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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

DPP Solutions: Do You Still Need Photoshop?

It’s the pro standard because of its power and features, but other options may be a better choice for many imaging tasks

The gold standard for photographers has been Photoshop since its introduction. Today, after more than a dozen major releases, it's the most powerful imaging software ever developed. But not every image needs the full Photoshop treatment, and there are a number of alternatives that are cost-effective and won't bog down your system. This is especially useful if you want to do some work on a laptop, which isn't as powerful as your studio setup. Many of the traditional and most useful tools of Photoshop are included, but in much smaller and less resource-intensive overall packages.

ACDSee Pro 4

ACDSee Pro 4 keeps your workflow minimal for working through lots of pictures quickly and effectively. The interface is built to follow the logical steps of image management for large groups of files, with a workflow streamlined into four customizable modes for working through images: Manage, View, Process and Online. Files are referenced rather than imported, which means that you can start working on them almost immediately, and you also can leave them on unattached drives and memory cards for working with later. ACDSee Pro is available for Mac and Windows. List Price: $169 (ACDSee Pro 4 for Mac); $249 (ACDSee Pro 4 for Windows).

Adobe Lightroom 3

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is highly regarded for combining an easy-to-understand interface with the image-editing tools that we use most on a regular basis. At $299, it's ideal for pros to use as a day-to-day companion to Photoshop. The program places an emphasis on fast image processing of multiple files with its five modules: Library, Develop, Slideshow, Print and Web. There's a selection of presets that also can be adjusted, saved and published manually. Lightroom has support for video files. It can perform a variety of adjustments like watermarking, lens correction and film grain simulation. List Price: $299 (Mac and Windows).

Apple Aperture 3

Apple's Aperture 3 is now a full editing solution that foregoes many of Photoshop's complexities at an incredibly low price. You can buy a digital download through the Mac App Store. Aperture has a simple interface, nondestructive editing without layers, and GPS-enabled library organizational capabilities. This generation of Aperture has stronger image-editing tools and selective retouching for localizing adjustments than previous versions. Adjustments that are applied to one image can be applied to any other image or images. You can save your presets. List Price: $79 (Mac only).


ACD Systems
Nik Software

Nik Viveza 2

The heart of Viveza 2 is Nik Software's U Point technology, which lets you set control points that you place in the epicenter of an area that needs adjustment. The control points automatically analyze the surrounding area so that specific aspects of the image can be controlled by simply clicking and dragging sliders to adjust color, light, contrast and tonality. You can alter your changes easily at anytime just by moving the sliders again, and you can make universal adjustments to grouped control points or delete them altogether after you've performed other adjustments to the image. Overall, this is incredibly efficient, and it eliminates the need for complex masking, plus you can see changes as they're made. Additionally, you can zoom into
the image for incredibly precise localized adjustments. List Price: $99 (Mac and Windows).


Pixelmator offers Mac users more than 20 tools, including brushes, transforming tools, selection tools and layers and masks, not to mention 15 tools for color correction alone. This svelte collection of tools gives you powerful image-enhancement abilities, and it's layers-based. Pixelmator performs layers and masking simply. You can drag and drop portions of an image to stack them together as editable layers. These layers then can be blended together with sliders for opacity and masking. List Price: $59 (Mac only).



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