Adobe Photoshop is the most widely used photo editing software today. Photoshop is not only more expensive than most other editing programs, but it’s also not the best choice for everyone because it can be difficult to master.
To help photographers edit, software developers have created alternatives to Photoshop. This option is cheaper and has editing tools that are intuitive. If you’re looking for an affordable and easy-to-use Photoshop alternative, check out our list. Our best pick, Affinity Photos, is the first to have a fully featured iPad app over the desktop version. Adobe is still trying to find the right one for Photoshop.
The best Photoshop alternative: Affinity Photo
- No subscription
- Clean design
- Lightweight program
- Available on iPad
- Includes Lightroom
- More advanced features
While Adobe has been slow in updating the Photoshop iPad app with the desktop app, Affinity Photo now has a full version of the iPad. While the user interface has been redesigned for the iPad, Affinity Photo has the same tools in the mobile app as on Windows and Mac. But also for photographers who don’t own an iPad, Affinity Photo offers one of the longest list of functions of all alternatives to Photoshop.
Affinity Photo and Photoshop have a lot in common, including non-destructive layer editing and RGB and CMYK color spaces. However, there is a clear difference between the programs – because while Photoshop costs $ 10 a month, Affinity Photo has a one-time fee of $ 50.This means that Affinity users can pay once and are ready, while Photoshop users lose access to their current program. cancel subscription. However, they also automatically upgrade to the latest version without any additional upgrade costs. Despite additional updates to Affinity Photos for free, the transition from version 1.0 to 2.0 is not possible.
As a newer program, Affinity Photo starts off with a cleaner, more modern design – many users have said that the program feels more like a mobile app. Affinity Photo’s developers know that the program is in direct competition with industry standards. So the company is working to incorporate all the basic functions Photoshop is known for. The two programs are not the same, but Affinity Photo still includes many more complex tools, such as: B. Photo merge for HDR composite, panoramas, and focusing. Layers and masking are also an important part of Affinity.
But Photoshop still has a few advantages over Affinity. Resizing layers is easier and EXIF data can be edited beforehand. Photoshop also offers a familiar user interface for experienced editors, lots of tutorials, and lots of add-ons. Perhaps the biggest advantage to Photoshop is the easy integration with the RAW editor and Adobe Lightroom organizer, which is included in the subscription price when you sign up for a photography plan. Affinity’s parent company, Serif, also offers Affinity Designers and Publishers, but there’s no RAW management program to compete with Lightroom.
The best free Photoshop alternative: GNU Image Manipulation Program
- Lightweight program
- Includes most basic and mid-level editing controls
- Non-destructive adjustment layers
- More advanced tools
- Frequent updates
- Cost includes Lightroom, cloud storage
GIMP has some of the same tools as Photoshop. Layer editing is possible, so GIMP can do more than just edit crops and colors. Many advanced changes, such as locale correction, error correction, and object deletion, can easily be completed in an open-source program. While other free programs cut, repaint, and apply filters, GIMP has tools powerful enough to be considered a true competitor to Photoshop.
Of course, the free programs have never met the industry’s paid standards. Although GIMP includes many of the most commonly used tools, it lacks some features. For example, the Healing Brush has one option while Photoshop Brush has four. GIMP also lacks a nondestructive correction layer correction, where changes can be undone or changed later without affecting the rest of the edits. GIMP usually stands behind Photoshop’s newest tools too. Some of the new options won’t be added to free programs until years later. GIMP is a graphic design program that does not support Photoshop – CMYK.
The user interface of GIMP is good or bad depending on how you look at it. As an open source format, the user interface is unprofessional and as elegant as Photoshop. However, because there aren’t many tools, the program can feel a little less intimidating, and it also offers more customization options.
GIMP can’t exactly replace all of Photoshop’s features, but it’s the open-source program closest to Adobe’s performance, and it does it for free. For more information on how to compare, check out our Photoshop vs GIMP comparison.
The best Photoshop and Lightroom alternative: Corel PaintShop Pro
Corel PaintShop Pro
- Windows Only
- Cheaper, with no subscription
- Multiple interface modes
Corel PaintShop Pro is an alternative to Photoshop that’s also linked to a Lightroom alternative called AfterShot Pro. Like other competitors, Corel caters to frustrated consumers paying monthly fees by offering a one-time price. AfterShot Pro comes with $ 100 Corel PaintShop Pro and the update for current users is $ 80. Unlike Photoshop, PaintShop Pro is only available for Windows.
