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Monday, 20 May 2013


The comments here, and that review you linked to, show a rather limited knowledge of what Photoshop is and does. It is a tool for graphics professionals. Photographers can get by with maybe 1% of these features, so finding a replacement is easily.

Not so if you need PSD and plug-in compatibility, alpha channel and 16-bit color support, CMYK mode, PANTONE support, color separations, RAW and EXIF, etc. The only product I know that does all this is one no-one ever mentions... Xara.

It also has many things Photoshop doesn't, like text and style layout, extensive draw and web tools, Flash support, full PDF import and export, and so on. You need to buy many other Adobe tools to match the features listed here:


Oh, and the price is one-tenth of Photoshop.

I don't use it myself. But I soon will, unless there's something even better.

Is there some reason everyone ignores Xara?

Mike I have been a Nikon user and used capture nx for two reasons the raw converter was far superior to anything else at the time and second it was a picture editor not a pixel editor, it worked more like a darkroom than all that layer crap. Sadly Nikon has not kept up well. The majority of my stuff starts and ends in dxo it's raw converter is stunning nothing to tweak . When I need to do local adjustments I move it to light room.. I bought cs6 on special but haven't used it at all. When dxo adds local adjustments I won't bother with anything else. It is truly remarkable .

...debating whether I should upgrade my Adams Retouching Machine by adding a second gooseneck magnifying glass.

FWIW, the development branch of GIMP now supports higher bit depths (16 and 32 bits per channel), so that particular longstanding limitation should be fixed in an upcoming release soon.


GIMP suffices for my needs but I can imagine that it still has too many loose ends (missing adjustment layers, I'm looking at you) for general professional use.

I should just mention that if Steve Jobs was still around, he would have seen this as a huge opportunity for Apple to sell more computers. I am sure he would have ordered his crew to create pro grade software for image manipulation, vector editing, and web design - for Mac only, of course.

Mike your comment about not getting comfortable with the software is spot on. It’s not just with Photoshop but with the majority of software that constantly goes through one update after another in a supposed effort to “enhance the user experience”. The analogy that I use is can you imagine if a carpenter’s hammer, saw, level, or measuring tape were updated every six months. How long would it take to build a house, and would you feel safe in it?

Actually (speaking as a UX professional), you shouldn't ever have to expect that the user interface gets pushed around every release. No one should. Past a certain point of maturity, software companies rearrange the user interface for a lot of reasons, but not necessarily for your benefit. Some common reasons:

1) A need to market the hot new feature.
2) Desire to provide the impression of advancement when there are no compelling features in a release (this happens a lot as a product matures. If you look at the history of software, shifting around the visual design is a surefire sign that a company feels features alone are not enough to maintain price points or drive upgrades)
3) The user community around software changes, and it requires the software to change or become irrelevant -- Photoshop started as more of a production tool for print/movies, it later adapted to web production, and now most enhancements aim to support evolving techniques in digital capture and post-processing.
4) efforts to drive customers to premium services (tier separation)

One final bit: when you move from a purchase to rental-utility model, as Adobe has done, you can expect different changes, but not necessarily more frequent "room shifting". Regardless of their pricing/value today, most software companies look admiringly to the sustained margins of your cable company or wireless company. Companies like that focus R&D on lower cost of operations, driving customers to higher pricing tiers, and the minimum other stuff necessary to stay competitive.


The creative suite is a very very mature set of programs. I have no doubt that this was a major line of Adobe reasoning in the decision to go subscription model and that in one of the board room meetings more than one senior manager at Adobe expressed concerns about about constantly trying to entice users into a software upgrade cycle with substantially "new and improved" features. Solution: make the suite a subscription – end of problem. Or so it would seem.

I"m no expert on computer hacking and piracy issues, but my sense is the piracy issue is a red herring as a compelling reason to move to a subscription model. If anything, Adobe's new hardened bunker mentality will invite more hackers to take a whack at breaking the fortress walls.

Adobe also suggests that the revenue model between the perpetual licensing and the new subscription model, at least for the faithful that bought every upgrade, was a wash. Yet when I look at what I paid to go from CS5 to CS6 and now what I will have to fork over monthly to stay with CC, I see my overall cost for access to Indesign, PS, and Acrobat ( the Adobe software I regularly use) roughly doubling. Am I missing something?

