Why GIMP wins over Photoshop

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is an iconic example of successful free software for image management in the age of Digital Photography. Thanks largely to some advanced software such as GIMP and some proprietary photo imaging software such as Photoshop – creating and editing photos, artwork – is now not just for professionals and Film Studios but for personal use as well.

Though there is a sizeable market for Photoshop, at the heart of digital photos industry are experts who swear by the scope and wide-ranging flexibility GIMP offers them. Be it filters that allow them to start artwork from scratch, GIMP to many users, is more than an ‘image manipulation’ tool. Because, if the need arises all it takes are personalized scripts that can render the desired effect professionals are aiming for- Versatility remains GIMP’s core feature.

Add to it high-performance features such as better gradient tool, an expert lasso tool and definitely a better ink tool; Drag handles for both rectangle /ellipse select tools, and you have all the right function-features that are not so comfortable to use on Photoshop. GIMP definitely makes for quicker and more intuitive use.

While Photoshop does offer a ‘well-packaged’ software for professional photographers as against the ‘upgrades and support’ by GIMP developer community, GIMP becomes a more comfortable software to use as it overcomes, Photoshop’s sluggishness on even slightly older software. GIMP remains- fast and easy to install (is much smaller than Photoshop).

You can forget about using curves tools in Photoshop, over an open window. For one, it will not allow you, and besides, it is embedded in not in the Colors menu as in GIMP, but in the image-adjustments menu!

However, this is not to say Photoshop is not good as a technical tool. It is, but at the price tag and bundled features it offers, GIMP wins hands down because of the free-to-use licensing it adopts.

A great deterrent in using Photoshop is the very strict licensing stipulations; it becomes expensive and limits the number of users.  Free-to-use GIMP does not squabble about the number of people using its software and instead encourages greater user adoption, propagating FOSS philosophy.

Probably, where GIMP, really makes the difference is in the ‘right click’ on an image to get to a menu, which incidentally are not more than a layer deep. In Photoshop the multi-layered drop down menu, which are not accessible on open windows, do not just limit the user experience, but are actually frustrating in the long run.

Photoshop is definitely, it has to accepted, smoother but GIMP does make up for the jerks in paintbrush cloning with the undistracted work flow it makes possible- cloning, scaling more quicker, easier and intuitive.

Where GIMP truly wins over Photoshop would be its portability. It can go on CD’s, memory sticks and sometimes the Xbox 360 (Microsoft) as well. GIMP UI small real-estate, CMYK and 3D-features does give it the scope of a Photoshop package but with the expensive price-tag.

  • CharlstonChew

    i’m sick and tired of ever-more-bloated Photoshop.  I’m guessing pretty soon there is going to be many folks jumping the adobe boat as they move closely towards changing their *tarded pricing scheme to month-to-month basis and also putting Photoshop into the cloud.

  • Michael

    As a GIMP contributor, I feel offended by this article – it implies that GIMP development has the goal of defeating Photoshop, and makes lots of unverified claims about features that are better implemented in GIMP than Photoshop.

    Please, for the sake of the software you like, change the style of your articles.


  • Maria Wendt

     I didn’t get that impression, although you were right when you said that some of the claims were unverified. Anyways, I don’t think that the author was implying that GIMP development has the goal of defeating Photoshop.

  • Hehe

    Who cares if GIMP is 2mb, and Photoshop 2GB, lol… What is important, is the functionality and the outcomes that you can get.

  • http://jazzyjeph.wordpress.com/ jazzyjeph

     Who cares ? Anybody who has less than 2GB of RAM I guess and even if you have more in which case you’re on a 64Bit OS why would you want one program to consume so much RAM ?

  • Chris

    The disk size of a program has nothing to do with how much RAM it uses.
    If you have less than 2GB of RAM and you have enough money to buy a $500+ camera and Photoshop CS5, I’m sure you have enough money to drop $40 on a RAM upgrade.  That said, if you’re doing heavy photo editing, you should expect a modern PC to be an expense anyway.

    As far as RAM usage, I don’t care.  I’d like the software to use as much RAM as it needs.

  • jazzy jeph

     Er what ? “The disk size of a program” etc. I don’t mention Disk Size, who were you replying too ? your comment does not make sense. It isn’t just the cost of the RAM upgrade its the new Op Sys to use it as well.

  • Anon

    Please get out the cave you are living! :)

  • Jazzyjeph

     You missed a comma and your comment is meaningless

  • Mike

    so the point is gimp is better ’cause it is light and it has all the basic functions…I would rather go with photoshop if i have to choose between two. :)

  • JS

    Because the more of your application you keep in memory the faster the application will be. If Photoshop needs 2GB of RAM to load its entire codebase and does it, it is going to be faster than if GIMP needs 2GB for its codebase, but doesn’t load everything into memory. Photoshop is for professional work for people with a lot of money or for professional organizations. If you can afford the $700 for the application then you can afford 8GB of RAM. I agree with Hehe – the author of this article writes from the perspective of a non-professional downloading Photoshop via bittorrent, not a professional graphic designer. I’m not knocking GIMP, I use it exclusively, but this author’s article is not really relevant. GIMP is not a Photoshop replacement.

