For the people here asking whether GIMP is good enough for what you're doing: Ars Technica did an excellent review of GIMP 2.6 about a year ago (EDIT: 2 years, but it's still the same major version). It's long, but well-worth reading and will answer your questions. It's written from the perspective of a professional who uses Photoshop, but does an excellent job of remaining balanced. This quote summarizes the review (and also my opinion) pretty nicely, I think:
I may seem to skew negative since I talk so much about what's missing, but
it's hard to dwell on what a program does well and not sound like a fawning
idiot. Most people who sit down to get image editing work done with GIMP
will not be disappointed. There is a ton of room for advanced work here.
While I don't follow it closely enough to really discuss GIMP's current development status, development does seem to have slowed significantly (purely from a user's perspective) in recent years. This is a real shame, since I think that for the most part it's an excellent program and in general I much prefer to work in GIMP over Photoshop. For all of its many flaws, I think it's a fantastic piece of software.
Actually, it matters regardless of output device. With higher bit depths, less rounding errors accumulate over time as the image is processed, for example when effects are applied, yielding higher overall output quality.
Here is an example, although after many iterations quality loss can be much more dramatic than visible in that picture: http://www.photoshopessentials.com/essentials/16-bit/page-3....
This could also be solved by another photoshop feature, adjustment layers. Basically instead of applying a filter like levels to an image you make a levels layer that applies the levels affect to everything underneath it. The original data is untouched, and you can tweak the levels at any time.
I'm strictly a hobby user for photos I take, but without support either 16 bit colour or adjustment layers GIMP is not good enough for me. My solution is to use an older student version of photoshop I picked up cheaply; I don't need all features in the latest version.
[Edit] I'm referring to the fact that fixed-precision arithmetic loses (well, stochastically speaking) precision with each operation. You can condense the layer effects and apply the 8-bit operation only once to minimize error. This is especially true if your layer combinator works at a higher level of precision than the layer operation itself.
[Edit 2] As an example, consider the layer operations "Multiply each channel by 0.5" and "Multiply each channel by 2." Applying these layers separately to a value loses something like a half bit of precision (more for smaller values, less for larger ones). A layer combinator could multiple 0.5 by 2 and yield ~1.0 (in general, subject to the floating point precision which is generally finer than the image precision). That results in a smaller error.
The logic is different. GIMP does not have to evolve in order to survive. It's open and if you need it doing something it doesn't, you can hire a developer to do it. The fact nobody does it is because it's good enough for what it's used for.
Open source economics are tricky.
True. That's why pooling resources is such a good idea. If you need a feature that's missing from Photoshop, you can find other people who need that feature (or would like to have it) and pool resources to hire someone to do it in GIMP. If you have a company with 10 seats using Photoshop, it may start to become cheaper to hire a GIMP developer than providing all employees with a Photoshop license (and Adobe must have corporate licenses exactly to counter that reasoning)
And what it's used for isn't the listed things because it can't do them. Blub in a sense perhaps.
Actually, I was surprised to find out that this is not the case.
"The inexpensive twisted nematic display is the most common consumer display type."
"Also, most TN panels represent colors using only 6 bits per RGB color, or 18 bit in total, and are unable to display the 16.7 million color shades (24-bit truecolor) that are available from graphics cards."
(These sorts of tutorials are very thin on the ground on the GIMP side, and this provides some real examples of how to more-or-less pull off the effects Photoshop tutorials tend to talk about.)
This is probably the filter I use most - basically it smooths colours that are close positionally and colourwise to avoid graininess. A good way to clean up images quickly though it can look unnatural if done too much.
I often use a little SGB and then a little Unsharp Mask when touching up images for low-res or online output.
I'm not professionally trained but do use this for commercial purposes and have for some time.
From the article, seems like it was 2 years ago: "Last updated January 13, 2009". Might seem like an insignificant detail, but 2 years is an eternity in OSS. Are you sure things haven't changed significantly since that review?
Yeah, unfortunately things really haven't changed since the review: we're still on the same major version (2.6) that we were when the review was published. (Hence the comment at the end about development seeming to have slowed a ton.)
I used GIMP exclusively between 1999 and about 2009. There was always something coming in the next version that would fix GIMP. Color profiling, single window, better text tools, etc. They never did. GIMP doesn't even bother subscribing to GNOME's HIG. It's cast adrift in the world of Linux, and after a decade of using it I'm now happily on Pixelmator on OS X.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GTK%2B GTK is the GIMP toolkit, and GTK is run by the GNOME foundation. There's quite a bit of relationship between GTK/GIMP/GNOME, even if it may be mostly historical these days.
I've always considered GIMP to be a GNOME app, and most people I know have.
How about 'not being weird?' Asides from the already mentioned historic background, GNOME is the most popular OSS Unix desktop.
Besides from all this pro features that GIMP lacks, in my opinion its biggest flaw its the UI. Its poor and raw, and makes sense if you are a programmer...
