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Adobe Photoshop is one of those weird products that has an cultural significance far beyond its actual purpose. As we've said before, it has become a verb - we commonly speak about 'Photoshopping' images regardless of the software that we actually used to do it.
Adobe’s recent announcement that everything beyond Photoshop CS6 will need to be rented as part of its Creative Cloud lineup has caused a fair amount of disquiet (some of which has been pretty loud), but Photoshop isn't the only game in town, and never has been. In this article we'll be taking a quick look at ten other pieces of image manipulation software that you might not know about, but which are well worth exploring.
None of these applications is a true one-to-one 'replacement' for Photoshop CS6, particularly if you're a graphic designer or video professional. But for the rest of us - people that just want to retouch images, manipulate composition, adjust colors and saturation, apply canned filters and effects, and remove that kid who wandered into the foreground of an otherwise-perfect photo - they may prove to be very useful.
Obviously, this isn't a comprehensive list. If you think we've missed anything, as always let us know in the comments!
If you’re using Windows and looking to replace the one-two punch of Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom entirely, ACDSee Pro 6 (a Lightroom alternative) and ACDSee Photo Editor 6 (a Photoshop alternative) may get you some of the way there for a fraction of the price.
ACDSee Pro 6 offers RAW processing, image tagging and organization tools, and exposure/color enhancements, while Photo Editor 6 is the more-Photoshop-like tool for layer-based, pixel-level edits. ACDSee Pro 6 doesn’t offer many of the facial-recognition, geotagging, and distortion-correction whistles and bells of Lightroom and Aperture, but both pieces of software offer extensive RAW-format support out of the box. Mac users beware though - you'll have to make do with ACDSee Pro 3 for now.
Lightroom isn’t a Photoshop alternative per se. Launched as a RAW workflow tool, Adobe has been steadily updating it through four iterations (a beta version of 5 is also available) and if you don’t need to slice and dice your images too intensively, it's a great alternative to 'full strength' Photoshop.
If you're a RAW shooter you may already be using Lightroom as part of your workflow, as it covers a few of Photoshop’s weakest points: organizing your photos, tagging your photos, and applying quick fixes and enhancements. If you work mainly with RAW files and need a program to quickly process your images, adjust exposure, remove noise, and apply the same adjustments to a batch of images, Lightroom may be all you need - which was precisely why Adobe created it.
Lightroom 4 is available for $150 as a standalone boxed package or via a $50/month Creative Cloud subscription. (Of course, if you’re already paying $50 per month for Lightroom via a Creative Cloud subscription, you’ll have Photoshop CS6 as part of the package, too.)
Aperture is more of a Lightroom alternative than a Photoshop CS6 alternative, and if you're a Mac user it might be just what you need. Aperture blends advanced features such as RAW processing, manual retouching, custom-printing elements, and tagging/organization tools with novice-friendly options such as facial recognition, geotagging, and one-click filters. Unlike Lightroom, Aperture does not offer built-in lens-distortion correction out of the box, but there are several Aperture plugins available on Apple’s site that offer that and many other features.
Earlier versions of Aperture were notoriously system-intensive, requiring a lot of processing power to run, but Aperture 3 is much improved. At $80 it's hard to find much to complain about.
If you’re looking specifically for a boxed-software Photoshop alternative for Windows, Corel PaintShop Pro X5 is one of the most-popular packages in that realm.
It’s arguably the best option in this roundup for graphic artists, as it can create vector graphics and offers interoperability with Photoshop’s own brush tools. As you’d expect, it also features a full array of photo-editing tools as well, including layers, filters, one-click HDR and other filters, retouch tools, and much more RAW-format support than any of the free packages (including 16-bit RAW). The 'Ultimate' edition of PaintShop Pro X5 costs just $10 more than the standard version, and it includes Nik Color Efx Pro 3.0 filters (which costs around $150 by itself, so that’s quite a deal) and additional enhancement tools for portrait photographers.
If you want automated, tailored-to-your-camera lens correction in your RAW-processing software, look no further than DxO Optics Pro.
