Blog by Wisconsinart
A common question photographers ask is which photo editing software is best. Well-known applications are Photoshop, Gimp, and Affinity Photo. Factors are a combination of cost, level of editing functions needed, and to some degree, personal preference.
Virtually everyone is familiar with Photoshop and many dislike the subscription fee though it can be as low as $9.99/month. Photoshop is extremely powerful and even high-level professionals do not need or use everything the software is capable of. Having a multitude of functions at your fingertips is an enticing reason for getting Photoshop because you never know when you might need to take advantage. However, the $9.99/month can be a lot for the casual photographer.
The advantage to Affinity Photo is while it’s not as robust as Photoshop, it still is a powerful image editing package. The price is more than reasonable and it’s a one-time purchase. There is also an even lower-cost version that runs on an iPad. Affinity Photo can open Photoshop files so if someone sends you a PSD file, you will be able to open it and edit.
Gimp is an open-source application and free of charge, there is no cost to use it. It’s regularly updated, mostly by volunteer programmers. Gimp is extremely popular, primarily because of the cost and it is capable of performing professional-grade editing.
For the majority of photographers, either Affinity Photo or Gimp will suffice if cost is an issue. However, cost is not the only factor for choosing software. The time it takes to learn a complicated software package can also be considered an investment. Working with layers and performing high-level edits along with other advanced features can take years to learn. Photoshop has been around for decades and is considered to be the premier application among professionals, so it stands to reason that it will be around for a long time. Many software applications have succumbed to Microsoft products which has forced individuals and companies to start over when their software of choice was no longer available.
You also have to consider the support that is available. The internet has a virtually unlimited supply of tutorials on how to use photo editing software. There also are many different forums where users can ask questions and get help. As you may have guessed, most of these resources are going to be geared towards Photoshop. Finding a way to do something in other software packages or get an answer to a question may prove to be difficult for non-Photoshop products.
In addition, many universities and colleges have evening or weekend courses for Photoshop. Formal classroom training can be beneficial for many by having an expert user providing guidance and you can learn from other students by seeing what they’re doing and learning from the questions of others. Again, the advantage with these options is toward Photoshop.
In professional settings, Photoshop is going to be the norm. If you have aspirations for your photography to generate any kind of income or to work in settings with other professionals, you will need to speak the language of Photoshop.
As you can see, the advantages are great for going with Photoshop. Regardless, Photoshop is still not right for everyone. Affinity Photo and Gimp provide professional-level photo editing and if you’re a photographer who is not looking to move to higher plateaus, then a non-Photoshop product will be more cost-effective. This is a subject that is endlessly argued on the internet, but in the end, Affinity Photo and Gimp are the better products to use for certain individuals. But there is another option, too. Photoshop has a product called Photoshop Elements which is similar to Photoshop but is less powerful in what it can do. It can be purchased for a one-time fee. If you want to stay in the Photoshop world then this fourth option might be something to consider.
Photo credits: Wisconsinart.