Corel PaintShop Pro is a more advanced corporate photo editor, but it tries to bridge the gap between the ease of use and advanced functionality using the Essentials control panel. This mode is intended for beginners. However, if you need more advanced tools, they are only available by switching modes. This option can make it easier for beginners to jump into PaintShop Pro while also providing room for growth.
PaintShop Pro 2020 adds a photo workspace with special tools for photo editing workflows. The update also provides the ability to fine-tune brushes for better selection when working with composites. The new content based cloning tool is also part of the latest version.
Although PaintShop Pro includes a number of the same tools as Photoshop, including layer editing, Photoshop is still best for content adjustments. Photoshop has tools like Face-Aware Liquify, which provide a more stable content fill than Magic Fill, which can be used to fill an image area based on the surrounding content. Adobe Camera RAW also has more tools than the RAW converter included with PaintShop, although if you choose the package with AfterShot it’s no big deal. However, PaintShop has a few options that aren’t part of Photoshop, including combining it with PhotoMirage to animate stills and automatic painting to instantly transform a photo into another drawing style or work of art.
The best Photoshop alternative for ease of use: Pixelmator Pro
- MacOS Only
- Simple interface
- Machine learning tools
- iCloud compatible
- Includes Lightroom and Adobe Camera RAW
- Supports HDR, GIFs, actions
- Supports CMYK
- More advanced tools
- MacOS and Windows
One of the top-rated desktop photo editors on the Mac App Store, Pixelmator Pro is a macOS-only editor that’s billed as a set of “professional-grade photo editing tools that anyone can use.” An optimized program doesn’t have all the power of Photoshop, but it can easily stand out from other editing applications, which are useful for beginners. Originally developed for Mac, Mac users immediately feel comfortable with the simple user interface and enjoy various functions such as seamless integration with iCloud. And unlike Photoshop, Pixelmator Pro only costs $ 40 as a one-time download.
Despite the lower price point, Pixelmator Pro still includes a variety of different photo editing tools. Of course, it covers the basics like cropping, exposure compensation, and color correction, but also adds some more advanced features. Layers are included – and without damage – along with brush and retouching tools, as well as compatibility with popular file types such as PSD, PNG, HEIF, and TIFF.
Pixelmator Pro is a much younger app than Photoshop, but regularly adds new features and enhances others. Several recent enhancements have been focused on machine learning, including one tool for enlarging photos and another for removing noise.
While Pixelmator Pro is not a simple photo editor for beginners, Adobe Photoshop wins out on several fronts when it comes to more complex editing. Pixelmator Pro does not support creating GIF files. While you can combine HDR images manually, it lacks Photoshop’s auto-alignment feature. There are also various time-saving features such as: B. Actions in Photoshop that save your workflow and apply it to future images.
As we’ve seen with many other competing models, the Pixelmator Pro also doesn’t have an alternative to Lightroom, which Photoshop offers another bonus. Unlike the original Pixelmator, Pixelmator Pro supports RAW files. With the RAW option, the Pro version is likely worth $ 10 for most users and is a better alternative to Photoshop.
Do you really need Photoshop?
While no one can deny that Photoshop defines the photo editing game, it is no longer the only option available for image editors at all levels. Photoshop maintains its title as the industry standard and often includes the most advanced features available. If you desperately need most photo editing tools with mixed graphic design options, Photoshop is still the one. While subscriptions are an exception for many photographers on a budget, Photoshop comes with Lightroom for just $ 10 a month, which in our opinion is a very reasonable price.
Of course, Photoshop may not be the best choice for everyone, especially if you don’t want to take advantage of its many advanced features. If all you want to do is do a little searching or trimming, there’s probably no reason to pay a monthly fee to access Photoshop. Beginners are often lucky enough to start with a few simple programs with basic editing features because they don’t need or know about all the advanced tools that come with Photoshop. You can always take advantage of advanced features and invest as you learn more and can afford to invest.
Affinity Photo is the highest paying alternative to Photoshop, and we especially love that it has an iPad version. PaintShop is one of the best for Windows users because PaintShop also provides you with a RAW processor and controller. Pixelmator is a great choice for macOS users who want an affordable yet powerful app, while GIMP is available for Linux alongside macOS and Windows – and at an unbeatable price tag.