back to article It’s Adobe’s Creative Cloud TITSUP birthday. Ease the pain with its RGB-wrangling rivals

Exactly a year ago today Adobe’s Creative Cloud servers went dark for a whole day, leaving some users unable to open their apps. Deadlines were missed, clients were let down, digital editions failed to appear and a generally crap time was had by all. Adobe Photoshop For more challenging jobs, stacking elements and effects in …


  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tools I use:

    Gimp<------for actual pixel manipulation. Although the article makes mention of lack of non destructive editing, you just get used to using layers for everything. Also raw support works well with Uraw.

    Darktable<----Awesome. Very awesome. And makes up for missing RAW support in gimp

    Still searching for a photo manager that actually works well on non-kde and windows. Picasa was actually pretty good, till they stopped Linux support and now it won't render my CR2 colour palate well.

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Have you tried Shotwell? I use it on Debian and I like it, although by the sounds of it you're more hardcore with your photography than I am.

    2. Chemist

      most changes you make will be irreversible/lack of non destructive editing,

      Not sure what is meant by this - Gimp lets you role back for a considerable number of changes (Edit - Undo History ) That said I don't use it much except for the odd quick job.

      That's 'cos I use Darktable which is awesome as you say and covers virtually all my photo needs. Especially good is its profiles for various DSLR cameras for RAW processing.

      1. Lis 0r

        Re: most changes you make will be irreversible/lack of non destructive editing,

        It means it allows you to go back and change stuff you did in the past, without having to undo the stuff you've done subsequently.

      2. Simon Harris Silver badge

        Re: most changes you make will be irreversible/lack of non destructive editing,

        "Not sure what is meant by this"

        Non-destructive editing is different from what you're doing with The Gimp.

        With NDE, the software keeps a list of all the edits made and the renderer takes the original image and applies the edits at rendering time to produce the display image, but does not alter the original.

        With The Gimp, the edits are made to the original bitmap.

        NDE can produce better images - imagine a situation where you have an image with 3 channels of 8-bit data (e.g. RGB) - you apply curves to it to enhance contrast. In The Gimp, this will change the values of the data itself, requantising it to new 8-bit values. In a NDE editing system, the values in the original are not changed - just how they are mapped to the next stage of editing. You decide your image looks better in black and white, so you apply another filter. In The Gimp, your image data is changed and requantised again, in the NDE editor, the B&W conversion is just another remapping. The repeated requantisation will reduce the quality of an image. The remapping won't - the editing pipeline may work at a higher bit-depth than the original image.

        1. Chemist

          Re: most changes you make will be irreversible/lack of non destructive editing,

          Thanks for the clarification - I was misled by "most changes you make will be irreversible"

          as clearly they are not. The process of altering a step out of a pipeline of changes that are eventually rendered is in fact what I'm used to with Darktable.

          As I mention above I don't us Gimp much but have been grateful for the undo history on many occasions - although in any case, of course, I'd never overwrite an original image

        2. spitfire31

          Re: most changes you make will be irreversible/lack of non destructive editing,

          Simon Harris: "With NDE, the software keeps a list of all the edits made and the renderer takes the original image and applies the edits at rendering time to produce the display image, but does not alter the original."

          A vital feature of NDE, the editing list is saved with the file, so you can open it months later with all edits present and correct for further adjustments or additions.

          I would never consider a PS replacement without NDE. ;-)

    3. All names Taken

      Have you tries MS Expression Media ?

      I don't know what version it got up to (4?) I use version 2 and it is sweet and can access data, metadata n stuff put there in Adobe Bridge

    4. Salts


      Thanks for the heads up on darktable, it looks great

    5. Antonymous Coward


      What do you need of your photo manager that Darktable doesn't do?

    6. Sarev


      I tried Darktable a few times over the past few years (albeit probably not for a year or more) and it seemed to stiff more often than actually get to the end of editing - especially when first loading a RAW. I reckon at least 50/50 odds of stiffing on load. How reliable is it nowadays? I'm guessing from your "very awesome" assessment that you're not being driven mad by it the way I was... :)

      1. Chemist

        Re: Darktable

        "How reliable is it nowadays? "

        I'm using Darktable 1.4.2 under OpeSUSE 13.1/13.2 and I've never had any problem with crashing and I processes a lot of my RAWs using it (all Canon 550D/6D). I've been using it for > 1year now.