This Lightroom alternative features an extensive database of camera/lens combinations, which you can activate as 'modules' to automate lens-correction, chromatic aberration, sharpening, vignetting, and noise-reduction fixes. The Standard edition’s database of lens/camera combinations is built to support everything from RAW-capable point-and-shoot cameras to consumer-level DSLRs, while the Elite edition is a better fit for those shooting with a full-frame DSLR or other professional-level kits. Optics Pro 8 takes some getting used to, but it's an incredibly powerful tool and its lens corrections really do have to be seen to be believed. Be prepared to wait for new cameras and lens modules to be added, though DxO is getting better in this regard.
GIMP is an open-source project that costs absolutely nothing. It does an admirable job of replicating Photoshop’s feature set when it comes to recomposing and manipulating your photos, applying effects, and cropping and resizing images.
GIMP supports editing PSD files, and its arsenal of tools is without equal for the price: Filters; brush tools; text tools; layers; distortion and color-correction tools; and plenty of cropping, resizing, and effects options. Although it shares a surprising amount of features with the much-higher-priced Photoshop, GIMP is nowhere near as much of a resource hog. The most common gripes with GIMP are that it isn’t as polished or easy to use as Photoshop, nor does it match up to Adobe’s editing software when it comes to advanced features and color management (no 16-/32-bit RAW or CMYK support, for example).
GIMP has a healthy selection of plug-ins that make its feature set even more Photoshop-like, including content-aware healing tools, extensive RAW-format support, and even a modified version that looks and acts more like Photoshop, if you get homesick.
Paint.net is a free Windows-only program that's often mentioned alongside GIMP (it's free, for one thing) but avid users give it an edge in terms of learning curve; if you know your way around Microsoft Paint, you should get the hang of Paint.net pretty quickly.
Paint.net's palette of basic selection and paint tools are nearly identical to those found in Microsoft Paint, but it ups the ante with Photoshop-like support for layers, filters, and effects. It’s also similar to GIMP in terms of extensive plug-in development, and those add-ons will be essential to more-advanced users. You’ll need to download and install plug-ins in order to edit PSD files and work with RAW images, for example. For basic JPEG photo edits on a Windows machine, Paint.net might be your simplest, cheapest option. Anyway, it's free - why not?
In our Raw Converter Showdown earlier this year, Phase One’s Capture One Pro 7 emerged as the top pick for studio and fashion photographers thanks to its excellent support for tethered shooting, including in-application camera adjustments and live-view capabilities.
There are plenty of reasons for enthusiast photographers to consider this RAW-processing package, too though, including excellent organization tools, speedy performance, and a unique focus-peaking preview that helps you identify the sharpest shots in your batch of photos. Like Lightroom and DxO Optics Pro, it also offers an extensive selection of noise-reduction, lens-correction, color-correction, and custom-printing tools. If its relatively high cost gives you pause, you can always download a free trial version and see how you get on.
Pixelmator is another full-featured editing tool, and it’s probably a safer option for Mac users thanks to its user-friendliness. Pixelmator only runs on Mac OS X, and while it isn’t free, it's a bargain at $30 - and an even better bargain at its current (May 2013) sale price of $15.
Think of Pixelmator as the anti-GIMP in terms of interface: It’s easier to use and much easier on the eyes. For basic to semi-advanced image-editing needs (color correction, brushes, layers, masks, filters, text tools, and a content-aware healing tool), it has the bases covered. Like GIMP, it also supports editing PSD files, so you can work with any projects you’ve already started in Photoshop. You won’t get everything you’ll find in Photoshop, of course: It’s more restrictive in terms of scripting/automating tasks, color management, and RAW support; basically, you’ll need to make sure your camera’s RAW files are supported by Mac OS X itself (if you're running the latest version of OS X these updates are pretty frequent).
You won’t get RAW support with Pixlr, and you will need Adobe Flash to make it work. If those aren’t deal-breakers for you, this in-browser editor offers an impressive amount of image-editing power without the need to download, install, or pay for anything.
