When you hear the phrase “photographic editing software”, the first thing that you probably think about is Photoshop. Indeed, this is the most popular software that people turn to when they want to edit their pictures and take them to the next level. However, this isn’t the only option available on the market. Among many Photoshop alternatives, one of the most well-known is GIMP. Here, let’s compare GIMP vs. photoshop by looking at the differences between these two programs.
GIMP vs. Photoshop
- Both GIMP and Photoshop offer powerful image editing capabilities, serving different user needs.
- Photoshop is a professional, subscription-based tool, while GIMP is free and open-source.
- The choice between the two may depend on budget, expertise, and project requirements.
GIMP vs. Photoshop: the Overview
Overview of GIMP
GIMP, which stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program, is a powerful piece of open-source software designed for tasks such as photo retouching, image composition, and image authoring. It’s a versatile tool that we recommend for tasks ranging from simple painting to complex image manipulation.
As a community-driven project, GIMP has been constantly improved and refined by volunteers since its initial release in 1996. We’ve seen it evolve into a robust alternative to proprietary software, accessible to users across various operating systems including Linux, macOS, and Windows.
Key Features of GIMP:
- Image Editing: Rich features like layers, masks, filters, and effects for comprehensive image editing.
- Flexibility: Highly customizable interface and the ability to enhance functionality through plugins and scripts.
- File Formats: Broad support for various file formats such as JPEG, GIF, PNG, and TIFF, among others.
Overview of Photoshop
Adobe Photoshop is a powerful photo editing and graphic design software. Established in 1988, it has become the industry standard for raster graphics editing and digital art as a whole. We utilize Photoshop to enhance photographs, create designs, and even produce realistic paintings. It’s part of the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription model, which means we gain access to regular updates and new features on an ongoing basis.
Photoshop comes packed with a plethora of tools, such as:
- Brushes: Customizable for various textures and effects.
- Layers: Allowing us to work non-destructively by stacking edits.
- Selection tools: For meticulous edits and composites.
- Content-Aware Fill: Seamlessly removing unwanted elements.
GIMP or Photoshop: Key Differences
First of all, Photoshop costs money: in order to legally use it, you need to pay $10 monthly. Of course, if you make thousands of dollars every month by selling pictures that you edit in Photoshop, then you won’t even notice that you have this expense. However, if editing photographs doesn’t bring you a lot of income or if you’re doing it as a hobby, even 10 dollars can be a significant amount of money. In contrast, GIMP is completely free and doesn’t ask you to pay absolutely any fees. This is why it’s preferred by those photo editors who are on a tight budget.
The second difference is that Photoshop offers you the opportunity to edit pictures on your smartphone, while GIMP doesn’t. You might not want to always carry a laptop with you but, if you choose GIMP, this will be a necessity. If you want to be able to edit photographs wherever you are, then you should go for Photoshop.
Let’s say that you prefer to use a laptop for work, but it also doesn’t have a lot of free space. If this is the case, GIMP is the best option. It takes about 20 times less space than Photoshop, so it’s a lot faster to download and set up. In addition, GIMP won’t need as much buffer space as Photoshop would, so you’ll be able to edit your pictures faster and without worrying about deleting other important programs or files to free up space on your hard drive.
There’s no denying that Photoshop is a much more powerful program, with a lot more tools than GIMP. If you want software to use for business purposes, then Photoshop is preferred because it will allow you to perform a significantly larger number of manipulations with your images. You will also be able to state that Photoshop fees are a business expense, so your company will need to pay the money, not you.
Still, do you really need all of the tools that Photoshop has to offer? There literally are thousands of things you can do in Photoshop, and these aren’t limited to editing digital photographs. If you are planning to work on something else apart from photography, such as designing or illustrating, you should go for Photoshop. However, if your only goal is to edit pictures, GIMP will work better for you. Since it was designed for editing only, you won’t get distracted by other tools that you would never use anyway.
Having a program that only has the necessary will also prevent you from spending a lot of time to learn hundreds of tools only to realize that you don’t need them.
A big advantage of Photoshop is that it works well with many other Adobe programs. For example, there is nothing easier than to send an image from Photoshop to Lightroom and back, if you’re using both of them, with all the changes that you make being applied. With GIMP, the process is more complicated. For instance, it will open PSD files but you’ll need to go into some trouble in order to achieve this.
Another difference is that Photoshop often offers big and important updates, while in GIMP, updates usually aren’t so significant. A dedicated team constantly works hard to make Photoshop the best software for picture editing, so there always is development, new tools, and exceptional customer service. Though GIMP also offers updates every few months, there rarely are any groundbreaking and innovational changes.
Difference between GIMP vs. Photoshop | Useful Tips
There are many other differences between Photoshop and GIMP but the thing to remember is that Photoshop is a paid service that offers more tools and stronger image manipulation, while GIMP is a free program that has all the necessary for you to get familiar with photo editing. Depending on your needs, you can choose whichever one works best for you. You can even download GIMP first, to test whether photo editing is something you’re willing to turn into a job, and then “upgrade” to Photoshop and enjoy more opportunities there.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the advantages of GIMP over Photoshop for everyday use?
For everyday use, GIMP’s primary advantage is its cost, being a free and open-source software. It’s also lightweight and can be run on various operating systems without the need for powerful hardware.
Can GIMP be used for professional image editing like Photoshop?
Yes, GIMP can be used for professional image editing, although it may not have all the advanced tools and features that Photoshop offers. For many professionals, GIMP serves well in tasks like photo retouching, image composition, and image authoring.
How does GIMP compare to Photoshop in terms of learning curve for beginners?
GIMP typically has a steeper learning curve for beginners compared to Photoshop, primarily because of its interface and less structured user resources. However, there are ample tutorials available online for GIMP users.
For advanced image editing, does GIMP offer similar functionalities as Photoshop?
GIMP offers a solid range of advanced image editing tools, but Photoshop typically surpasses it with more sophisticated features, such as 3D design capabilities, advanced color management, and extensive plugin support.
What are the limitations of using GIMP when compared to Photoshop Elements?
Compared to Photoshop Elements, GIMP lacks certain user-friendly features, like guided edits, which can be particularly helpful for beginners. Additionally, GIMP does not integrate with other Adobe products or services, which can be a limitation for those invested in the Adobe ecosystem.
Is GIMP a sufficient substitute for Photoshop in terms of astrophotography editing?
While GIMP is capable of handling basic astrophotography editing, professionals might find Photoshop to be more sufficient due to its advanced tools tailored for adjusting fine details in high-contrast images often found in astrophotography.
Last Updated on December 9, 2023
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