Lastly, the upgrade treadmill is not just about monetary payments to the gatekeeper. Even if money were no object, upgrading is painful because it's always a juggling act trying to keep mission critical software and hardware components all happy and playing nice together while different vendors follow different upgrade cycles. My biggest concern with the new Adobe paradigm is that Adobe's subscription model will make upgrade hell even worse for quite some time before it gets better. The only sane way in today's world to navigate this ongoing technical obsolescence mess for both software and hardware is for the enduser to assess on his or her own terms when is the right time to make various upgrade moves. Adobe apparently thinks we won't mind if this very challenging aspect of life in the digital age is entrusted even more to Adobe. I'm very skeptica. I hope I will be proven wrong as this new "cloud computing" era takes hold, but I fear it's likely to be two steps forward, three steps back, at least for the foreseeable future.

I have bit the bullet and purchased a year’s worth of Creative Cloud.

I actually welcome this system. I understand there might be teething pains, and I’m sure to grow a few white hairs dealing with service, but it seems every aspect of life has this problem nowadays.

Will Adobe raise prices after the year is up? I assume so, for my own sake and sanity. It’s up to me to justify the expense, which is still cheaper than buying a whole boxed suite. When I compare it to an Autodesk Flame or an Avid system, the price is cheap.

Will I have problems with Adobe authentication? Sure, I expect so. Why? I have had problems with google, gmail, facebook, hotmail and yahoo, too. This is a fact of life now.

Am I concerned about privacy? Not really. I don’t have to upload my files to the cloud if I don’t want to. But if I want to, I can, which sounds cool. The Adobe Anywhere idea sounds cool.

Am I locked in to Adobe? Yes and no. It’s a business, not a marriage. If I earn my money with Adobe, I can continue the business.

Do I trust Adobe? No. I’ve used Adobe since the beginning of my career 12 years ago. I know it like the back of my hand, but I don’t trust them. Why should I? It’s just a tool. If it doesn’t work, I’ll move on. As far as I’m concerned I’m taking an acceptable risk. Actually, all things considered, it’s not risky at all.

Will the software work? I hope so. Even an installed boxed version can develop snags. That’s why there is tech support. Will they help? Maybe, if you make a hundred calls. Factor that into your head before you begin, and it will seem okay. It’s out of my control, so why worry about it?

I can use it on my mac and pc, and any other system I want, as long as I don’t use it at the same time. I have no clue how Adobe will know I’m using it at the same time. Maybe they don’t, but if they catch you they might terminate the agreement. That’s a risk they’re taking, which seems like a big risk.

All things considered, I think it will work out for me. Adobe has always delivered, so I have no cause for concern. Will it end in disaster? If yes, so what? My office could burn down, I might meet with an accident, or my clients might stop answering my calls. There are bigger problems in life than software.

Here's my first impressions report: http://wolfcrow.com/blog/adobe-creative-cloud-first-impressions-also-how-do-you-get-started/

Wow... I'd written an entire post about my 20+ year history with Photoshop, first as a professional retoucher, and now as a software interface designer, and then (sadly) realized my experience doesn't make a whit of a difference to T.O.P. or any of it's readers. I'm just a guy who never gets lost in Photoshop!

However, I've also worked for small, medium, and gigantic (7000+ employees) software companies and been in discussions about "subscriptionware" for a long time, both around the water cooler and in the conference room. (But I've never worked for Adobe.) The key reason for the "Creative Cloud" is not piracy, or increasing profits, or even lower distribution costs (although those are gigantic sources of cost and benefit). It's conforming to the expectations of the current and future generations of consumers.

How many young adults today think they are "buying music to own" on their iPods, or "buying books to own" on their Kindle? Mike, you could ask Xander if he is aware that he can't resell that content or (legally) convert them to a future format or player. He's probably both aware, and equally unconcerned. His generation is driving this change, just like that consumer generation of the late 70's drove digital computing away from mainframes and dumb-terminals, and into our homes in the form of Commodore's and Apple II's, and other "personal computers."

What is decried as "unthinkable commercial suicide" for a software company today, will be "standard operating procedure" tomorrow. Digital delivery via the internet was always only the first step. File storage (for everything), even your entire OS, is slated to be moved to "the cloud" in short order, and it will be subscription-only. But don't worry, you won't be dragged, kicking and screaming into this "dumb-terminal future." It will simply happen, with the full support of hardware makers (and eventually lawmakers), and we will all either adapt, or stop using these things. Don't think so? Go ask those precious few professional photographers who still shoot film for their paying jobs...

BTW, I think the phrase "dumb-terminal future" is loaded with various meanings! (As Roger Waters intoned in The Wall; "isn't this where we came in?")