    7. netean

      Try Corel's Aftershot Pro

  2. Mage Silver badge

    Paint Shop Pro

    It was progressing nicely and then Corel bought it. They made the UI very muddled and certainly many Corel versions were less productive, clunky and very few useful improvements over Paint Shop Pro 7

    PSP7 has layers and each can be raster or vector. Many Photoshop plug-ins and pressure features of Wacom tablet work on PSP7. Earlier Corel versions won't run on Win7

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Paint Shop Pro

      I stopped using PSP at around version 5 - version 4, if I recall correctly, had an image size limitation (and was I think a 16-bit application) and version six was incredibly slow in comparison to 5. It was one of the few shareware programs which I've considered worth paying for - but they never did a Linux version and I moved pretty much full time to Linux at that point.

      I've also never found a graphics program for generic photo use that has a waveform monitor equivalent. I lived in the video world for thirty-odd years and to my mind, histogram data doesn't do the same job. A waveform monitor is a bit more subtle: the overall luminance of the image is shown and the position across a line or across the field (vertically) is also indicated; the brightness of the trace shows how much of the image is at that level.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Paint Shop Pro

        The last I upgraded to was X3 (I bought it first when it was Jasc PSP 5). Its three different interfaces built with different tools made it a mess to use. It also installed some background running applications without asking that scanned continuously the disk, beside its copy protection service.

        Its RAW importing modile was too raw, and instead of improving tools a lot of amateurish features were added. I used it mostly for photos, thereby I switched to Lightroom and still use an old copy of PSP8 for some simple and quick bitmap edits.

        Corel is a company able to kill whatever it gets its hands on, see Wordperfect, Quattro Pro, Winzip, PSP and its very own CorelDraw!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Paint Shop Pro

      Still using PSP7 - 15 years on and it still ticks the boxes for me. I did try a Corel-era update at some point, but it seemed to have half the features and ran at half the speed, so I've been on 7 ever since...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Paint Shop Pro

      I still use my original PSP 7 on W7 - bought many years ago as an upgrade to PSP 5 and 6. IIRC it was eventually being given away free with a box of floppies. Did a free trial of the Corel replacement - and decided that all they had done was "badged" someone else's inferior product.

      One of the jobs PSP7 does very well is pasting together old school panoramic b&w photographs. The scan of each section produces slight differences in tone and size. PSP7 allows me to build up the final image by using semi-transparent layers which can be finely tuned in tone and size to match the overlap details. As the saying goes - "you can't see the join".

      The wear and tear could also be removed with careful use of cut and paste. One person's face was reconstructed using someone else's eye. One set of part scans given to me were very irregular shapes. A whole section of the background school building had to be reconstructed - the perspective of some open windows are wrong - if you look very closely.

      A 64 bit version of PSP7 would have been nice.

    4. YetAnotherLocksmith

      Re: Paint Shop Pro

      Another vote for PSP7 here. Does the job really well, mostly.

      Corel took out the vectors and text entirely, so I rolled back the upgrade. Used 7 ever since.

      If they re-do GIMP with some sort of eye to being sane about what users want - copy paste sensibly, starting up in a useful state, cropping without animal sacrifice, decent UI - then in 10 years it might be usable.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Adobe - The robber barons

    Well, that's my POV. After 15 years of Photoshop I said No to renting the software and have stuck with the last full bodied one that you could buy.

    I have upgraded Lightroom and use that more and more for just about everything.

    If they make LR rental only then Adobe can go and [redacted][redacted] for all I care.

    For most people Elements will do everything they need including a fair stab at HDR but the layers is what I use PS for but that is actually becoming rarer these days so it might not be long before I can leave PS behind.


    Adobe have really stuck two fingers up to all those photographers who are retired. We were the bunch that they wanted to stop using their product. We used to upgrade every other version or when funds would allow it. There is no way in hell that any of my Camera Club friends are going to rent PS and have it stop working if they can't pay the Adobe Tax every month.

    [rant off]

    1. Mike Flugennock

      Re: Adobe - The robber barons

      I've been a profesional illustrator and designer since the late '70s, and I've been using Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign (nee PageMaker) in various combinations on every Mac I've owned going back to about 1985. Hell, I used InDesign -- then PageMaker -- before Adobe scarfed up Aldus.