The Pixlr Editor offers the usual array of paint, blur, cropping, color-adjusting, and text tools, but you also have a context-aware spot-healing tool and an assortment of pre-set filters (HDR, tilt-shift, and color gradients among them) at your disposal. Along with the ability to open and edit PSD files (you can’t save as PSD, however), one of Pixlr Editor’s best features is its Google Drive integration. You can add Pixlr Editor to your list of connected Google Drive apps, allowing you to edit images from your Google Drive folder and save them to your Drive without ever leaving your browser.
Number 11 on our list (we know, we know...) is.... Adobe Photoshop. Kind of. Photoshop Elements 11 is the latest version of Adobe's cut-down version of 'full strength' Photoshop, and it's definitely the best yet. Traditionally, Elements was very much the poor cousin of its more expensive relatives, but over the past few years Adobe has been quietly and steadily adding to its feature set to the point where it's now a very powerful editing tool in its own right.
Although the interface (especially browsing) is different enough to be confusing for someone used to Photoshop CS6, Elements 11 contains almost all of the essential image browsing and manipulation features that photographers need. There are still limitations, but far fewer than there were in the past. For a breakdown of the differences between Elements and Photoshop CS6, this page on Adobe's help forums is pretty comprehensive.
Tim Moynihan is a freelance technology writer based in New York. After two years as Home Page and Features Editor at CNET, Tim joined PC world in 2007, and worked for six years as a senior editor for camera, camcorder and HDTV content.
Apr 29, 2016
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Mar 18, 2016
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The Everyday Sling might just be the perfect pack for not carrying too much gear, combining comfort with Peak Design's signature modern style.
When the Fujifilm X-T2 arrived, it was more than just a modest upgrade to the already impressive X-T1. While the new X-T3 hasn't changed the overall design of the camera, this model is way more than an upgrade; rather, it's a quantum leap.
The Movie Maker is a compact, motorized slider designed for phones, action cams and small mirrorless cameras. We think it's a fun little kit and a good value proposition for the cost, provided you can work around a few of its weak points.
Nikon's Z7 is the first camera to use the all-new Z-mount, the company's first new full-frame mount since 1959. We've put together our first impressions based on quality shooting time with a pre-production camera - check out what we've found.
What's the best camera for a parent? The best cameras for shooting kids and family must have fast autofocus, good low-light image quality and great video. In this buying guide we've rounded-up several great cameras for parents, and recommended the best.
What's the best camera for shooting landscapes? High resolution, weather-sealed bodies and wide dynamic range are all important. In this buying guide we've rounded-up several great cameras for shooting landscapes, and recommended the best.
What’s the best camera costing over $2000? The best high-end camera costing more than $2000 should have plenty of resolution, exceptional build quality, good 4K video capture and top-notch autofocus for advanced and professional users. In this buying guide we’ve rounded up all the current interchangeable lens cameras costing over $2000 and recommended the best.
|Abstract bokeh by Minas_Eye|
from Your City - Bokeh in the City (Rerun)
|Green Tree Frog by BruceRH|
|Custom Red Roadster by Mitchmeister|
from Car Shows 2018
At Sony's press conference at Photokina the company announced that 12 more E-mount lenses will be arriving over the next two years. In addition, the company is working to utilize artificial intelligence in its technologies, with one application being Eye AF trained to detect animal eyes.
Sigma has said it will create a full-frame Foveon camera and will adopt the Leica L mount for its system. It will be able to adapt or convert SA mount lenses to the L mount, for existing users.
Hasselblad is expanding their X System with their announcement of three new lenses: the XCD 80mm F1.9, XCD 65mm F2.8 and XCD 135mm F2.8, along with a teleconverter. The 80mm F1.9 is the fastest in the system. Get all the details and check out Hasselblad's official sample images here.
Sigma has announced the 56mm F1.4 DC DN lens for Micro Four Thirds and Sony E mounts. The compact 56mm lens becomes the sixth DN lens for mirrorless cameras and will make a handy portrait lens on both systems.
Sigma has announced the 28mm F1.4 Art, 40mm F1.4 Art, 70-200mm F2.8 Sport and 60-600mm F4.5-6.3 Sport lenses for several full frame lens mounts, including Canon, Nikon and, in the first two instances, Sony E.
ON1 has announced the impending launch of ON1 Photo RAW 2019. The new version, due out in November, brings a handful of new tools and features in a revamped interface.
