Another Way To Make Your Photographs Better

Anytime you take a close up image, it’s easy to find areas to change: soften a wrinkle, add a sparkle to the eyes, or remove traces of acne. While I’ve used Photoshop for years, I’ll be the first to admit I’m not an expert. I know the things to help my images become better – and, well, that’s about it.

If you’re trying to break into the photography business, learning all there is about the business and taking better photos is more than enough. So why not make your life a little easier, and use tools that can work for you – instead of making you spend hours in a training class?

Anthropics Technology’s Portrait Professional software makes the entire process easy. Instead of requiring you to understand and use an array of tools and filters to perform adjustments, it automates much of the process for you.

 

 

When you open up your photograph and launch the program, you are guided through each step. Start by choosing Male or Female to set the default facial adjustments for that gender. From there, select the five points on the face for eyes, nose and mouth. You can fine tune the points, and facial outline marks.

[Read more...]

Online Photoshop Alternative – Pixlr

Want a quick, easy way to alter a photograph? Consider Pixlr. pixlr new

I always have a variety of photo editing tools open every day. For sophisticated corrections, Photoshop may have everything you need – and more. But let’s say you just want to create a portrait for your blog, and you’d like to vignette it for added emphasis. Or maybe you want to convert it from color to black and white, and sharpen it a bit.

Pixlr makes the entire process easy – and for a free program, you can’t beat the price.

pixlr

When you head to pixlr’s home page, you have two options: you can enter the Image Editor or the Photo Express with a click of a button.

[Read more...]

Online Photoshop Alternative – Splashup

The great thing about having access to the Internet is the possibilities are endless.

I’ve reviewed in the past photo editing sites Picture2Life and Picnic. Today lets look at photo editing tool and photo manager Splashup.

Splashup works with any of the major photo sharing service (Facebook, Flickr) on the web today. Or simply upload your images directly from your computer. From there, you can manipulate your images using a variety of tools.

Try blending your photos together. Splashup allows you to work in layers, merging them together to create a final combined image.

post 060109

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Online Photoshop Alternatives – Picture2Life

As a professional photographer, you probably have Photoshop and use it regularly. But as a professional it’s also fun to try other sites and services, just to have alternatives every once in awhile.

The thing I like best about some of the online editors is that they are online. It doesn’t matter if you have your computer with you for access to your own version of Photoshop. From any computer, you login to your account and start playing with your photographs.

Today I decided to play with Picture2Life. Picture2Life is an easy to use online image editor that allows you to manipulate your photographs, and create collages and animations. It also interfaces with all photo sharing websites and blogs, such as Flickr, Photobucket, Facebook, Blogger, WordPress, etc.

picture2life2

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Digital Photography – Gimp – Versatile Graphics Manipulation Package

The internet has created some amazing products for the digital photography industry. While everyone likes to use cutting edge programs like Adobe Photoshop, some prefer to save on the retail and search for alternatives. Well, thanks to open source and combined minds, a program is on the net that allow graphics manipulation. Gimp is an image graphic package loaded with amazing features in a compact and free price tag.

Here a just a couple of the full feature that this amazing program has:

gimp1Customizable Interface – Each task requires a different environment and GIMP allows you to customize the view and behavior the way you like it. Starting from the widget theme,  allowing you to change colors, widget spacings and icon sizes to custom tool sets in the toolbox. The interface is modulized into so called docks, allowing you to stack them into tabs or keep them open in their own window. Pressing the tab key will toggle them hidden.gimp2

Digital Retouching –   GIMP is ideal for advanced photo retouching techniques. Get rid of unneeded details using the clone tool, or touch up minor details easily with the new healing tool. With the perspective clone tool, it’s not difficult to clone objects with perspective in mind just as easily as with the orthogonal clone.

Visit the gimp.org site to download the latest version and see what a collective community can do with your next digital photography image.

Online Photoshop Alternatives – Picnik – Digital Images

Are you overwhelmed with the complexities of Adobe Photoshop? We have found some sites that offer simple photo editor solutions to your digital image needs.

Picnik – Allow you to upload images from your computer with a simple interface. Edit functions include Auto-fix, Rotate, Crop, Resize, Exposure, Colors, Sharpen and even Red-Eye.

picnikDozens and dozens of fonts, shapes, frames, all the effects and the touch-up tools are yours. Plus, all the Edit tools, the ability to undo everything you’ve ever done to your picture, and it remembers the history of the past five pictures you worked on!  Free version available which includes ads or pay a nominal fee of $24.95 to upgrade to the premium and remove the ads.

Premium: All that and then some! You get ALL the effects, frames, fonts, shapes, plus NEW advanced editing tools Curves and Levels, which have all the power found in expensive software packages but with one-click defaults and the added shine that all things Picni k have. You also get Priority Help Support, new feature previews, professional FontShop fonts and other exclusive content, the ability to access all your favorite photo sites at the same time to use Picnik to transfer photos between them, unlimited Photo History, a completely ad-free experience, AND the warm fuzzies of knowing you helped support a little photo-editor startup!