      I've sworn by Adobe's products since God was in short pants, scraping up for upgrades when I could afford it, but this latest profit-grab by Adobe makes me glad I'm so close to retirement I can smell it. When I upgraded my hardware about a year ago, I made a point of judiciously hunting around for a boxed edition of CS6. For the time I have left in my career, it made a helluva lot more sense than "renting" from Adobe and having my shit go south on me when I'm right in the middle of a crunch deadline, or doing last-minute revisions at a client's site. Seriously, screw that noise.

      Right now, after checking out these reviews, I've already downloaded some trial versions of Pixelmator and Affinity Designer. My wife finally upgraded to a MacBook Pro also, has no need for full-blown CS6, but really could use a decent cheap image editor or layout tool, and I plan on kicking back a bit and testing these out for her.

  4. Mage Silver badge


    Fine for support and updates.

    A total kick in the teeth if you just occasionally use something and don't need updates. The Subscription Adobe is MUCH more expensive.

    Applying Pay TV model to Applications or OS other than Payroll or Accounts* is plain evil.

    (*Someone expert has to put changes on tax etc).

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Subscriptions transfer risks from shareholders to custmers

      That's why they are so appealing to companies, especially those that stop working if you don't renew. You can no longer 'vote' for the quality/value of a release buying or skipping it, you have to get it anyway. The risk of a bad release is transferred from the shareholders to you, the customer.

      Once upon a time there was the entrepreneur risk... then came Adobe...

  5. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

    Corel ...

    ... is where old software goes to die; seriously, this company seems to have carved itself a niche buying long running titles and then ruining them. Actually, the part about "buying" is optional, they did the same to Corel Draw.

    I understand why you started with PaintShop, it used to be a very good program. Before Corel bought it, of course.

    BTW, thanks for the hint about Affinity, never heard about them but seems like the one to watch.

    1. Fonant

      Re: Corel ...

      RIP Ventura, a truly powerful DTP package.

      1. moiety

        Re: Corel ...

        Agreed about the "Corel Effect"; but CorelDraw is a pretty good program...the live tooltips when drawing (midpoint, quadrant, centre etc) make drawing complex shapes incredibly easy. I wish Inkscape would implement it.

  6. sandman

    No new Photoshop for me

    I really don't need the full power of Photoshop, but do need a mixture of RAW editing, general photo manipulation and some vector/semi DTP work. So that's a mixture of Elements, Lightroom and Xara. (For those of you who haven't heard of Xara, you might want to look it up, it's a pretty damned good product).

  7. BlartVersenwaldIII

    Anyone have any opinions on Aftershot?

    It's exclusively designed for photo workflows and manipulation so image creation is kind of outta the picture (i.e. it's not a shoe-in for photoshop or PSP and more a competitor to lightroom), but as a non-pro I've found it rather nice for my purposes - importing a bunch of images, colour correction, perspective correction, non-destructiveness, that sort of gubbins. Like its former incarnation as Bibble it's got good RAW support IME. The only gripe I have is that it doesn't support multi monitor setups but that's something I've been able to live with.

    Extra bonus points for having a linux version as well although I haven't tried it out myself yet.

    Curious to know if anyone else uses it in more than my "enthusiastic amateur" role and how it compares with the big boys as I'd only used digikam for photo management before that.

    1. Broadwing

      Re: Anyone have any opinions on Aftershot?

      In most respects I'm also in the 'enthusiastic amateur' role, but I have several large-scale on-site portraiture gigs a year. I've been using Bibble Pro/Aftershot since it was the only 3rd party RAW game in town. I've tried others, and they have some very good points, but I keep going back due to some of Aftershot's nicer quirks:

      -Pro's generous license terms (All your personal systems on all three platforms, last I looked) I've actually used all three platforms in my workflow once. The Linux version seems to work surprisingly well, it's only occasionally gripey about libraries, etc.

      -Easy to use interface - for me it's MUCH faster to blaze through a thousand-photo portrait session with it than anything else. Closest I came with Lightroom was hooking up a MIDI slider controller to tweak variables quickly.

