31 Jul, 2013

Photoshop - to subscribe or not to subscribe

If you are an avid Photoshop user, then you no doubt know that Adobe have decided to withdraw Photoshop as a boxed product, and only offer it on a subscription basis.

For over 20 years Photoshop has dominated image editing. When it was originally released its fantastic array of functions quickly made it every graphic designers "goto" program. And it became much loved, and some might say much abused, for retouching photos (yes, models and celebs actually do have wrinkles in real life), graphic design, web design, and creating amazing artwork.

While there are many free image manipulation/art/design programs available for download, Adobe Photoshop has maintained its dominating position because of the functionality that it offers. Some people might say that it has too much functionality, leading it to have been classified under "bloatware", however for professionals who make their living from using it, it has all the bells and whistles that they want and use

Photoshop has become as generic as the Hoover in common language usage. Rather than "vaccum" you will probably "hoover" the floor, and rather than "digitally manipulate", you "Photoshop" an image. Easy to purchase in a box off the shelf, you could upgrade your copy of Photoshop to the next version for a small financial consideration.

This year however, Adobe turned the Photoshop loving world upside down by announcing that it would no longer be offered as an upgradeable boxed product, but would instead be subscription based, part of their Creative Cloud brand.

Big design studios won't have a problem paying a subscription to use Photoshop, and will benefit from always having access to the latest version without paying for additional upgrades. But it does mean that those Photoshop users on a tighter budget are either locked into the version they were running when the subscription model launched, or they are faced with paying a subscription to access the latest version.

There are many free or low price alternatives, but if you've been an ardent user of Photoshop then you may find them less than satisfying to use. But some of them cost less than a 1 month subscription, so you have to make the decision based on technical and financial considerations. If you really don't need all the bells and whistles that Photoshop offers, then why pay the money for them.

Some of the many alternatives to Photoshop, each has its own strengths and weaknesses, but may suit your needs: Acorn, Aperture, Fotor, GIMP, Paint.net, Paintshop Pro X6, Perfectly Clear, Pixelmator, Pixlr, SerifPhotoPlus X6, Sketch, Sumopaint