I work on an enterprise software product. Our product has a pretty small number of big customers who pay an annual license fee. That fee pays for ongoing development, including support for customer requirements and also maintenance. We fix defects, not in the next release, but on a timetable, downloadable. Their businesses rely on the product and if something goes wrong, phone support is there. It makes sense.
Adobe seems like that's where they want to be. Guaranteed revenue to take the risk out of things. And maybe for commercial operations, it makes sense. (The cost is low enough that it doesn't much matter if it doesn't). But for the rest of us, it doesn't. We're being asked to fund development of things we may not want. Like many, I've upgraded infrequently. I'm on CS5 now (upgraded from CS2) and have no use for anything in CS6. Occasionally, a valuable feature pops up (I thought context aware fill would be great, but I haven't had much luck with it), but mostly, we want hardware & OS support and raw file handling (though I rely on Lightroom for raw conversions and go out to PS after converstion). That's the problem for mature applications.
We've been using Quicken for many years. I remember Quicken 98 being a great product. Since then, they've added lots of fluff, changed the interface in very annoying ways, and basically turned a nice, sleek application into bloatware. And I've had to fund some of that by being forced to upgrade ever few years in order to keep downloading transactions from financial institutions. It's basically a time bomb. Yes, you paid for a perpetual license, but this important (to some) function will cease to work on mm/dd/yy unless you upgrade.
What Intuit doesn't want to face is that there's really nothing more that needs to be added. No need to keep paying however many people they're paying, because the horse is dead. OS currency and bug fixes doesn't need a big development staff.
So for me, I'll use Lightroom as I've been doing (upgrading from LR3 to LR5 thank you !) I'll CS5 for my rare needs, until it no longer works for me. And then I'll worry about finding something that does whatever Lightroom doesn't do.

No doubt the price of admission is going up. I use Photoshop almost every day. I stay current with upgrades. PS is an excellent product. It is a professional's tool, I'll pass the cost increase to my customers.

Photographers should take a hard look at Photo Ninja from Picture Code (http://www.picturecode.com/). It is still in V1.x, but the results look real on a consistent basis. Great photo editor and exceptional RAW converter.

The suggestion above applies in general and not only to those thinking about leaving the Adobe platform...

It's enough to make to make me go back to film.

But if you want to escape the endless stream of annoying changes you really have one choice: don't use software

There is another choice. Don't bother with the upgrades and continue using the version you have.

Nobody's likely to get this far down the page but here goes anyway. I'm running CS3 on a Win 7 PC. Which says something about compatibility. For RAW processing I use LR4. CS3 I really only need for layers/compositing. Why "upgrade"?

As for substituting CS6 with DxO (in itself excellent although I've only tried the evaluation copies a couple of times) - uh? RAW processors and manipulation applications are almost (almost) completely different beasts.

So, for anyone who currently uses CS (any version) on a PC that runs it OK just stick with that combination for as long as the hardware survives. Buy a KVM switch and you can use the PC whenever you need CS(n). In any case it's quite likely that your version will run on future OSs (I have no idea about Crapintoshes in this respect.)

A friend, who used to use lots of pirated software, once mentioned Photoshop as a case of software that was trivially easy to find 'for free'. His opinion was that it was a deliberate move from Adobe: by making it easy to get a pirated copy of PS, people too poor (or cheap) to pay retail price would NOT go to cheaper/free/open source alternatives, depriving those projects of cashflow, developers and audience.

Hmmm, I am on CS2 is there really a CS6 out
allready!??! And have not used mine this year yet. I do all my photo stuff in Lightroom for a reasonable price, and i do not do collage (yes I said COLLAGE!)
The power user uses it and pays for it. All other users don`t need photoshop as a matter of survival of the business.
If you enjoy it and have the money you will pay if not so sorry. I think people are not understanding that Photoshop is a software from a company that makes money on it it is not a natural good that everyone should have access to. It is like that, me wanting a Ferrari does not mean that Ferraris should be cheaper, I don`t have the money I don`t buy it it is that simple in this world of ours.
Unfortunately the photoshop has a lot of hype around it but there are alternatives.

If I were on Windows again, I'd still be using Picture Windows Pro, but I don't earn my living taking pics

On MAC, I use Aperture (99%) and Pixelmator. Pixelmator will eventually go 16-bit, a matter of time I'm sure. I am just guessing, based on interweb talk, that Photoshop will lose a segment of their market. I suspect the programmers at all those other software makers now have that much more incentive to beef up their products.

This is a more general issue though. What's the world's backup to Google? Sooner or later, they will hire a wacko as CEO, who will run the place into the ground. Then what? Same with many other computer tools. Shake-ups happen all the time in all industries, but with computers, when they go, they take OUR work with them because our content is not exactly portable the way our luggage is.