      -In-filesystem XML storage of edit data. I LOVE this one. Edit on laptop, put the directory on a file server, do the final tweaks and JPEG output on the faster desktop, all seamlessly. Nothing else I've seen does that neatly. Works across sessions and platforms, no messy database linkups.

      As you say, it's not Photoshop, but it's a good (not as pretty) Lightroom/Aperture competitor. It lacks a few of the advanced features of those, but makes up for it a bit with an interesting plugin API. Totally agreed that the one 'make it better' feature would be multi-monitor support - tool palette and grid in one window, output in the other.

  8. magickmark

    Earlier Versions

    Like one of the previous commentators here, depending on your needs, why not track down a full pre-rental version of PhotoShop? It will probably do most thinsg for most people (and more that the software in the article) as long as you are a not demanding professional designer.

  9. Jared Earle

    So, Photoshop then

    Looks like no change from Lightroom => Photoshop then for those of us that take terabytes of raws.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the hyperlink reg doesn't want you to see

    "Take care to download the appropriate installer direct from or its mirrors; if you Google it, your first hits will be scam sites peddling adware."

  11. caffeine addict Silver badge

    To my eyes, PSP still looks like the best of the alsorans.

    But what would people recommend as a RAW editor to make up for the obvious gap?

    1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

      I recommend RawTherapee if you like free.

    2. The last doughnut


      Or, if you're really handy, a custom C++ program to do the job

  12. Martin an gof Silver badge

    Different angle

    Disclaimer: I take photos but I am in no way "artistic" and Photoshop and its ilk confuse the heck out of me. GIMP is a nightmare.

    I use Xara Designer Pro for my retouching needs. At its heart it's a vector drawing application (from the company that brought you Artworks on Risc OS, so it could be said to be a distant relative of Acorn's Draw and can indeed still import Draw and Artworks files) but it has a reasonable range of photo retouching tools too. Some of the example files provided date all the way back to Artworks.

    It was part of the Corel stable at one point, but it was brought back out before Corel could kill it off altogether.

    Its price puts it nearer Photoshop territory than Paintshop Pro, though if photo manipulation is the main consideration, £50 will buy you a version with most of the vector and text editing elements cut down.

    Xara is the main reason why my work computer still dual-boots Windows and Linux. I do most of my "work" in Linux these days, but Xara is Windows-only.


    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Different angle

      If you are not doing massive images, etc, you might want to create an XP or Win7 VM and use that for your photo editing. I have a few VMs with old CAD and editor software just for that sort of job - saves my having to dual boot now.

      Also for most VMs (certainly VMware player) you can save the VM state mid-operation so you can then shut down or reboot your main PC and then later resume the VM from *exactly* where you were...

  13. MatthewE

    I don't do much editing really as I am not that gifted in the arts department. However I did like using Paint.Net on windows that was quite easy to use.

  14. JStent


    While not as full featured as paintshop, (windows only) is a capable program that could be considered.

    I have not investigated the Nikon software, but the Canon software that comes with a mid-range camera allows for good raw tweaking, and image management, with HDR, but no layers, and little picture editing.

  15. alanreg

    Photoshop is probably still the best for non-destuctive colour-managed 16-bit editing

    I managed to buy a genuine copy of Photoshop 6 recently (from a UK based dealer), and it looks like I'll be using that 'forever' now. As long as I have a version of Windows it will run on, I'll avoid the "subscription model", partly because you absolutely rely on an online connection (AND Adobe not cocking up their servers) and partly because once you subscribe they can crank up the subscription in the future (i.e. legalised 'stiffing').

  16. oresme

    the real problem with the Gimp

    As of now, Gimp is 8 bits per channel only. Work is in progress on a 16 bit version, and has been for some time. That's the real problem which stops me from using the Gimp at all. Cinepaint (a high bit depth fork of the Gimp) used to be very good, but no longer works with modern versions of Linux. Sigh.

    1. keithpeter

      Re: the real problem with the Gimp

      "Cinepaint (a high bit depth fork of the Gimp) used to be very good, but no longer works with modern versions of Linux. Sigh."

      The cinepaint .deb there plus the three libraries and cinepaint-data package install OK on Debian Jessie and bring in some dependencies from main (libcms1 and so on). I didn't enable the deb-multimedia repository as I don't want it overwriting stuff from main, so downloaded debs and used dpkg -i and handled the dependencies by backtracking and installing those (sort of slackware style). YMMV.