Mainly this is what keeps it far from the regular users I know.
Hope It doesnt die, its a very good open source multiplatform editing tool...
A week away from GIMP to mess with Photoshop had me converted after the first couple of days, sadly. Photoshop is both a blessing and a curse for OSS.
(A blessing that it's a nice shiny target. A curse in that the target is half-way to the moon.)
The situation with The GIMP is really a lot like OpenOffice on a smaller scale. Lots of people would like a free image editing program but it's a big undertaking to produce something that's competitive with the proprietary alternatives and there's no commercial organization that sees benefit in supporting such an effort.
OSX also has SeaShore, which I believe is built upon GIMP's tech but with a Cocoa frontend. It is fairly nice.
Seashore looks interesting.
I don't care if my photo editor is good enough for a pro. Pros use Photoshop. A good, free, lightweight editor is what most people need for removing red-eye, putting daemon horns on their third grade teacher, and cropping out their ex.
An open source editor will always be able to do high-end stuff, as long as it has some decent scripting capability. The rest of us just want something simple.
Take Open Office. The reason I switched was the better equation editor, and the tab-complete. I like FireFox because of the tabs and extensions.
There should be more focus on a minimal but usable product, and letting the extensions make up the feature gap.
Nope, maybe if you are the programmer of Gimp
The technical aspects mentioned in the article are more serious.
When using the Move tool, Instead of moving the selected layer by default, the option checked is "pick a layer automatically" which never does the job.
Text editing its a pain compared to photoshop.
Lots of filters dont have a real-time preview, which make applying them a futile exercise of guessing
Layers have bounds that doesnt correspond with the content of the layer (maybe somebody finds this useful, I hate it)
The plugins for Layer effects are all a mess and its easier to do it by hand
Its impossible to select a group of layers, and I dont mean to apply some filter or edit them, I mean to organize the layers. Move up a group, etc. There is no way to create folders of layers... There is no way to hide/show a group of layers...
All this kind of quirks make the program anoying to use for big projects, and I hate it because its completely capable of getting the same results (at my level) than PS, it just takes a lot of time because the UI...
The multi-window thing I really don't have much of a problem with, though, even if it was hard to get used to at first. I don't have much use for the higher bit depths and such, but I can see his point about quality and why others need it.
Incidentally, a lot of programs have problems with gamma. I think this link has been on HN a few times: http://www.4p8.com/eric.brasseur/gamma.html
Then, which windows are on top of other windows is never what I expect, even after years of using GIMP.
In my opinion a multi-window image program is the way to go, but GIMP's implementation of it is not.
(P.S. I think Apple's Interface Builder's multi-window implementation is much much worse, however.)
I personally find Photoshop daunting and GIMP pretty easy to use for most of what I need.
In fact, from a year now, I always use Gimp as my image editing program after 4 years of PS, and I hope it doesnt die because it would leave me without choices...
This said, we cannot ignore the flaws on the UI, not comparing them to photoshop, but on their own. User life could be eased a lot fixing lots of little quirks the UI has.
Saying Gimp is pretty easy to use doesnt mean its UI could be improved a lot
The Toolbox isn't dockable, but "brushes" is both a dropdown button on the toolbox and a dockable window. "Show Grid" and "Snap to Grid" are in the View menu, while "Configure Grid" is in the Image menu. The Color Tools are in both the Tools menu and Colors menu.
It just seems convoluted at first because there's so much duplication and so many areas where the wrong UI element was chosen - it's just a mess. On top of this, a lot of common tasks, like copy-paste-moveSelection, have at least one extra click compared to PS or PSP, and it all adds up to have a dramatic effect on productivity.
I don't think Gimp will die, but I'm guessing that, at least for hobbyists, it'll probably be dethroned by whichever web-based solution gets to the head of the pack.
I just meant that time is a valuable commodity which artists can rarely afford, unless they have a really good reason to. I applaud this reviewer for having the time.
Clearly this artist was not a curious user.
I don't really know what the deal is with the low development interest in GIMP. I think maybe it's that Photoshop's professional niche generally isn't comprised of big fan of computers in the first place, so they are more like the Office crowd and just want to use what they're used to; they're hostile to any change from the start.
I also think that the extremely long development cycle of GEGL, which was necessary for the most commonly requested features like increased bit depth, CMYK, etc., may have turned developers off.
I'm merely guessing here, though. I definitely agree that GIMP has a lot of potential, and a few dedicated developers could really take it places.
I don't know about the developers and why more people aren't interested in helping out (though I suspect for a lot of people its a mixture of the difficulties of getting established in a large codebase and the beurocracy involved in a large project), but from a user point-of-view I think GIMP has a few problems.
