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Jagella
12-31-2008, 05:08 PM
I suppose there may be at least two major impressions that anybody who has used Adobe Photoshop might have.


Photoshop is a huge, very powerful program.
Photoshop has a huge price.


Photoshop CS3 for Windows, the version I use, goes for as much as $649.49 on Amazon.com. Despite the high price, many design professionals and enthusiasts think the cost is worth it, and Photoshop has become the industry standard. I really like Photoshop and have used it for years in my hobby and business design work. My school, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, requires I use it for my school work.

But what if you're not required to use Photoshop and don't wish to spend that much money? Is it possible to get its functionality without going broke?

Yes and no. I recently received an email newsletter from a business I've bought products from. This business offers a lot of products that seem to offer a lot for the price. In that newsletter they offered a program that is “virtually identical” to Photoshop for under $11. The program is called PhotoDesigner Pro. Of course I was skeptical that it can do everything Photoshop can do for so little, but I was really curious to see for myself and bought a copy.

Once I received and installed the program, I immediately recognized the elements it has in common with Photoshop. It has layers, adjustment layers, brushes, and a history panel. You can adjust using Levels, Color Balance, Replace Color, and many other adjustments included in Photoshop. It has tools to crop, select, move, and smudge parts of your image. Its filters or “Effects” include Gaussian Blur, Unsharp Mask, Add (noise), and Lighting Effects as well as Effects that are equivalent to Photoshop's Artistic filters.

What really impressed me is PhotoDesigner Pro's ability to work with Photoshop's native file format, PSD. You can create, save, and open PSD files. The files I have created using Photoshop open in PhotoDesigner Pro without a hitch, and all layers are intact.

Not surprisingly, there's a lot this program lacks that Photoshop has. Photoshop's interface is much more powerful and has many more keyboard shortcuts. You'll also give up a lot of filters using PhotoDesigner Pro. PhotoDesigner Pro's text editing abilities, while barely adequate, are downright primitive compared to Photoshop's. Photoshop essentially has PhotoDesigner Pro beat across the board by a wide margin as far as functionality is concerned.

So what's my verdict? It depends. If money is tight for you, and you'd like to do a lot of imaging at a very low price, then I'd recommend PhotoDesigner Pro. If you're a professional or an enthusiast who wants the best, then Photoshop has no equal.

Here's a screen shot (http://freeforalldesigns.com/graphics/PhotoDesignerScreenShot.jpg).

Jagella

SteveC
12-31-2008, 07:35 PM
It all comes down to knowing ones marketplace and meeting the needs of that group of people... this is what Photoshop does, it is by far the best program out there and CS4 is actually mind blowing and saves an awful lot of time... the functionality and time saving features more than make up for it's price tag... hence photoshops dominance of the graphic design industry.

orion_joel
12-31-2008, 08:05 PM
The real poor mans option to replace Photoshop is GIMP, which is actually free. However, i come to the same conclusion as your Jagella, while there may be many similar features there is also a lot that it lacks in comparison to Photoshop.

The difference in the amount of time it took to do just the few things i have tried to do in GIMP, to what it would take in Photoshop was quite substantial, one command has two different names in both phpshop and GIMP, and others things do not work in the same fashion. So really while photoshop is expensive, if you spend a lot of time with your graphics program, then i would highly suggest spending the extra money, you will have saved the amount of time worth the extra money in a matter of weeks.

vangogh
12-31-2008, 10:33 PM
Every so often I try another program, but I always come back to Photoshop. It really deserves the place it has in the market. However if all I need to do is resize an image quick I can open up something else. Most of the time I'm still going to go straight to Photoshop. I haven't upgraded to CS4 yet, but I will be as soon as it's in the budget.

Jagella
01-01-2009, 12:09 AM
It all comes down to knowing ones marketplace and meeting the needs of that group of people... this is what Photoshop does, it is by far the best program out there and CS4 is actually mind blowing and saves an awful lot of time... the functionality and time saving features more than make up for it's price tag... hence photoshops dominance of the graphic design industry.

According to CNET (http://reviews.cnet.com/image-editing/adobe-photoshop-cs4/4505-3634_7-33255262.html?tag=mncol;lst), Photoshop CS4 is a great program, but they recommend skipping it if you're already using Photoshop CS3. I will probably take their advice. I generally don't upgrade software unless I need to. Heck, I'd still be using Photoshop CS if my school didn't require Creative Suite 3.

Jagella

Jagella
01-01-2009, 12:17 AM
The real poor mans option to replace Photoshop is GIMP, which is actually free. However, i come to the same conclusion as your Jagella, while there may be many similar features there is also a lot that it lacks in comparison to Photoshop.

The difference in the amount of time it took to do just the few things i have tried to do in GIMP, to what it would take in Photoshop was quite substantial,

I thought somebody was going to mention GIMP. I haven't used GIMP, but I assume its interface is a lot different from Photoshop’s. Your comments back up my suspicion. PhotoDesigner Pro has an interface that's much like Photoshop’s. Hence my dubbing PhotoDesigner Pro, “the poor-man's Photoshop.”