      Cinepaint has to be started from terminal and complains about not being able to colour manage the monitor (laptop, Jessie MATE desktop). Looks really old fashioned, like GIMP 1.x ish. Might be an early build?

      Looks like it was taken out of Debian Main after squeeze. There is some stuff on the mailing lists.

      PS: liblcms1_1.19 package I got from Wheezy, I've run into that one before and its probably the cause of the colour management error.

    2. The last doughnut

      Re: the real problem with the Gimp

      Work has been in progress for a number of years! But anyway 8 bits is plenty for most purposes.

    3. Sven Coenye

      Re: the real problem with the Gimp

      Gimp 2.9 does 16 bit. Even though it is the development version, it is usable. The worst landmine during the build process is the fact that 2.9 needs GTK2 but that is not very clear. If you don't realize that and start building against GTK3, you may run out of support packages.

  17. Jason Hindle

    I don't mind the Adobe subscription model

    The startup cost is reasonable enough, so I'm giving it a try. Don't they also offer a plan where you can, for example, rent it for thirty days when needed? I'm still gutted that Apple have murdered Aperture, but with the Adobe tools I'm finding:

    - Often, 99% of the work can be done in Camera Raw (which even has brushes, which seem a bit more useful - need to paint the sky 0.3 of a stop darker, recovering detail?)

    - Not to mention straightening, before I even hit Photoshop

    - Support for new raw files is not dependent on an OS update

    - Oh, and once in Photoshop, I found content aware fill worked a treat, once I'd worked out how to mask out adjacent bits of the image I didn't want affecting).

    My setup and approach is by no means perfect (haven't even got around to trying Lightroom, and I'm dreading importing my Aperture libraries), but I've enjoyed learning new stuff.

  18. This post has been deleted by its author

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pixelmator is OK but a tad quirky

    I am probably biased here, but I get on with Pixelmator a lot better than the all too brief review suggested for newbies. I don't have super complex needs, but I found Pixelmator to address them well, albeit sometimes in an unexpected way.

    One of the other challenges with the current 3.3.2 version is that it has a vector mode, but the command (shift-cmd-V) does not show up in any of the menus so if you're not aware of it you'll never see it. If you're just quickly glancing over the software you'll probably never even realise it can do this.

    Fully agree with the nuisance of disappearing windows when out of focus, though, I wish they'd make ideas like these optional.

    Thanks for the heads up on Affinity, even their promo for the product is impressive (must go and find out who made this, it has touches of Breakfast of Champions editing, very, very well done). Now examining their beta..

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Non-photo work

    I use my old PSP7 to lay out Vero board for components.

    The Epson X405 multi-function printer produces a scan of a 37mm x 25mm board that PSP7 prints at pretty much the real size. Components can be scanned as well.

    PSP7 semi-transparent layers allow me get the hole registration right - especially if the design needs modification

    The print on thin, but stiff, photo paper is mounted on the board using spray photo adhesive. Registration while glueing is achieved with a couple of long Vero pins temporarily inserted on the board at corners. That also makes it possible to spray the glue on the underside of the paper without holding it.

    Soldering the wires and components on the board is then a no-brainer. The point of a pair of compasses punctures the paper into the appropriate hole. If the hole size is controlled to be smaller than a component's pin diameter then the paper will hold the component in place when the board is turned over for soldering. It is best to add the wires/components in order of ascending height - so gravity keeps them tight against the board when soldering.

    1. J P

      Re: Non-photo work

      Not quite so advanced, but I use PSP7 to create custom Romers/Roamers - little map reading tools, with scales etc printed on them. Simply set your pixels to the right number per centimetre & draw away. Used an Epson printer (now sadly defunct) to tun them off on transparency sheets - far more accurate & useable than commercially sold alternatives, and marginal cost so low that I carry half a dozen spares around with me & hand them out to novice navigators who haven't yet got one at all.

  21. SysFX


    The huge advantage of Photoshop is its integration with the other adobe products, Layers can be imported onto the timeline in Première which can then be rendered out to Encore. Trying to do this in 3 seperate companies products would be a major pain. Saying that we have stuck with version 6 and will be sticking with it until there is nothing left to run it on.


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