And they're still at it …

I wrote this many moons ago now:

"I won't bore everybody with the figures - those who want to can just try visiting their respective Adobe sites and check the corresponding rip-offs concerning ALL PRODUCTS, against the US site - I'll just say that I've been grilling Adobe over this for some 5 years now and they've not bothered to do anything about it. I've told them time and again that their stupidity foments illegal downloading of their products to such an extent that I bet if Photoshop cost just a hundred dollars and everybody in the world who uses it had paid for it they'd be making more of a profit.
Only conclusion: they're great software artists but complete idiots when it comes to selling the stuff. "

The idiots are still there it seems ...

I use SilkyPics for my Pana bodies (reduced to a LX3) and DxO for my Olympus OM-D (because the lads and lasses at Oly don't seem to be able to correct CA using a lens profile, though there lenses sure are able to produce it :-)).

For drastic color stuff I use RAWTherapee that also works on .TIF files (which are 16 bit in my case).

Then for drastic retouche I use Gimp.....with GPS II (Gimp Paint Studio) and G'Mic installed (and some other nifty plugins). Now Mike I'm using Gimp since the last century and I have seen update, over update (every 2 years a new version) and I must say I have never felt not at home straight away (although version 3.0 could do with the 2.6 file dialog). When my dad upgraded from PS Elements 7 to 8 he was completely lost. Same when he updated from 8 to 9 etc. Reason being thet some functionality was lost, others was added (probably commercial reasons). I was willing and able to upgrade to CS4 but simply decided against it because of the way PS Elements worked (organised my dads photofiles for instance sort of hiding there true location from me). I'm a 100% nerd and I like to be in control of my computer and I would like to know on which drive and in which directory my files are stored, Elements hid that from me (mostly) and I always had to search on my dad's computer when I wanted to copy a file or whatever. Horrible.

Greets, Ed.

a gentleman I met through a photography forum with whom I became friends, was very interested in copying my software, be it PS5 at the time, LR3, etc. He even wanted to copy the disks I used to get from Luminous Landscape. He fast became an ex-friend. I believe developers of software, writers of all kinds deserve to be paid for their work.

Here's an angle I hadn't thought of until just now: With the "Creative Cloud" model, users aren't just dependent on Adobe to validate their software every month, they're dependent on their connectivity itself. From now on, any government (think China, North Korea, etc.) that doesn't want their citizens to use Photoshop can prevent them from doing so. Not a big deal for a specialized application like Photoshop? Perhaps. But if this business model is successful it is likely to spread to other software, which would have widespread repercussions far beyond inconvenient forced upgrades and higher prices.

Cost alone decides it for me. I've upgraded every version since PS4.0,about every two years on average, at a cost of say $190 or about $8 per month. Now I'm supposed to pay $20 per month (this year, who knows how much in the future)?

No way. I bought the CS6 upgrade, I think it will do me for a long time unless Adobe sabotages it. I like some of the things they did in CS5 and 6 but I could easily have gotten along without them and I'm pretty sure I can get along without the constant upgrades Adobe plans to make in CC.

I've spent hundreds of hours over the years reading, watching videos, attending workshops, buying books, etc. to get to my present knowledge of Photoshop. I'm not about to use some other program unless there's absolutely no choice.

One of the main reasons I use Photoshop rather than Lightroom or any other program, is that I make greeting cards and I need to be able to lay text layers on the images.

Australian here:

Pirating photoshop? I see no problem with it.

Adobe have been taking us for a ride for YEARS, gouging like us like a blunt chisel. Here's a link: http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2013/02/dont-believe-the-adobe-price-cut-hype-its-still-gauging-you-silly/

For those who do not want to click: the price of CS6 for Australians is $1735 MORE than the US.

"Well, now," someone is about to say, inevitably, "Your dollar cannot be as powerful as the Mighty Greenback, and you're not living in the glorious Free Market and Low Tax paradise of the US - what with your socialist Minimum Wage levels and taxes."

Wrong. That price is for the *digital download* of CS6 - the cost of which does not change no matter where the customer is in the world. It's purely a gouge.

No taxes, no higher rents or wages to pay, no tariffs, fees or stamp duties. Nada. And for the last few years, the US dollar and AU dollar have been practically interchangeable in terms of value.

So, stuff Adobe. Pay for photoshop? Well, the Aussie who did have.

Twice over.

