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.