The subscription to the Cloud system introduced by Adobe has been welcomed by many of its users with serious doubts and complaints. The disadvantages of this system, which we have already reviewed and that can be accessed by clicking here, have lead many users to seriously consider something which was completely unthinkable just a couple of years ago, the fact of switching to different alternatives for their photo editing software. It was unthinkable because Adobe was, for years, the one and only, the reference for everybody, and the alternatives to Photoshop were simply years behind it. But as it always happens, even the photo edition software market is evolving into a more competitive phase, were many other brands are offering interesting products, some of them for interesting prices. Still haven’t heard of any? Then check out the most interesting alternatives to Adobe that we have found.
#1. Corel PaintShop Pro X7
PaintShop X7 is one of the most serious alternatives to Adobe that can already be found in the market. Developed by Corel, PaintShop counts, in this latest version, with a series of tools and features which place this software much closer to Photoshop than users not familiar with it may expect from its price. And that is just because even the most advanced version of it, Paint Shop X7 Ultimate, is offered for less than 60 euros in its full version.
Designed for both professional and amateur users, it offers a wide range of new advanced editing features, which are added to the traditional functions. The impressive Smart Carver Tool, which allows removing objects from your pictures without leaving any sign of them in an extremely easy way, is a good example of those. Multiple noise reduction options are also included, depth controllers, makeover tools to remove red eyes or blemishes, or a completely customizable Watermark tool, make out of PaintShop a real professional alternative for highly experienced users, but also for amateur photographers and designers, being available for a really competitive price.
In terms of ease to use, this latest version has also being improved, allowing management of large set of images in a fast and easy to use way, even in RAW format. However, some of the editing tools might still slow down its performance. To avoid this, the Express Lab mode has being incorporated, a simplified editor specially designed for less advanced users.
#2. Serif PhotoPlus X7
Serif PhotoPlus is another interesting alternative to subscription based systems. Designed for both professionals and amateurs, it offers a wide range of lightning a filter options. Its Raw Studio has being improved, with a large number of editing options which will fit the need of the most advanced users, such as the Smart Selection and Edge Refinement Tools, which makes it easier than ever selecting and editing specific parts of a photo.
At the same time, its organizer also allows fast and easy going management of pictures, even in RAW format, thanks to its re-engineered interface. However, and although PhotoPlus is an extremely powerful editing tool, it does not support as many image formats as PaintShop. Furthermore, the amount of Creative Filters included is not as impressive as it is in Paint Shop, just like the amount of Brushes, but generally, differences are absolutely minor details. Its price moves around 80, euros so it still a very competitive alternative to the subscription based products.
#3. Serif Affinity Photo Beta
At the same time that they offer PhotoPlus, Serif is still working in other editing alternatives much more focused on professionals, as it is the case with Affinity products, which are still on a Beta phase. A new member to be added to the Affinity family, already counting with Designer and Publisher, also very much professionals oriented tool. At the moment, Affinity Photo Beta is available for free, but only for Mac, although from Serif it has been also stated the possibility of a future version for Windows of this tool. And this is probably the biggest issue related to Affinity, the fact that for now it will only be available for Apple users. Check out their presentation video by clicking here.
Very much Photoshop inspired, CMYK, LAB, Photoshop PSD formats and 64-bit Photoshop plug-ins are supported, among other things. However, and been still in its Beta phase, the real potential of Affinity as an alternative to Adobe still need to be tested, once the definite version will be launched. Serif has already announced that it will be available for 49.99€, including two years of free updates for that price.
Lightroom by Adobe can also be an option to consider for those not willing to pay a subscription to the Cloud. Although it is offered, together with Photoshop CC, in the Photographers subscription package, but perpetual licenses can still be purchased. This smoother and lighter version of the traditional Photoshop is popular enough not to require too extensive explanations on its features, not as strong and complete as its older brothers, it is still a useful tool specially for users focused on photography optimization, who do not pay much attention to other editing options going further than that.
However, when compared to other alternatives, such as the Serif and Corel products already reviewed, Lightroom is still a fair option, but its price, which is still above 120 euros, gives wings to other competitors. Furthermore, not all its features and tools are available without paying the subscription to the Cloud, such as Lightroom Mobile. At the same time, and despite being a simplified version of Photoshop, it still requires powerful hardware to ensure a fluent workflow.
Another interesting alternative for Mac users is the Pixelmator app. Specifically designed for the new MacBook and MacBook Pro generation, its Force Touch technology allows users to easily manipulate their pictures through the new trackpads incorporated on them. Available at the Apple Store for 30 euros, its price is probably one of its main strengths, since it offers most of the basic functions included in more expensive alternatives. It even supports RAW edition, and most of the classical features are included, so most of former Adobe users will not miss any function.
Pluggins from Photoshop are not supported by it, and in order to manage large sets of pictures iPhoto needs to be used. However, its usability and workflow, together with its perfect integration with pads and tablets and its wide range of tools and features, make out of Pixelmator a nice alternative for Mac users, especially when considering its price.
Finally, and those in need of a powerful editing tool who still find these products reviewed here too expensive only have one more option, and that is called GIMP. The free software alternative to Adobe par excellence has being truly improved in its latest version, making out of it a much more competitive alternative. It has being re-designed in a way that overcomes the traditional problems associated with GIMP, specially its workflow and its lack of certain features and tools.
Much more intuitive than in its previous versions, and although some traditional Photoshop tools are absent in the basic version of it, it still will fit the needs of most amateur users, while through the addition of different plugins and extra features which can be downloaded for free, it can be transformed into a much more professional tool. However, and unlike other options already reviewed, it does not support Photoshop add-ons, and it lacks of a proper RAW editor (RAW images should be converted before editing them). Definitely a less interesting tool for professionals, but still a nice way of entering the photo edition world.