Suggestions for alternatives to Photoshop are all well and fine, but from the comments here and elsewhere, it's clear that many people don't need Photoshop at all. They "get it right in camera" or only need the tools found in less capable applications like Lightroom or DxO, etc. Many or most of those people left Photoshop long ago or they're using old versions. I'm not sure why these people are paying for Photoshop if much less expensive tools will suffice. (Mike, I suspect this describes you.)

But their advice is irrelevant to those of us who need and use Photoshop's most powerful tools. I use PS daily and I use it hard. I do some compositing, I use masks and adjustment layers, I find that the content-aware tools can work miracles for clean-up. History Brush. Spot-Healing Brush. Sophisticated blur tools. And are dozens of smaller, subtler refinements that I count on (Refine Selection!) that I suspect don't exist elsewhere. I could go on and on.

I don't want to lose Photoshop. And if it were just a matter of price, I could probably bite the bullet. (The total yearly price will more than double for me.) It sucks, but what's the alternative?

But I seriously worry about the high penalty for quitting the subscription.

As it stands now, every Photoshop file I've ever created can be opened with CS6, and I expect that to be true for quite a while (until Apple releases an OS incompatible with CS6). Until the subscription model was announced, I would have expected to have the option of paying a one-time upgrade price to continue to have access to all my PS files through the latest version of PS. (My average upgrade price over the years has been about $223 every 20 months or so.)

But the subscription model doesn't allow for that kind of reassurance. I either pay the monthly fee or Adobe deactivates PS and and all my image files are no longer available. (Can't I open PS files in another application like GIMP? Maybe, maybe not. GIMP may not even exist a few years from now.)

The day will come when I'm running a system that will not launch CS6, and I will want to stop paying Adobe a monthly fee. At that point, I'm hosed.

Just a few things:

Everyone on here that says, humorously, to go back to film, has said it as far as I'm concerned, if I wasn't marketing myself as a professional photographer, I wouldn't be doing digital AT ALL! If I get another creative services management job, I won't be doing digital AT ALL for myself, just film anyway...so +1 for them! Understanding what digital software can do so you can admin it, and people on it, doesn't mean you have to be a user yourself.

You can make a case, over all software development, that near useless incremental changes have been made, specifically to sell you a new copy or upgrade, so why change, especially if they change it's screen and operations system, so you feel like you're paying for something "new".

I still know people using PhotoShop 9!

PhotoShop was never a photographers software, if it was, it would have contrast read-outs in grades and density read-outs in stops. Film editing people used to comment to me all the time that film editing software used the exact analog terminology for editing, that was in use. PhotoShop was always designed by engineers, for pre-press people. I went through a time where I tried to religiously keep up with all the developments, and then realized, this has a little to do with actual photography as knowing the changing color chemistry components in the E-6 process. In other words...none.

When I shoot digital for a job, I pay a color service, or a "digital wrist" to make my conversions from RAW, the same way I use to pay my color printer in the 70's and 80's, who knew the kind of face hues I liked. There's people that LIKE to spend time on a computer, and don't have any knowledge or skill of chatting subjects up, multi-point and source lighting, metering, and hitting the "decisive moment". Let them do your work. If the computer process takes 60% of the time in your photographic world, you're not a photographer, you're something else. Photo-Artist? Photo-Based-Illustrator? Photo-Based Computer Geek....Hmmm....

PhotShop is so ubiquitous, that I've lost management jobs during interviews, by saying I've "used PhotoShop in the past, but use alternative software today, as do most photographers." The HR stiff only knows that the department head told them the candidate must pre proficient in PhotoShop, even tho it isn't their job to use the thing...

There are plenty of programs to use that are fine and encompass everything I want to do in photography. The camera company supplied software is one of them. If you're lightening, darkening, changing contrast and hue, cropping, etc., all that is available in the camera software, and may actually give you a better file. Someone did a study of PhotoShop vs. camera company software for reading RAW files, and the camera companies software proved superior most of the time.

Most Pros in my area, especially those that work day-rate "pick-up" at the local catalog houses, have always used Capture One, it's what the big "houses" use, and so it's what they bought for their own studios. So there are alternatives that are used wide spread in the industry...

I'm never paying a monthly fee for any program, and I don't like cloud computing. I don't want to have an internet connection every time I want to do something, and in fact, half my computers have no internet connection at all; they're meant to be used with no connections.

Good luck to Adobe, but I actually quit using the thing years ago.

To John Camp's point about LR and subscription service: Adobe would already be doing it if there wasn't competition in it's market segment. PS is the best at what it does and is without equal for second party plugin support. With that lack of competitors they can extort their once happy customers into the "rent to not own" system.