And yes, spending more time using software can hit you in the money belt. As strange as it may seem, Photoshop can be economical in the long run despite its high purchase price. It would be very interesting to see the TCO of Photoshop compared to these less expensive or free programs.

Jagella

Jagella
01-01-2009, 12:21 AM
I haven't upgraded to CS4 yet, but I will be as soon as it's in the budget.

You might want to hold off on that upgrade, Steve, unless you work in 3D. CNET (http://reviews.cnet.com/image-editing/adobe-photoshop-cs4/4505-3634_7-33255262.html?tag=mncol;lst) says to skip the upgrade otherwise.

Jagella

orion_joel
01-01-2009, 05:45 AM
I think that GIMP has it's place and to be honest the layout is similar to photoshop, but i just found that some simple tasks seem to take me a lot longer to figure out in GIMP. Also sometimes i would do what i thought was the same thing, but would get different results.

cbscreative
01-01-2009, 04:55 PM
Since no one mentioned this yet, I thought it should be part of the discussion. Every Suite sold by Adobe has Photoshop, and Suites are much better value than individual programs. The Premium Suites have Photoshop Extended which retails for $1000 if purchased separately. I don't use most of the 3D and other additional features of Extended, but it's still nice to have.

As for CS4, I have struggled with the decision to upgrade. I think overall it will be worth it. Some of the changes were things I was hoping for even though I never filled out a survey to tell Adobe my wish list. One example is the ability to edit a "path" in Flash animations. To that I can only say, "It's about time!" Up until this new version, segments of an animation could only go from point A to point B in a straight line with no other options. Now you can edit an animation path, which could be a big time saver.

As for Photoshop, I disagree with the CNET assessment. If you work with the Photomerge feature, which I do, I noticed they improved it from CS3. I was very impressed with this feature as I can only imagine how many programming hours must have gone into creating it. Not surprisingly, it wasn't perfect, and I doubt even CS4 is either. But they have corrected some of the flaws in it. I see a lot of other time savers designed into the program too and I look forward to upgrading.

I've got very mixed feelings on some of the changes made to former Macromedia programs, but at the same time, I can see where they want to have them all more uniform in thier user interfaces. I just would have preferred making Adobe programs more MM like than making the MM programs more Adobe like. They did adapt some of the MM thinking, but I wish they had taken it further because I always preferred the MM approach.

I still say there is no substitute for Photoshop though.

SteveC
01-01-2009, 05:27 PM
According to CNET (http://reviews.cnet.com/image-editing/adobe-photoshop-cs4/4505-3634_7-33255262.html?tag=mncol;lst), Photoshop CS4 is a great program, but they recommend skipping it if you're already using Photoshop CS3. I will probably take their advice. I generally don't upgrade software unless I need to. Heck, I'd still be using Photoshop CS if my school didn't require Creative Suite 3.

Jagella

I don't take much notice of what CNET have to say, we tend to form our own opinions here, based on the work we do on a day to day basis... Here is the LINK (http://www.cyber-aspect.com/sreviews/software_reviews.asp?rev=147)to the review we wrote.

You should also remember that the cost of upgrading is a business expense... so the actual cost is not all that important as long as you can justify it.

Dan Furman
01-01-2009, 09:48 PM
I feel the same way about MS Word - many think it's overpriced, and many scramble for a cheaper alternative, but for a writer (especially a copywriter, where layout and styles are important), there's simply no substitute. Loving Word 2007. A lot.

I find Photoshop Elements suffices for me - but I don't work in graphics besides resizing, adding some text, etc - generally small stuff like that. But I do like the functionality / power that it has over the cheaper alternatives. For me, it's the perfect mix of power and price.

cbscreative
01-01-2009, 10:05 PM
Dan, the needs of the user are most definitely an issue. I've never used PS Elements, but I understand it to be a very good program. Several years ago, I worked a little in Paint Shop Pro and I thought it was an excellent program for the price. When you don't need all the power of Photoshop, those are very good choices.

Jagella
01-02-2009, 12:12 AM
Every Suite sold by Adobe has Photoshop. The Premium Suites have Photoshop Extended which retails for $1000 if purchased separately.

Steve, I just checked the store at my school, and I get the entire CS4 bundle for $589.98, or just Photoshop CS4 Extended for $179.98. Send me a PM if you'd like to know more.


I still say there is no substitute for Photoshop though.

For professional imaging, yes, but hobbyists should look elsewhere.

Jagella

orion_joel
01-02-2009, 12:36 AM
I believe that in general while there are many people that do dislike the large companies, and the programs they offer purely because of the price. There really is little that really compete's on a similar level in either the open source or relatively low price market.

I have tried using alternative's to microsoft office. I tried Lotus suite about 10 years ago, and it did have some good features, however it just did not do as much, probably the best tool in the suite was the screen capture, which i used quite a few times. I also gave open office a try, and again it was not to bad, but it just did not compare to what i could do with office.

Despite the cost the i find that i am happy to pay it for most of the program's from office and Adobe, which i do find are worth the price.

