Is there an alternative to Photoshop?

I’m still wondering whether and why Adobe has a bad image among users of graphic processors and how widespread it is. It’s the first time I noticed something like that (as was mentioned “I try to keep Adobe away from my Mac” - why??? And isn’t it already there in the disguise of PDF files?); I have no personal experiences towards this company whatsoever.

I think the answer will usually be: (i) vastly inflated prices; (ii) if you’re a Brit, astronomically inflated prices, since the GBP price is way higher than the USD price on most of their software; (iii) many people seem to find their interfaces unintuitive or getting in the way; (iv) application bloat is often quoted; (v) they’re held by many to be only interested in making money, not in customer satisfaction.

I used PhotoShop for years and would still, if I could afford an update, but I can’t, and the same goes for InDesign, which I really like – and PageMaker before that – but CS1 won’t run under Leopard or Snow Leopard … so I have an external disk which will boot Tiger just in case I can’t avoid needing the latter. In the meantime I use LightRoom, which I like, and LightZone, which I find more intuitive than PhotoShop, I have to say, though there are things I can do more easily in Photoshop. I also have Graphic Converter, which I’ve been using for decades, and for resizing and quick adjusting, I use PhotoComplete.

None of them does everything PhotoShop does, but I don’t have to boot into 10.4! I’m with the poster who said, “What is it you want to do?” Photoshop will do more or less everything in one way or another, but if you want an alternative, you need to identify what it is you’re going to use it for.

Well now… :slight_smile:

Of course everyone is entitled to his or her view of Adobe and Photoshop. I have no affiliation with Adobe, but I’m working for my income with Photoshop more or less every day since a couple of decades and honestly, I don’t quite recognize the above description.

i) Photoshop is a professional app with a huge scope and is priced as such. Most enthusiasts and, indeed, many pros can get by just fine using Photoshop Elements at a fraction of the price of its big brother. Ergo: if you don’t need Photoshop, just don’t buy it.

ii) Not being a Brit, I cant answer except that British VAT, while not as high as Sweden’s 25 percent, is appreciably higher than the sales tax in most U.S. states. Besides, if you are a pro, the intended target group for Photoshop, you will likely deduct the VAT and write off the cost over a few years anyway, no?

iii) “many people seem to find their interfaces unintuitive…” But what is your experience? You can pick up all kinds of views from Internet forums and groups, but what are they based on? Hands on, or hearsay? Probably because I spend a lot of time with it, I find the workflow excellent, not least with the new CS4 support of Open GL, which gives you the best screen resolution irrespective of fractional zoom levels and lets you turn the image in any position for more comfortable drawing and retouching.

iv) “…bloat is often quoted.” Again, hearsay and rumours. Do you find CS4 bloated? Yes, it is big, it’s wide and it’s deep. But it can do virtually anything a graphics pro could want, in one app. I’d say bloat is in the eye of the beholder who only needs to dabble occasionally.

iiv) “…held by many to be only interested in making money…” So, finally give us some hard facts and not hearsay, please? Just as an example, pro customer support in Sweden and internationally is, in my practical experience excellent. A support organisation which is up to pro demands isn’t cheap. But of course Adobe is interested in making money, how could they go on developing if they didn’t? We’re not talking about a basement open source operation, right?

Please excuse the straightforward language here and nothing personal, but I do get a bit of an allergic reaction from Adobe-bashing based on “many people seem to”, “often quoted” and “held by many”.

Best regards,



Thanks for your answer. In response, also with due respect and nothing personal intended:

AndreasE asked why Adobe has a bad image and people want to avoid their apps, and so I answered with the sort of reasons that people give. On the Brit side, Adobe generally charges in GBP more or less the same figure as they charge in USD … it’s not a matter of VAT.

If you read again you will see that I said:

And I explained what I use below. I also pointed out that the real answer to the OP’s question is that PhotoShop will do more or less everything, so if you need everything, you need PhotoShop. If you don’t need everything and do want an alternative, then first identify what it is that you do need and look for an app (or apps) that give you what you want.

I can’t afford CS4 – and couldn’t afford any of the steps between CS1 and that – and I’m not in professional graphics, and I can’t reclaim VAT. If I had money, I’d upgrade InDesign first, 'cos I can’t find anything at an affordable price that comes near to it, but I can do in other software just about everything I used to do in PhotoShop … not quite, so I still keep PhotoShop on that 10.4 disk, and if I had more money, PhotoShop would be on the top of my list for an upgrade.


I see where you’re coming from and quite understand. I don’t think Joachim was pointing his finger at you and people like you. I do get irritated by the whining on some design forums for I happen to share his opinion: there is nothing that can match Photoshop’s professional feature set and if you’re in the design or imaging business the price is a (grit-your-teeth) bargain. Those who remember Quantel Paintboxes at $100K a pop find Photoshop’s sticker price to be modest.

As I recall you teach, yes? I don’t know whether you can get it in China but on your next visit to England you’ll probably be able to get the massive educational discount for the Creative Suite. So . . . start saving your yuan. :slight_smile:


Oh sure … Quantel … bit like an outsize version of people paying USD900 + for Scrivener, as that includes the Mac … as far as I remember Quantel threw in the mainframe! :slight_smile:

And I know Joachim wasn’t really pointing the finger, and I understand the irritation … but I felt I needed to clarify

Yes, I teach, on a princely salary equivalent to about USD800 a month. I haven’t found any form of educational discount offered here in China for Mac software … Windows yes, but OS-X is still very much a minority thing. And academic discounts online are usually only available if you can prove your status in relation to a registered institution in the UK or US or wherever. I don’t think Xiamen University would be recognised. I think there’s a pirated version around in China, but I wouldn’t touch it with a barge-pole. I won’t use pirated software anyway, but here it’s just asking for trouble, virus wise.
And then saving my yuan … at the moment I’m poorer than I’ve been for years, as I’ve just lashed out 23000 yuan for air-tickets for my wife and I to go to New Zealand during the Spring Festival holiday. Going to take some time to build up the account again on what I earn!

But thanks for your concern. I’ll survive happily …

I think I must be confused about the versions of Photoshop. I have CS 8.0, and I thought that was the same thing as CS1, but maybe not? I use it under Snow Leopard all the time.

Anybody remember the Big Electric Cat? I remember making that poor thing burp quite a bit…

Anyway, I’ve used Photoshop since version 2, and call me assimilated, but nothing else cuts it. I tried Elements, but hate the interface…so, oh, well, I guess I’m stuck with 8.0 until I unexpectedly become rich.

I use Photoline, a German clone of Photoshop about three versions ago. It’ll do pretty much everything Photoshop does (including layers), more or less how Photoshop does it. Downsides are the it won’t save layers in its PSDs, and the documentation is a bit rubbish. But it is £40, or thereabouts, at least when I bought it.

You might want to try Adobe Photoshop Elements 8.0 for Mac. I went through the great search after moving from Windows, and I tried several of the suggestions listed in other replies.

I finally tried PSE, got a deal on Amazon, and I am very happy. Does more than I need it to do and if you have experience with graphics programs the learning curve is not that bad. Nothing like Photoshop itself would be and a fraction of the cost. I think with the rebate I paid about $60.

You also get Adobe Bridge CS4 with the package and it is extremely useful. Other stuff too.

Hope this helps.