Adobe might see it this way:

Number of CC subscribers to date: 500,000+

Number of signers on the change.org anti-subscription petition: 23,000

That's more than 20:1. With this new model Adobe may not be losing as many paying customers as it might seem from reading the online forums--not if there's as much pirating going on as some commenters say.

P.S. One commenter recommended xara.com (Windows only). I had never heard of it, but from their website it looks very capable and the more expensive version ($300) claims to have full PSD support. Any other photographers out there with Xara experience?

i use cs2 at my work as a pre-press photo editor for a national daily newspaper - in no way i feel this "old" version is holding me back from achieving anything.
the upgrade doctrine seem to have washed everyone's mind with growing hysteria.
95 percent of almost every photo editing task can be easily done with the most basic tools - curves, brushes, layers.

And another thing - who decided to use that sickly yellow and brown for the CS6 Bridge icon?

Adobe is creating an opening for Google (which has recently acquired Nik) to develop a full featured replacement for Photoshop. It might be called Picasa.

Just a couple years ago I still had students, usually older but not always, who were terrified of using a computer, let alone trying to use Photoshop. Doesn't really matter any more because I see photography moving away from the desktop/laptop + Photoshop to a post-photoshop world. The Scott Kelbys of the world may soon find themselves no more relevant than those of us photographers who still remember the development times for Tri-X in Acufine.

I'm ok with the montly fee, but there's no way in hell I'm keeping all my work on Adobe's cloud.
Maybe I'm being paranoid, but that doesn't mean they'not out to get me.

My work spread comprises, Photoshop CS3, Capture One Pro 6, Aperture 3, Photo Mechanic, with a little Raw Developer for Mac OSX. My last software purchase was the Nik suite of developers for Aperture. I tend to work in raw then finish in jpeg. The simple work around will be to get a copy of Lightroom and finish off in my current version of Photoshop. No big deal, there will be a Photoshop alternative for slow upgraders like me eventually. Indeed it might become Aperture.

I agree that using whatever version of Photoshop you have now for as long as it remains functional on your operating system means that there is time to consider the future route one wants to take. I do disagree somewhat, however, that there's no rush to worry about it. The longer we work with our Adobe software, the more work gets produced that will need to be migrated (with varying degrees of success to be sure) to whatever program will be used moving forward. So I believe it is important to start considering now what this change means for each of us, even if we're not sure what the answer is yet.

I know I will not be subscribing and am reasonably confident I can find a Photoshop alternative for the limited ways in which I use the program. My bigger concern is what happens to Lightroom down the road. Adobe says that LR perpetual licensing will continue for the foreseeable future but we don't know how long that really means and I can't say I really trust Adobe anymore.

For photographers your best alternative is Lightroom, Aperture, or Capture One. If you go with DXO you'll need to get an asset management program like Photomechanic. DXO lacks the cataloging and asset manage options of the others mentioned.

LR4: Overall the best of the bunch. Pretty good at just about everything.

Capture One: 2nd best only because it lacks cataloging and publishing features in LR4.

DXO: 3rd best because it can be amazing and frustrating at the same time. Struggles with shadow recovery but excels at sharpness, detail, and color from RAW. Also has no catalog or publishing features and is not suited to be your only editing software.

Aperture: 4th best because it just needs and update badly. You won't get the detail, noise, or shadow recovery of LR. Otherwise, the handling and controls are great.

There are a few things being asserted that are not true, especially regarding access to work. Photoshop not being active on your system mean you can't edit PSD files, but it does not block your ownership of them.

Lightroom is a standalone product, so there's no risk of you being locked out of your library(yet). There is an argument to using Lightroom and plugins, and then Photoshop on demand. It would stink, yes, but if you truly only use Photoshop sparingly, 20 bucks every few months isn't horrible. Annoying, certainly, but so is a dry darkroom, and lord knows how many folks put up with that.

Another problem is that while there are many image editors out there, there's simply nothing as polished, with as clean output, as Photoshop. Pixelmator and Acorn use core OS effects in their image processing, and while those are not bad, they are no where near as polished as Photoshop on a pixel by pixel basis.

I've used PS since 3.0 and now I'm on the latest CC version. I think that the current interface is better than the previous ones and well worth the additional familiarization. That said, I completely understand that familiarization with a new interface is not usually fun and more like time lost.

In a DPReview interview, Adobe hinted that piracy isn't an issue in this move and the more I think about it, the more I tend to believe them. I don't see how subscription per se could end piracy, after all it just takes a talented individual to override license checks in the software and distribute a new version. Now it's harder than faking the keys, but can be done.

