Saturday, March 7, 2020

Moving on

Tragically my laptop fell on the floor last week and dented the corner of the display causing terrible black outs, horizontal line textures and colour variations throughout the screen. I've since acquired a replacement but I am faced once again with the dilemma of needing Photoshop but not feeling that Adobe prices their applications appropriately--their Creative Cloud system looks like a nightmare.

So I have been looking for a replacement for Photoshop and research has led me to trials for Affinity Photo and Pixelmator Pro. Despite article claims that they are very similar/intuitive/better than Photoshop, the learning curve on these programs begs to differ. Thus far I am not satisfied with either program but I reckon that is more likely due to the 20 years I spent using Photoshop and not because these new applications are all that bad.

I decided to do a comparison and edit an older photo in each program to see what it was like. I'm probably going to continue my research by watching video tutorials since neither program is particularly transparent about how to do things I want and what exactly is happening.

I randomly chose a photo of Diamond for this experiment because I was just grabbing the first thing I saw that wasn't overly complicated visually just to see what editing colours and exposure was like.

This is the original, unedited RAW image that I chose to edit. 

1. Affinity Photo 

I had seen that overall, Affinity Photo appeared to be the favourite PS replacement so I decided to go with that program first.

I have to say that the learning curve on this one was particularly awful in comparison. I find that programs with a lot of capabilities tend to have very cluttered windows without explanation as to what anything does which makes figuring things out time consuming and frustrating. It had some immediate similarities to PS in its layout, but I found that only more confusing than helpful.

It was able to edit colours fairly easily, though I found there were a lot of steps and undoing required to get the hang of what I wanted to do.

This is the photo edited in Affinity Photo.

2. Pixelmator Pro

This program was drastically different than PS which made it a tad daunting as well, but it was much quicker to get the hang of things. Overall it seems the major differences I experienced with these two were either UI related or came down to the different editing options available. 

Pixelmator Pro had the addition of some editing styles to make photos look more interesting without having to make them from scratch which was an interesting thing to see. Light leaks, bokeh, blur, liquify, warp, all were options that were pretty much ready to go just by selecting them. I think I would have more fun using these features but I also feel that I would get bored of them very quickly.

When it comes to editing the colours, it's not the same set up as Affinity Photo. While AP has taken inspiration from PS with their sliders, Pixelmator Pro instead had some strange orbs used for editing lightness/darkness as well as colour. A nice feature was that they often give you the choice to separate shadows, midtones and highlights from a lot of their editing tools allowing you to adjust a portion of the image instead of all of it at once in a way that is more accessible than PS and AP. I'm not sure if the easier design of these tools has also affected the amount that you can edit in comparison to AP, but I was also trying not to edit to exactly the same settings in both, and was instead trying to see which was easier to use when editing. 

This is the photo edited in Pixelmator Pro.
In the end I haven't really come that much closer to making a decision. Pixelmator Pro is currently in the lead simply because it was less frustrating to use at the beginning, but I worry about what its limitations are because of that. 

Ultimately neither of these will really be an adequate replacement for PS for any of the other things that I like to do that aren't photo editing so this may all be a pointless endeavour anyway. 

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