Saturday, 24 August 2013

An interesting time for Photo Editing Programs

Wherefore goeth thou photo editor?

Just the other day, Adobe moved on from the traditional desktop licensing system which revolves around irregularly purchasing locked, desktop software to the new method of ensuring regular, monthly income - known as the Creative Cloud. Adobe is not the only company looking at bottom line financials - Microsoft, another traditional desktop company has also implemented a regular income model in Office 365.

There was an initial hue and outcry but the white balance held and customers and potential customers are going about their regular activities - notable customers accepted the Creative Cloud premise, non customers, well, they were always non customers.

The big deal was that there was no real alternative to Photoshop - by delivering a rich, well endowed product, year after year, Photoshop had become the de facto industry and amateur standard for photo editing - job recruitments could demand Photoshop certified skills, employers could demand Photoshop knowledge and there is a flourishing market of Photoshop workshops, face to face teaching, online tutorials, magazines and books. Amateur photographers who may not need the comprehensive and extensive Photoshop goodness had / still have the perception that anything they needed to do, had to be done in Photoshop because, well, that's what the pros use and if a pro uses Photoshop, it must be the standard.

Essentially, the global community had voted Photoshop into premier position and may still do.

Going forward

Photoshop is still the nominated king but it is up to each one of you to engage with competitor products, to cheer them on with effort, useage or income - it is in everyone's interests, even Adobe's to support diversity in alternatives, to allow uniqueness and tuning to various needs, budgets, interests and skills. Here are some products that you might want to encourage.

Sagelight Image Editor (Windows)

Sagelight is programmed by Rob. Yes, one person programming team. Rob. He's not asking a lot of money for it. That program does have a lot of kung fu . I bought it some time ago and love the very intuitive sliders and screens, just discovered CLAHE. When I encountered lack of support for my Olympus E-PM2 camera's raw files in Corel Aftershot Pro and Adobe product, Sagelight didn't blink and just worked. Sagelight implements the Photoshop 8BF plugin interface - but because the Sagelight is so different from Photoshop for some plugins, there are user interface or functionality glitches. Topaz Restyler, Nik Color Efex and many other plugins work.

He's engaging in his forum, recording video tutorials on Facebook and on Google+ - what more can you ask for? You're talking direct to the designer and head programmer!

The Lightzone Project (Windows, Linux)

Lightzone is an old program but has been resurrected in an open source project. It's free as in beer. I've just started looking at it but what is intriguing is the presence of an Ansel Adams like Zone Mapping Tool. Lightzone has a Google+ Community and a user forum.

Corel Paintshop Pro X6

Corel used to be a large company, famous for Corel Draw, the vector graphics program in the early days of Windows. Now, they are perceived as a distant second to the Adobe brand. To me, Paintshop Pro is the closest commercial competitor to Adobe Photoshop - it misses out on many high tech features, polish, robustness. I find Paintshop Pro more approachable for me. It has a recordable and playable macro language if you need to carry out repetitive work.

Paintshop Pro implements the Photoshop 8bf plugin interface but because of product differences, not every plugin will work. Topaz Restyler, Nik Color Efex work. Paintshop Pro is often discounted. When purchasing online, take the time to check the Corel webpages and discounts - I found different entry points into the website caused inconsistent offer prices to be displayed.

The current retail version for new customers is X5. Existing customers can upgrade to X6 - this will be officially available to public on Sept 4, 2013. Paint Shop Pro X6 is available in both 32 bit and 64 bit editions - the 64 bit edition needs Windows 64 bit to support it and then it can reach out to memory above the 4Gb limit of 32 bit Windows. Some old plugins may not be compatible with the 64 bit edition - you can install both editions side by side in one installation step.

Corel has inconsistent social media participation but does have a user forum.


No discussion of alternative photo editors would leave out The GIMP. I find it hard to get into because it is so old style rich but lots of people swear by it.
For example, Pat David wrote Getting Around GIMP - Photography Plugins and Tools. The are masses of websites devoted to The GIMP - they also have a Google+ presence.  Most importantly, there is Portable GIMP - this means this free-to-carry-around software does not have to be installed onto your Windows PC and can be carried around on a USB stick or a portable hard disk. And it's cost free.

Mediachance Products

Way back in the olden days, I was looking for something simple and bought an earlier version of Photobrush. Mediachance is another one man company. Now there are more sibling products - Photo ReactorDynamic Photo HDR and Photo Blend. There are free trial downloads and user forums.

Photo Reactor in particular is a very curious design for a photo editor - it reminds me of a visual object based programming system - each editing category is defined as a visual box and you link boxes together.

OnOne Software's Perfect Photo Suite

Although available plugins for Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop, the Perfect Photo Suite is now available in a standalone edition. The programs are not basic photo editing programs but if you are looking for bottled refinements, they have much to offer.

Enjoy your time on the computer.

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