What comes to pricing, standalone versions here in the north of Europe cost and arm and a leg, but CC doesn't. Everyone I've talked to that actually get income using PS went over to CC a while back. Granted, I can't say that my sampling is representative, but cost calculations support this in typical cases. Personally, I have no need to own a box of software, especially since it doesn't even come with source code. Software gets old and there will be new alternatives. I'm not worried that my work would somehow be inaccessible due to PS disappearing.

Finally, it was funny that you posted the DPReview "10 alternatives" link when just the other day I thought the article is so bad it's not even worth mentioning. Basically, my problem with it is that it doesn't offer any critical analysis, just rough descriptions and the listed pieces of software differ greatly in capabilities. What I did before my last photo software acquisition was to round up candidates, download demo versions and put in a few hours of work trying them out. That really gave many useful insights.

And my last acquisition? It ended up being Lightroom, although Capture One and Bibble Pro ended up very close and today I might well end up with Capture. I now spend most of my photo editing time in Lightroom, so it makes sense to select carefully (and Photoshop is not the best hammer for all jobs).

Photoshop is like butter. There is no substitute.

Which reminds me. I need to get the software updated on my darkroom timer.

@James Moule,

Does anybody here is familiar with the frase SOC...Summer of Code. Google sponsors the development of Open Source software via this:


page. It all cuts both ways off course, Gimp, Blender and what not, can have students working on pesky problems during their summer, the students gain work experience and market credibility and Google gains some (deserved) praise for doing this, but also some insight in the latest do and don'ts of software development. And as a result programs like Blender and Gimp have become real alternatives to programs like Maya and Photoshop. Not that they work as fast (or as reliable) and personally I wouldn't always wanna use them in a high stress environment, but in the right, capable hands these programs sure can deliver (btw, Gimp can do all masking tricks needed).

Greets, Ed.

The gaming industry has already adopted the model of "let's release an unfinished product and we can release the rest later as an additional cost - we'll call it DLC (downloadable content)". No doubt the software industry will do the same.

I guess I must be in the minority but I DON'T have unlimited free internet access, software of any kind needing internet access COSTS me money. I DON'T have unlimited CPUs/RAM so all these programs which install their mandatory update checkers DO reduce my computers performance. I DON'T live in America (which Americans generally forget they are a minority on this planet) yet the phone home parts of software tend to be back to America, which is slow to download from and any network problems tend to cause these programs to lock up while they retry in the background.

I've already ditched several major apps which have gone in this direction and my playstation is gone. I don't care about who makes the software, I care about it being the right tool for my needs and a good tool needs to be one that can be depended upon. It needs to be there when I need it and perform as expected. The online model has reduced the dependability for me for other packages which I had to drop because I just couldn't work when, where and how I wanted to.

I don't see Photoshop being the tool for me beyond my current CS6. It's not unique enough and there are many other tools that cover my needs.

Looking through most of these comments -- there's one thing that most people are forgetting: it's on a computer, so it's only a matter of time that it will be hacked. I'm not sure if that was the main reason for moving it to the cloud, it was mainly for revenue reasons.


There should be millions of users of PSP ((Photoshop Pirated) in the world. I am just guessing that Adobe has a lot to gain from this. If i am a monopoly like how PS is, i actually get to benefit from piracy...so many get hooked to it, not being able to even look at any other software or interface at all. Its like a drug. Because so many are freely using it, its a monopoly. Let them be strict about it and they will find that people will find alternatives. I will say that PS has remained a monopoly despite being so expensive is because of piracy. Its free advertising for them, sort of free sampling. They perhaps know that, i always thought, but maybe not, as the new move makes me wonder...

What Greg Roberts said in the very first comment applies to me too.

I am sure, generally speaking, most photographers are honest, and perhaps Adobe should view that piracy as an "extended trial"!

Who needs Photoshop when you've got Instagram?

Gimp for graphical editing (layers, lots of local adjustment), Darktable for raw work (it has pretty nice usefull additional modules like Zone system and several others for B&W work), Imagemagick library for scripting (scripts for resizing/scaling,rotating, sharping batch of photos with full control comes first to mind). Oh yeah, all of them are free of charge :)

Photoshop was/is originally designed for print publication editing, taking pixel-level manipulation and getting it right for high end copy.

Guess what? That market is stalled or shrinking and is outright almost disappearing in some markets.

Adobe is passing on to users of PS the cost to replace revenues from this market. It is the rising cost of demand against shrinking supply. This is not about piracy but about maintaining a revenue stream for a product that depends on a shrinking market.

