Digital photography has changed all of our lives and given us the ability to sit behind a computer monitor and be our own Ansel Adams with the post production. But it’s not that simple, there are several pieces of software to edit your photos with after you take them, the most well known being Photoshop. There is a clear cut rival to Photoshop called GIMP, an open source software that is very similar to Photoshop, and some say better.
1. Starting with the most obvious and possibly most important, GIMP is free. Yes free, no charge, nada, zip, zero. Photoshop costs upwards of $700 for a single license! The old saying stays true, if it’s free it’s for me.
2. GIMP is a much smaller install, about 20x smaller then Photoshop. Not only does the install go much quicker, but it takes up far less hard drive making it the perfect image editing software for laptops and netbooks where hard drive space may be at a premium.
3. Photoshop is extremely resource intensive, it will run on older hardware but it’s not optimized to and will be sluggish and slow. GIMP on the other hand is amazingly fast and stable. It will install on nearly any hardware running Mac, Windows or even Unix!
4. Gimp is more user friendly. Photoshop was actually created as a piece of software intended for graphics and photographic editing, never just digital photo editing. Because of this it’s bloated with features and functions most photographs don’t want or need. The physical layout of the screen is similar to that of Photoshop, but is also customizable and flexible to fit your needs.
5. Open source architecture means anyone can modify the core code and develop plugins and new features, you don’t need to be approved by Adobes’ development team.
6. Batch processing through automated actions is far superior in GIMP. Because photographers often need to do repeatable actions to large groups of images, this feature alone is worth its weight in gold.
7. Open, edit and save Photoshop’s native PSD file format with GIMP. If you’re editing for someone else, it doesn’t matter if they’ve started the job in Photoshop because GIMP can handle the file format.
8. Free upgrades. Not only is GIMP free to download, install and use, upgrades are free! Photoshop upgrades, which happen on average every 12-18 months can cost as much as $200, on top of the original purchase price!
9. Replicate the look and feel of Photoshop and its keyboard shortcuts in GIMP. There are several tutorial sites aimed at skinning and rearranging GIMP to fully replicate the Photoshop layout if that’s what you are used to using.
10. GIMP goes portable! As if the install of GIMP wasn’t small enough already, a portable version is available to load on your USB thumb drive to take on the go and edit programs on anyone’s computer, anywhere!
With all the benefits and upsides to GIMP and the free price of the software, it’s most definitely worth looking at when searching for an image editing software.