Jagella
01-02-2009, 11:12 AM
I don't take much notice of what CNET have to say, we tend to form our own opinions here, based on the work we do on a day to day basis... Here is the LINK (http://www.cyber-aspect.com/sreviews/software_reviews.asp?rev=147)to the review we wrote.

I often check the Amazon.com customer reviews (http://www.amazon.com/review/product/B001EUIWGY/ref=cm_cr_dp_all_helpful?%5Fencoding=UTF8&coliid=&showViewpoints=1&colid=&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending), and there are a lot of complaints about Photoshop CS4's performance. The program is also buggy for some users. I'd recommend downloading the trial version first before buying the full version or the upgrade.

Jagella

cbscreative
01-02-2009, 02:55 PM
Somehow, the bugginess does not surprise me. First of all, there were only about 18 months between the releases of CS3 and CS4. I think Adobe may be pushing it too much.

There is also the issue of operating systems. Let me use CorelDRAW as an example. Version 9 released back in 1999 was among the best they ever made. It had functionality that we didn't see in Adobe products even 5 years later. Some of the "cool new features" of CS3 were things CorelDRAW 9 would do.

But, I was never fully pleased with CorelDRAW 11. It was somewhat buggy and not nearly as stable as 9. I always suspected the reason for this was that they sought to support all operating systems (11 used the same disk for both PC and Mac). It is far too easy to resort to trade-offs. In order to make it work on both Mac and PC, I believe they probably had to give up stability in favor of compatibility.

Beginning with version 12, Corel made the decision to drop support for Mac. This didn't come without criticism, but I think it was a good decision. I didn't upgrade to 12, but I did to X3 (version 13). I have been very pleased with X3, and I think the fact that they primarily concerned themselves with Windows XP has helped make the product better.

So now that we have CS4 which has to be compatible with Mac, XP, Vista, and maybe others. The bugs seem fairly inevitable. Had Adobe waited at least 6 months and done more testing, it would probably be much more stable. Maybe that's why they offer the $200 price break on Suite Upgrades until the end of February, so they can use us as lab rats.

orion_joel
01-02-2009, 08:50 PM
Someone has to do the testing and they probably figure why pay people to test it for us when the whole world will pay us to test it. This actually seems to be like Microsoft's path, then 4 months later release a service pack, and let the world do another round of testing.

Jagella
01-03-2009, 12:13 AM
Had Adobe waited at least 6 months and done more testing, it would probably be much more stable. Maybe that's why they offer the $200 price break on Suite Upgrades until the end of February, so they can use us as lab rats.

But Steve, I'm one “rat” that knows better than to be captured too soon for laboratory experiments. For the foreseeable future I'll be gnawing on CS3.

http://www.vrealities.com/rat2.jpg

Jagella

cbscreative
01-03-2009, 01:04 PM
Right now this rat is still using CS3 also.

Jagella
01-03-2009, 04:15 PM
Right now this rat is still using CS3 also.

Sqeak--squeak. ;)

Jagella

Blessed
01-03-2009, 04:50 PM
I'm sticking with CS3 and Quark 7 for awhile longer too... maybe by the time I'm ready to upgrade I'll be taking a class on web design and can qualify for the student discounts... :D

orion_joel
01-03-2009, 07:51 PM
The main problem with the student discounted software, is that you are not suppose to use it for commercial purpose, however i am sure that some people do.

As for me i am still using Photoshop 7, as the amount i use compared to the price to purchase does not show the value for me. Maybe soon in the future, i may consider looking into it again.

cbscreative
01-04-2009, 01:23 AM
PS 7 is a good version. I was on 7 until I upgraded to CS3 and a couple of my computers are still on 7 yet. To be honest, I'm not all that quick to upgrade usually. I typically skip at least one version on most software. If I end up going to CS4, it will be about the first time I upgraded only one version. Going from CorelDRAW 8 to 9 ten years ago is the only other example that comes to mind.

orion_joel
01-04-2009, 03:16 AM
I think one of the only programs i have upgrade back to back versions is MS Office. Most of the others i have not seen to much need for upgrades as yet. Although if i was turning over enough income in my business i would probably buy some of the software purely because i could and to have some more expenses.

Vivid Color Zack
01-05-2009, 02:05 PM
Your goal is to have more expenses?

cbscreative
01-05-2009, 03:05 PM
Zack, I'm pretty sure Joel was referring to tax write-offs. I suspect a lot of software gets sold for that reason.

orion_joel
01-06-2009, 12:37 AM
Yes that is right Steve, In Australia, if you operate a company, under the company structure, you pay 36% tax on every dollar profit you business has. So if i had a need for it i would happily spend $5,000-$10,000 on software that i may use as while it would still be an expense it would bring down the tax bill by $1,800-$3,600 for that year. Which is a nice discount on the software.

For me as a sole trader, it makes a little difference but if i earn over over i think at the moment it is about $80,000 in a year, it saves me 48% tax rate, if i can keep taxable income under that mark.

Sorry a little off track, however i do imagine this is a reason why many people decide to buy some of the software that they do.