This is a model that assumes that the creative cloud products are used in profitable studios, where each "seat" is turning much more than $50/month in profit. For such businesses, the cloud products are not expensive. But...

What happens to students? What happens to art photographers who produce under 100 prints a year? Heck, what happens to young artists just scraping along, or even a pro shop that hits a bad patch? Sorry--we can only afford one license--it all goes to this one desk? It used to be one could save up for used equipment. Sometimes one would find an old camera or enlarger or lens at an exceptionally good price. And one bought it, and one owned it. With this business model that's all gone. Adobe has enormously raised the barrier between professional and amateur, and even successful pro and less successful pro.

Matters are much worse, I suspect, for pro artists who use Illustrator, and book designers who use InDesign.

As a small publisher, I'm horrified at what this is going to do to publishing workflows. Every damn cheap-ass product, all incompatible with the the pro publishing workflow, is going to get a huge boost.

Ah, well. Adobe may find reasons to reconsider. I hope so.

I delayed comment, since those opposed to the subscription have already expressed most of my concerns and objections. Yet, I feel the need to state that IF any part of Adobe's decision making process involved the assumption that us lowly amateurs don't really need 16-bit editing, curves, local editing, and layers all in the same package anyway, then it might want to consider that many of tomorrow's pros are today's hobbyists.

As such, wouldn't it befit Adobe to suck photographers into the system as early as possible rather than to just cater to existing professionals (or at least the ones who find the new plan economically feasible) at the expense of everyone else? Maybe I'm wrong; never was a businessperson.

Anyway, I have Photoshop CS6, and hopefully I will be able to use this for several more years, perhaps keeping a legacy computer and OS for the sole purpose of sustaining its usability. But if I need to upgrade, I will certainly be looking at alternatives more seriously. So a request for all other image editing software producers, there's a good possibility that within the next five to six years, a glut (even greater than now) of prospective customers could be flooding the market; so let's bolster what you've got.

I'm not an enterprise or a corporation, so the money I've given Adobe for PS probably doesn't mean that much for them. I've never used a pirated copy. I started with version 2.5, purchased in a discounted bundle with my firs Mac. I soon upgraded to version 3, and then was basically going with every second upgrade: to 5, to 7, cs3, and then cs5. I recently changed this pattern and got cs6. Two reasons. Adobe had announced that upgrade pricing changes that discouraged skipping a version, and I recently purchased two cameras whose raw files couldn't be processed in the latest, last ACR versions for CS5. I do have a licensed Lightroom, but opted to pay more to upgrade PS rather than Lightroom, because I'm more comfortable doing everything within the PS environment. The additional features in CS6 were far from must-haves. I don't use or need Lightroom for cataloging because I use Photomechanic. I feel Adobe has jerked me around, and I don't trust that they will upgrade ACR in CS6 for as long as they imply. I am now really happy that NIK has always provided plug-in compatibility with Lightroom and Aperture, so that if I have to make a change from PS, I will have options. In my non-photographic life, I deal with governmental forms that need Acrobat; I am worried that Adobe will take a similar approach with Acrobat in the future. Instead of writing this rant, I should be writing the Canadian government to call on them to reconsider this approach.


robin: I can now begin ignoring Xara, having just now heard of it.

Except, having looked at the web page, I don't think I do actually want to ignore it. Especially since the cheap version (currently on special offer even cheaper) has the better photo features.


Something that I don't think has been mentioned so far is the collective effect on the photography community.

PS is a sort of 'lingua franca' for the majority of photographers - it's how we exchange post processing info both at the amateur level (through forums etc.) and professional level. Sure, you can talk in general terms about curves, colour balance and so on and an experienced user can translate the concepts from one package to the other ... but that's like having a conversation via Google Translate.

I learned PS deeper capabilities through the vast amount of online help and examples available. If CC leads to a fragmentation of this community - and there certainly are viable alternatives - what happens to the pool of common knowledge?

Furthermore, what will 3rd party developers do? Currently you have to be PS compatible with your code to succeed - and of course the huge PS user base is an incentive to develop new code. A fragmented market can not be beneficial.

Yes there are numerous alternatives, and possibly some that might suit a particular individual better than PS. But we could be heading for a photographic Tower of Babel.



One thing this decision by Adobe has accomplished is to bring visibility to alternatives to Photoshop, many of which I'd never heard of before. Some of them appear quite capable. I'm sure many of Adobe's competitors are smiling ear to ear right now.

if you cannot afford the $20 per month for simply the photoshop subscription, then there is something wrong with your business model.

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