  • Anon

    It is a replacement for Photoshop. It’s far more powerful and anything you can do in Photoshop you can do in GIMP.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=718736204 Sam Werner

    For all those people bashing this article listen up.  Unless you get paid for a living to be a graphic designer, your claims of photoshop being better than gimp are unconventional.  If you have photoshop for your hobby photography you actually have an expensive toy and you wasted your money.  Yes, photoshop is for professionals but gimp is for the rest of us, the 95% of us. 

  • Lorddefinitia

    It ain’t a replacement, no….

    But it damn handy in a pinch. Free photo-editing software wherever you go (usb stick/portable software), and its certainly good enough. 99% of what you need to do can be done, for free, that’s not a bad deal.

    Certainly there are tons of fun things you can do as a “pro” in Photoshop, but they certainly aren’t necessary to the average joe, who, if he needs something like that, will probably either code it, pony up the 1000$, or pirate it (though I don’t condone this).

    Its also a great way to learn photo editing. Its much better for people to use Gimp till they can afford Photoshop (assuming they want to) than to go around pirating software.

  • veeman

    I don’t think the Average Joe knows how to program.

  • Jonahquist

     I’m sorry but this article is flat out wrong. GIMP cannot and will not exceed Photoshop ever. The reason is Adobe is fortune 500 company who can pour disgusting amounts of money into their product and enhance it to the point where it’s in a completely different class. The only reason to use GIMP is if you are too poor to afford Photoshop. Based on feature set alone GIMP shrivels in comparison. Photoshop blows The GIMP out of the ground. Aside from the dozens of
    brushes, filters, and other features, Photoshop’s Extension framework
    and it’s large user base provide a plethora of additional features. The
    GIMP also has a plugin framework, but ti not as widely used to the small
    userbase of GIMP. Photoshop’s filters are also more easily controlled
    and understood, producing better final results. GIMP is just a sad example of how futile developing free software to compete with the industry standard is.

  • Jonahquist

    GIMP’s extraction filter is flat out awful, and Photoshop generally renders better. The 2GB ram footprint comes with the miles of advancements PS has over GIMP.

  • Leonardo Pjetri

    Well if it isn’t it should be .. you want gimp to be the better choice don’t ya .. if you don’t stop contributing.

    But i agree with the second part of your protest the person writing this article has no insight, fair to say no idea what their talking about, Photoshop wins hands down in terms of feature rich and ease of use, saying that Gimp is not far behind and it is free, plus i can tell you with some assurance 70% of Photshops’s features are not used by the average user. They probably don’t know they exist unless you’ve used the program for years in all areas i.e photography, painting, 3d..etc. With that in mind Gimp is not short of features but rather sex appeal, the interface looks old and unappealing it should be more compact and easy to access, the program does not inspire confidence  it feels as tho you’re not using the best tool for the job. Blender was suffering from the same problem, tho it has raised its gamed recently as a result gained in popularity. 

  • Anon’s Friend

    Surely he could borrow one from the article, there’s quite a few extra in there!

  • ulon

    Well said, Totally agree.
    Only reason to use GIMP is money. Feature like, photoshop has no match.

  • Charlie

    Well, I have to disagree. I can afford to buy Photoshop any day, but I don’t want to. I have an affection for Gimp that is would seem insane to anyone who didn’t know what I meant. I could choose to fit it with the rest of the world; become an Apple fanboy/snot, but I don’t choose to. I love not conforming. I love the Gimp community and the sense that we are all in this adventure together. You don’t have that with Photoshop. The only think I don’t like about Gimp is the name; it can be awkward to certain audiences.

  • Disgusted

    It’s a shame that this article and its comments aren’t in any way helpful. The language used is not to validate merits of one SW over the other, it is about have and have-not. This is another example of class warfare. But if you need to feel superior because you spent a lot of money on a program, or you need to be a Bohemian living off of love and open source, then you are not focused on the values of these products. This article suits these folks just fine…they have something to argue over. I was looking for a feature table that would help me to determine tool equivalences as I learn BOTH environs.

  • Madhav

    Yeah, well Photoshop is for professionals. But the thing is, GIMP is great too for those who don’t have, like $700 to blow, and well……Indulging in piracy to download stuff through torrents just feels wrong. And, well, GIMP has a better lasso tool :D


    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!
    Click Here: 10 Reasons GIMP is Better Than Photoshop