Adobe Photoshop is not a free product. Perhaps because it is such a good image editing tool and such an important software to support photographer, many are looking for free or cheap options to get it. The first and most obvious possibility is to download the evaluation version from the Adobe website (nearly all Adobe products exist in free trial versions that can be downloaded immediately). It is limited in time, but you can get your feet wet.
Limitations of The Gimp:
- Plug-ins and scripts are not compatible with Photoshop’s, no 8BF filters,
- does not support 16, and 32-bit per-channel images,
- does not support Pantone colors, has limited CMYK support,
- no adjustment layers and limited text blending options,
- coarse programming features.
Now, if you can’t stand sticking to an evaluation and you want the full glory of a photo editor, you may want to look into The Gimp, the photo editor which originated on GNU-Linux, and is now available on most platforms including PC-Windows and Apple Mac. There are a few limitations, but who would complain when the price is so low? The Gimp is free. You just have to download. No payment. No fee.
Limitations of Photoshop Elements:
- Does not support 32-bit per-channel images, and limited edit functions in 16-bit,
- no CMYK or LAB support,
- limited support for masks (alpha channels),
- does not have most advanced color management options,
- no HDR tool,
- most equivalent tools are simpler than their Photoshop CS counterparts.
Furthermore, Adobe also has a tuned down version of Photoshop under the moniker of Photoshop Elements. It is not a free product either, but it comes free with quite a number of graphics-related devices. For example, it is not uncommon to find it bundled with a Point-and-Shoot camera or with a paper scanner. Its limitations are perceivable if you do a lot of graphic design, but most photographers will find it perfectly usable since it allows all the basic image manipulation.
But Adobe is not the only provider of this kind of technology. Recognizing an industry trend toward delivering software solutions online, some companies created photo-editing tools that are accessible online (on a web site). You upload your image to the web site, the application looks and feels a lot like Photoshop, but it is actually a Java or a Flash program that is run directly in your web browser.
At first, you would think that this is a pretty complex application to implement in a browser. But the reality is that the actual capacity of Java software borders on the limitless (did I write this?) and the results can be quite impressive.
Refer to my previous post titled “Online photo editors” for some good examples.
If we stick to Adobe, we also have to remember that they did not let this kind of competition unchallenged. Their own online offering is free too. It’s named Adobe Photoshop Express .
Obviously, Adobe decided that there was a possibility to stratify their offering from (full-fledged) Adobe Photoshop, down to free Photoshop Express. Apparently, most of the competition is thinking about offering a fully free Photoshop equivalent. They must think that this is the only way to compete against Adobe’s very apt program range. It may or it may not, but it’s good for those of us with a limited budget.