Alternatives to Adobe tools

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by carlb, Sep 6, 2013.

  1. carlb

    carlb All-Pro

    Feb 6, 2013
    For me, Adobe's recent subscription strategy ("Cloud Computing") rubs the wrong way. Adobe (and Microsoft, for what that's worth) are switching from a "buy" to a "rent" proposition, which I've seen the negatives for in the past.

    I understand that many will not have a problem with this new model and I'm not in any way trying to negate or belittle anyone's choice to use and pay for Adobe's products. We all have different needs, for sure!

    OK. Having said that, I'd like to hear from those finding good alternatives to Adobe products. Knowing what our choices are is a good thing.

    My own "suite" includes Tiffen Dfx and Pixelmator. Since I'm on a Mac, I can and do use the Iridient raw converter, which I consider excellent. For viewing and quick editing, I find Picassa to be much better than either Apple's or Microsoft's "kit" tools.

    Tiffen Dfx provides me with what Light Room would, and fits my needs very well. It also provides a bit of Silver FX thrown in to boot. Tiffen has a great set of masking tools that make it possible to do some pretty nuanced processing. Perhaps LR and Silver FX do too? For effects, I especially make use of the light "reflector" tool (hopefully not too much) and "haze" removal (again the same). The masking capabilities help me achieve realistic looking results with these. My quibble with Tiffen Dfx is that the image quality (sharpness, resolution) seen while editing is much less than what the final output will be. This can lead to wrong choices for sharpening and/or smoothing. Tiffen definitely needs to work on that, or perhaps there's a "see final" button that I'm not aware of.

    As a Photoshop alternative, I'm finding Pixelmator to be quite useful. Obviously it doesn't have all the Photoshop features but it does have the ones I'm interested in using: Healing and cloning. With some not-too-bad "content-aware" healing, to boot. It can do a pretty darned good job, and of course the more you try and practice with it the better and quicker your results become. I'm not certain, but I don't think it has the "skewing" capability for a cloned patch that PS has - can anyone confirm or dispel my initial finding here?

    The Iridient raw developer has quite the set of parameters to help get the real looking detail out of a file. I've been able to get much better results than out of the camera jpegs for Fuji X-E1 and Panasonic LF1, and better than post-processed out-of-camera jpegs.

    Picassa has a nice model for making edits and launching my other processing tools, for backing out changes, and for grouping and viewing images. I also like using it for initial image cropping, it has most all of the standard format ratios, and I try to stick to those while cropping. I don't use it for straightening a tilted shot, however: I've found that the output blurs more Picassa's "tilt" than does Tiffen's.

    How about you? What are you finding works nicely, and how do you use it in an overall image viewing/processing approach? What could be better? How do they compare with Adobe tools (if you happen to know)?
  2. stratokaster

    stratokaster Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Dec 27, 2010
    Kiev, Ukraine
    When I worked at a publishing house long since forgotten, they issued me a licensed copy of Photoshop CS2. I used it until Apple decided that they didn't want to support PowerPC applications anymore. After that I have tried Photoshop Elements, Pixelmator, Acorn and many other image editors, but only one was good enough to replace Photoshop for me — PhotoLine. It's a very powerful and very fast application (for both Mac and Windows). It has everything I need including adjustment layers, CMYK support, the ability to open 16-bit files and color management (Pixelmator has none of these) and even some pretty powerful vector tools. I think it's the closest thing to Photoshop I have ever seen and the price (just 59 euro) is not bad either.

    The only problem I have had with PhotoLine is that its keyboard shortcuts are very different to Photoshop. But since I'm on a Mac, I simply created my own shortcuts in System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Keyboard Shortcuts -> Application Shortcuts.
  3. twokatmew

    twokatmew Regular

    Aug 19, 2012
    Lansing, Michigan, US
    Thanks! I've never heard of PhotoLine. Looks like it even accepts Photoshop plugins. :smile:
  4. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    I also use Iridient Developer most of the time and love it. I have Pixelmator but have yet to use it. I'm also going to try Sketch, but that is more of an Illustrator alternative.
  5. olli

    olli Super Moderator Emeritus

    Sep 28, 2010
    Metro Manila
    Adobe plan to keep LR available on a purchase model for the foreseeable future. As long as they do I see no need to move. If they do change that eventually my LR alternative would be Capture One Pro. It doesn't have quite the same level of adjustment as LR and it doesn't integrate as neatly with plugins, but it's definitely the best alternative for LR.
  6. swamiji

    swamiji Regular

    Jan 29, 2013
    Capture One does provide some features that LR does not. One feature that is provided by Photoshop and C1 is layers. Allowing for two pass sharpening, and layered dodging and burning.

