Is Photoshop a Must??
With cost skyrocketing in almost every area possible, one often needs to stop and think where can I cut costs? For may photographers Photoshop has been essential and have been loyal to Adobe for many years. Some have left after Adobe started the subscription model, but even so the price for Lightroom and Photoshop remains at about $9.95/mo which considering Photoshop alone was almost $600 during the last stand alone version (CS6) this is still a fairly good deal. Photoshop is very well supported by Adobe, industry experts, as well as the photography community in general. Updates over the last two years have improved the product significantly. But the question still remains, do I really need to pay Adobe or are there other alternatives?
To answer this question, one must ask themselves, what type of photographer am I? Hobbyist, Professional, collaborator, digital artist?
Affinity Pro is a robust suite that offers not only a photo editor, but also a publisher and design module that rivals some of the Adobe programs such as Illustrator. The programs are available on both Apple and Windows platforms and even on the ipad. At $40.00 for the photo editor, it can be a very attractive purchase. Another program that has been around for quite awhile is GIMP. GIMP is an open source free editor that again is available on multiple platforms useful primarily for photo editing, although some use GIMP for illustrations. Pixlr , PicMonkey, ACDsee are also options with free or very low cost subscriptions for premium versions of the software. Lets not forget that Adobe also puts out Photoshop express, which is a limited version of the full program. Of course there are numerous other editors, some of which will allow editing right from the cell phone.
Lets stop for a second and take out of the discussion wants vs needs. Also lets look carefully at the word Professional, since it can mean many different things to different people. If you want Photoshop for whatever reason, then by all means sign up for the subscription service. Do you really need it? If you are a Hobbyist, amateur, or just starting out with little experience in photo editing why do you need a program that almost all agree has a fairly high learning curve? Many professionals who are paid for their photography use a suite like Affinity Pro and do quite well with it.
Capture One has gained quite a bit of traction over the last few years. It is a full fledged editing program that has most of the features that one would find in Photoshop. One can get Capture one for a subscription price of $179/yr or a one time fee of $300 to own the program. A free trial can be obtained from the website.
Microsoft windows actually comes with a photo viewing app (Photo). You can view images, set up catalogs, and use some presets to do some basic edits. InfranView is another free app that has quite a bit of power for a free program. Free programs that adds lightroom-type features are Darktable and Rawtherapee. Both apps offer essentially a powerful editing and cataloging that are well worth a look.
However, suppose you are a collaborator working closely with others in an office? Suppose you are a digital artist working with complex composites? Photoshop is very hard to beat with the level of support it offers directly and indirectly. There is a very large community surrounding photoshop and practically any question that you have can be answered by a quick search either directly from Adobe or a forum. If you shoot in Raw format and want to import into an editing program, Photoshop and Lightroom do a decent job updating compatibility with a variety of camera formats.
In the end, one can look at what one wants and/or what one needs. Cost, features, and support all roll into a well informed decision as to what may be best for you.
Some free program Links:
Microsoft Photos: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/mic... - IrfanView Graphic Viewer: https://www.irfanview.com/ - Adobe Photoshop Express: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/ado... - darktable: https://www.darktable.org/ - Raw Therapee: http://rawtherapee.com/ - Gimp: https://www.gimp.org/