Photoshop is one of the most popular image editing proprietary software, with extensive capabilities and a rather un-affordable price! It will be interesting for you to note that most of the Photoshop copies running on thousands of computers are illegal, that seems to be obvious as even professionals cannot afford to buy such an expensive piece of software. On the other hand, GIMP, photo manipulation software is a free counterpart that is fairly popular in the Linux circle. GIMP is preinstalled on some Linux
distributions or it can be installed with great ease. In this post we will draw a comparison between the two softwares! The debate is old yet it interests many. In this post we will compare the two softwares, according to current standards.
Both GIMP and PS are aimed at raster image editing and are also capable to use vector drawn paths and shapes.
1- Basic editing is the same for both the softwares: Photoshop and GIMP, both provide basic set of tools for image editing. Equivalent quality image editing can be accomplished in both the softwares. Also, if you are to create images for the web than both softwares will do a similar job.
2- Advanced Features, do you need them? Photoshop is loaded with excessive features as compared to GIMP. But here it must be noted that an average user does not require sophisticated editing capabilities and only handful of people use these advanced features. Trivial jobs do not need such cumbersome and expensive software. On this other hand, Gimp comes with essential ones and capabilities can be extended as required. Additional features can be added via plugins and extensions and hence you can tailor the software according to your requirements of image manipulation. If you are inclined to explore with GIMP, then it will let you accomplish any job that you can do with PS. You can experiment with advanced filters and the Python-scripted filter stacks that are surely great.
Additionally, you may have to pay for extra set of filters and plugins when working with PS while they are completely freely available on GIMP. GIMP is far more freinldy to plugins. On the contrary, Ps is likely to crash if you load many fonts, burshes or plugins.
The bit-depth issue:
Photoshop supports 16 and 32 bit images while GIMP only supports 8 bit. However the functionality of GIMP can be extended via GEGL (The Generic Graphics Library or GEGL is a programming library under development for image processing applications). With GEGL, GIMP can be supports 16-bit image depth at most. However, most users have reported that they rarely feel the absence of this feature.
Most of digital camera images use a maximum of 16.7 million colors. According to an estimate there are only 3% of advanced users that use high bit-depth images of 16 or more bits per channel. Hence, we can say that only 3% of the crowd actually needs Photoshop.
CMYK is a subtractive color (four color) model used in color printing. You particularly need this color model to be supported in image editing software if you require your graphics to be printed, when color is critical for the images you produce. Photoshop has an advance support for CMYK. Earlier, many literatures have said that GIMP lacks this feature. However this is not the case. GIMP has some CMYK support that can be downloaded separately. But, yes we can say that the support is not as advance as in Photoshop, yet GIMP seems to accomplish the job. GIMP also does just with graphics produced for printing on your inkjet at home or at a kiosk (or any printers that use RGB drivers)
3- PS is Large in size to download, as compared to GIMP: GIMP set-up is just about 20 MB, while Photoshop is large, extra large disk-space. As recommended, you must have 1GB of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation (cannot install on removable flash storage devices) for Photoshop!
4- System Requirements, GIMP wins again: Photoshop is heavy software that might make it slow on your system. GIMP, in contrast is very fast and does not require much of system resources.
5- Size on disk, minimal with GIMP: You will require just some free space (usually as low as 20 MB) on your disk to download and install GIMP. While to download and install Photoshop you need space in Gbs.
6-System Resources, GIMP is lighter: Photoshop is very heavy on system resources. The minimum recommended RAM to run GIMP is only 128 Mb. While Photoshop CS 5 requires 1 GB of RAM!!
7- Platform support, GIMP wins again: GIMP is integrated in most Linux distros. It can be downloaded on Windows or Mac while Photoshop is available only for Mac and Windows. However you download and run the application on Linux as well.
8- Portability: GIMP being perfectly compact software and small in size and therefore it is portable. You can run it from USB stick or devices such as MS Xbox with ease. This is not possible with giant software like Photoshop.
9- With GIMP you can read and edit the PSD files of Photoshop. But Photoshop does not support GIMP’s native file format i.e. XCF files.
10- Customization: As stated earlier, the software can be tailored according to the requirements of user. The GUI is completely customizable and can be minimal. If you like the Photoshop UI then you can make your GIMp look like that too!
11- Support: Like all open source softwares, GIMP has a tremendous support. That you won’t find with Photoshop. General techniques for image editing, applies to both the softwares. And therefore most Ps tutorials can be used as reference for GIMP.
12- Continually evolving: Like another OS, GIMP is continuously evolving i.e. even if you find a feature that is not in GIMP and present in Photoshop it is very much possible that it will be there in the upcoming releases as the software is continuously developing and adding features to it.
13- Finally the Price! Price plays a decisive role in evaluating the capabilities of the two softwares. GIMP is completely free while Ps is as expensive as 700 USD. The point being, why pay so much for excessive features that you don’t actually need! And when the functionalities can be downloaded freely when ever required! Specially for the people who are amateur and are embarking their journey on image editing Ps is highly priced. Moreover, if you are starting a small advertising business you might not want to invest as much only for the software in the business.
To conclude, instead of pirating Photoshop, its better to use open-source software i.e. GIMP, for image editing yielding comparable results. Photoshop has some tremendous capabilities, this fact cannot be denied however these capabilities are hardly needed for average to advance users. Photoshop, is only aimed at a very specific bunch of people who really are experts. Nevertheless, GIMP too can be used by experts the difference being that Photoshop might be able to accomplish some tasks easily while with GIMP you will have to take a long route!