    I use C1 with the entire NIK suite, fully integrated. You just have to get used to the C1 way of doing things.

    Version 7 adds a LR type catalog. So if you prefer that way of working, it is now available. The old way is still supported.
  7. Take a look at Acorn. Its kinda like Photoshop but without the learning curve. I like it as a replacement when it matures a bit more. You can get it on the MAS or on its own website (which is what I did). I also have Pixelmator, but I like Acorn a bit better. That said, I am still using Photoshop CS5 (but have no plans to upgrade to 6, 5 does what I want)
  8. I don't think I knew that was available for OSX. I used it a bit when I was still a Windows user and found it was fairly comparable to Paintshop Pro which was my editor of choice at the time. Downloading the trial. Thanks :)
  9. Thats interesting, So you can use NIK plugins in C1 eh!! Would you have to Re install the Nik plugin suit again after installing C1 or can you just install C1 and the Nik plugins will be there ready to use?

    C1 Pro 7 does look really good and I have been thinking of using it instead of LR next time I upgrade.
  10. pniev

    pniev Student for life

    May 13, 2013
    For now, I stick to LR5. I started off with the first version of LR, then switched to Aperture, and switched back to LR. Tried Capture One, Aperture again, Iridient, Silky Pix, and some more (trial versions) out of curiosity and never found a good reason to switch. I compared pixels and saw pros and cons. But when I looked at the total picture, the extra effort was not worth the improvement. I'd like to keep PP as simple and time-efficient as possible. Right now LR does that for. I use a standard import preset for raw-files, do some local burning/dodging when deemed necessary and occasionally add some punch or use VSCO-plugins and NIK plugins. And of course, cropping/straigthening when necessary (which annoys me if it's the result of not composing properly). That works smoothly and very fast. Sometimes I compare with SOOC jpegs but so far I've preferred the converted raw files. I use the SOOC jpegs only on the ipad during vacation.

    I'd like to pay more attention to the message/story, the mood/atmosphere, and the composition. And that's quite a challenge for me!! For example, when I shoot a row of trees with some water, I try various angles and compare the results. Hopefully this will improve my "eye in the field" and prepare me for shooting film again. As said, lot to learn!

  11. woof

    woof Veteran

    Sep 23, 2011
    I use LR5 and Paintshop Pro. The latter accepts most Photoshop plug-ins, and there are a large number of free ones that I ind useful. So that's hwere I am staying. Even with the Academic 75.00 per year deal the money simply does not add up.
  12. olli

    olli Super Moderator Emeritus

    Sep 28, 2010
    Metro Manila
    LR does offer similar features utilizing a kind of layers approach. The difference is that instead of creating a separate layer LR creates a mask on the fly using the editing tools. Since these tools are overlapping and 'stackable' the end result is similar.

    I prefer the LR approach but that's probably just because I'm used to it after years of using LR.

    In an ideal world (i.e. if I could afford it) I would love to have both.
  13. swamiji

    swamiji Regular

    Jan 29, 2013
    For dodging an burning, yes I Agee. The LR approach does not require much in regrading layers. Multiple sharpening does. C1 and PS gives you ten layers or more. An example would be you want light but corse sharpening followed by a heavy but fine sharpening, you can't really do that in LR but in PS or C1 you can. Layers provide fine control of changes that interact with each other. That's one if the main features that many photographers still use PS over LR even though LR has added many PS features recently. The implementation in LR does not provide for the level of control. C1 is similar to PS in this regard.
  14. swamiji

    swamiji Regular

    Jan 29, 2013
    No, you just create a process recipe. Select "open with" in the recipe, and the installed NIK/Google plugins should be listed. The NIK installer installs a stand alone app, and if it sees an Adobe program will install the proper scripts for it. C1 does not use the same plugin architecture, but if you create a process recipe C1 does recognize NIK plugins and works with it seamlessly.
  15. pictor

    pictor All-Pro

    Jul 14, 2010
    Since the licence of Lightroom is still the same and doesn't seem to change in the very near future, I will go on using Lightroom. This is the software I know best, although it has been getting buggy recently. If I had to switch, I might try DarkTable or RawTherapee, which are two fine programs I have played with recently. I have to admit, that I am very impressed by these two programs. If I had to choose now, I might probably choose one of these programs.