Fujifilm has said it is developing a 100MP GFX medium format camera that will include both phase detection autofocus and in-body image stabilization. The 4K-capable camera will sell for around $10,000.
Leica has announced the S3 medium-format camera – an S2 successor with a 64MP sensor capable of 4K video.
The GFX 50R is a 50MP rangefinder-style mirrorless camera. It borrows heavily from the existing 50S model but in a smaller body and at a lower price. How does it differ?
Fujifilm has announced its GFX 50R, a rangefinder-styled version of the company's GFX 50S medium-format camera. The 'guts' of the two cameras are the same, with the difference being the design, weight and Bluetooth, all at a considerably lower price.
In this episode of DPReview TV, we get our hands on Fujifilm's GFX 50R which hides a medium-format sensor in a new, more compact body. Watch to get Chris and Jordan's first impressions on image quality, video and more.
Fujifilm is adding a trio of new medium-format lenses to its G-mount roadmap. GFX owners will soon be able to get their hands on 100-200mm F5.6, 45-100mm F4 and compact 50mm F3.5 lenses. Pricing and availability have not been announced.
Micro Four Thirds users will soon get a super fast, constant aperture wide angle zoom.
Panasonic has announced it is developing two full frame mirrorless cameras: the 47MP S1R and the 24MP S1. We've been shown fairly advanced-looking but non-functional prototype cameras, and have been able to squeeze a few details from Panasonic.
Panasonic is developing a pair of full-frame mirrorless cameras that use Leica's L-mount. The S1R will feature a 47MP sensor, while the S1 will be 24MP. Both cameras will support Dual IS shake reduction 4K/60p video capture and will have XQD and SD card slots.
Leica, Panasonic and Sigma are teaming up. Expect L-mount cameras from Panasonic as well as L-mount glass from Sigma.
Ricoh has announced the development of the GR III enthusiast compact, due to ship in early 2019. The camera gains sensor-shift image stabilization and an updated 24MP sensor with phase-detection. The 28mm equivalent F2.8 lens has also been redesigned and a touchscreen added.
The 'I'm Back' is now available for a range of old film-SLRs, such as Nikon's F-Series, the Olympus OM10 or the Canon AE-1.
IRIX has announced its latest lens, the 150mm F2.8 Macro 1:1. IRIX claims the lens features 'close to zero' distortion and stands out with its 150mm telephoto focal length.
The RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM is one of four lenses to launch with Canon's new full-frame mirrorless system, and it boasts the longest reach of the range. Take a look at some of the samples we've gathered thus far as our EOS R testing continues.
Nikon's Sendai factory in the Tōhoku region North of Japan has been churning out cameras and lenses since 1971. We had the opportunity recently to visit Sendai during events to mark the launch of Nikon's new Z mount.
There's no mistaking the Nikon Coolpix P1000 – with a 24-3000mm equivalent zoom, it really is in a class of its own. It's a conspicuous-looking superzoom with one main job: getting you really close to far away subjects. We've put together a gallery showing the kind of results you can expect from it.
A new report from The Verge claims Instagram is currently testing a feature that allows users to re-share posts to their own account feeds.
GoPro has announced its HERO7 camera lineup. The updated action cameras feature new HyperSmooth and TimeWarp modes, as well as improved video and photo specs.
The latest Samsung midrange smartphone offers a super-wide-angle lens in its triple-camera setup.
The Sony 24mm F1.4 is the latest lens to join the company's premium G Master lineup. We've been shooting with one for a couple of days - here's what you need to know.
Apple released iOS 12 a few days ago and some iPhone X users are less than happy with how the new operating system has made their phones look.
Camera bag manufacturer Lowepro has introduced mark II backpacks for its ProTactic AW range with models that are said to feature an improved handling experience as well as a collection of accessories that can be attached to the outside.
Canon has announced its latest superzoom camera, the PowerShot SX70 HS. Compared to the SX60 that came before it, the SX70 has the same lens but offers a higher resolution EVF, 4K video capture and support for Canon's new CR3 Raw format.
Cosina has announced its eighth lens designed specifically for Sony's E-mount system. The Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 lens is due out October 2018.