After taking a photography course, I’ve been curious about editing photos, especially in the Raw format (more on that later). I’ve used GIMP for around 5 years, and am pretty comfortable with it for simple things, but from watching a few videos (this one is pretty excellent), it seemed to me like Photoshop Elements might have some significant advantages.
After seeing a physical copy on sale at Amazon for $49.99 on sale at Amazon (with Prime), I decided to take the plunge. The hard copy seems to go on sale intermittently, as with the downloadable version, so I’d suggest watching it for a while if it’s not.
After playing with Photoshop for less than a day, I can see that I was definitely right about it being a more polished experience. The two seem similar, but Photoshop just feels better to use. There are a few advantages to GIMP though, so read on to see my comparison and some before/after photos.
GIMP vs Photoshop Elements 13 – Advantages for Photoshop
- Grid lines are very good when cropping, allowing you to employ the “rule of thirds” as seen in This book (Amazon – also linked of side of page)
- Auto photo enhancements are quite good
- Resizing using the original photo ratio is easier
- Feels similar to GIMP if you’re used to it, with layers, the color picker, and other options are similarly formatted
- When you select “new,” you can place the image directly from clipboard. This is a huge advantage when trying to manipulate screenshots.
- Single window design is great (GIMP users will know what I’m talking about)
- Ability to easily edit Raw files
GIMP vs Photoshop Elements 13 – advantages for GIMP
- I had to register with Adobe to install the software. This is pretty annoying when I’ve actually paid for the software.
- Costs more i.e. not free
- I had a little bit of trouble installing it
- Resizing to a certain pixel width/height isn’t immediately obvious. A box has to be checked.
- zooming with mouse wheel required pressing ‘alt.’
- One photo when scaled left some white dots around it.
Raw format images (Wikipedia article) are sometimes described as a “digital negative” because they consist of data straight out of the camera’s sensor, and are not processed into something your computer can readily view. As such, you can change things such as white balance after the fact. Photoshop lets you adjust things natively in this format, which is something that I haven’t experimented that much with, but seems like an excellent tool.
All things considered, I don’t regret using GIMP for the simple crops and such that I’ve done for this website and others. It’s really quite good at that kind of thing. The skills that I’ve learned with GIMP seem to transfer quite naturally to Photoshop, and I’m looking forward to better looking photos! For $50, I definitely don’t regret my decision to buy this package so far.