I've used GIMP exclusively for many years (but I'm not a graphic designer, so my use of image editing software was never terribly heavy) and I used photoshop for the first time last summer. My transition to photoshop was a very pleasant one as, IMHO, photoshop has a much simpler and more productive interface (buttons are easy to access, convenient keyboard shortcuts, interface is not too cluttered); it has a larger range of (more advanced, generally) filters and tools; and it seems a lot faster to me too (definitely when applying filters to a large image. This can be, in my experience, quite slow in GIMP, but in photoshop most filters are almost instantaneus for me).
I can only assume that many other people feel the same and I imagine this may make it less desirable for people to work on GIMP, especially if there is (perceived) resistance from the GIMP developer community for GIMP to move in the direction that newcomers feel it should (eg, does GIMP still have that horrible multi-window interface? Most people dislike it (though since I started using a tiling window manager on windows it actually becomes much more usable!)).
Having said all that, from a user point of view, unless you make a reaosnable amount of money with your photo-editing, it is still hard to justify photoshops high price tag. GIMP being free is definitely a big plus point for it for casual use.
This probably doesn't help GIMP any, but I suspect it's because very few people want to hop on such a clearly troubled project. Only two core devs left? A long history of neglect and moving in the wrong direction?
I can bet if, say, Pixelmator went OSS right now, there'd be a sea of devs fighting to add features to it.
Most devs don't want to walk into a major, legacy project just to pick up the pieces, most of us would rather join something that has a solid base where the maintainers have a decent idea of what the product needs.
As a (now part-time) professional photographer, I have evaluated GIMP; and as a FOSS advocate I really wanted it to work. The performance issues the article mentions are with reasonable sized images at only 8 bits, but editing a 16bit, 25MP image wasn't just slow, it was unusable. Photoshop however, runs in near real time at these image sizes. Even automating a GEGL filter to run on a series of a few hundred images would take long enough that I couldn't maintain a usable workflow.
Firefox is able to develop quickly due to the deal with Google, maybe GIMP needs something like that, e.g. a app-store for plugins or a kickstarter funding drive.
Not entirely, I get away with it as the publications ultimately use low quality reproduction and so they don't match anyway. It's certainly better but the main issue for me sending RGB is brightness and I've learnt to adjust for it. The consumer doesn't know what it's supposed to look like colour-wise, they're probably reading in non-optimal conditions, possibly colour-blind.
Given what gets put on the cover of professionally produced work (http://www.psdisasters.com/) this almost seems the least thing to worry about (yes I'm exaggerating).
I think Photoshop, like Windows, is a beneficiary of piracy in this respect: if there were no way to get Photoshop for less than $999, there would be a lot more people using alternatives for a lot of niches where Photoshop isn't absolutely necessary. But students, people starting out, small-time freelancers, and even some random home users editing their Christmas photos just pirate Photoshop. Although, Paint.NET is gaining some market share in the home-user category.
Hats off to the Gimp development team for pulling off so many features and above all having an open-source product out there. But the problem is PhotoShop has set the expectations way too high. And I'm afraid, a non-commercial product will never be able reach that level.
But for end-user applications where you pay for the competition and where the typical end-users are not developers, or similar, (e.g. MS Office, PaintShop, most games) then FOSS versions seem rather poor by comparison.
IMO a good example of a software which does its tasks very well (I'm no (digital) painter, but I've heard about graphic artists seriously thinking about switching to it... if it only had a Mac version...).
There can't be a huge amount of the original source left, surely?
The photoshopessentails links below will obviously illustrate a difference (but not one that is very striking considering the destructive editing applied) - its a classic dynamic range compress/expand to show the benefits of higher quantization levels. Obviously that will degrade an image. Nobody, I suspect, is willing to show a side by side comparison of an image showing ordinary editing with rounding errors that make the slightest different to the image.
Most output is computer screens anyway where there is so much more impacting the image than rounding errors in editing stage. When you print an image that also introduces its own set of transforms, some have the benefit of making much that is visible on the screen (like moderate chroma noise) largely go away.
I dislike GIMP because it lacks the polish and sophistication of Photoshop but good photographs are good photographs, regardless of rounding errors in adjustment layers. When you look back at the last century of images, how many of those photos do you say would be improved had they more resolution, or less banding or whatever technical nonsense metric you want to apply.
Is the lack of competition due to the magnitude of such a programming endeavor or is it something else like patents? Any idea?
The reason why GIMP doesn't have more developers is easy: Programmers don't have any itch to scratch at this point and there isn't currently a big market for prosumer image tools (most folks use PS one way or the other, paid or pirated).
If Adobe managed to somehow magically make piracy of their software impossible I think it's likely that you'd see a number of free and non-free products in strong competition with Photoshop Elements.
As I also work with media (graphics and music), I find the lack of any semi-professional software for producing music (nothing to be compared with Cubase, Ableton Live or even Fruity loops) nor programs to make graphics (Inkscape is not close to Illustrator and then Gimp...).
So I had to constantly keep a virtual machine for those (read: running in a virtual machine the most resource expensive programs) or another partition for dual boot and I ended up having two PCs.
I sold them both and bought a Mac where I can have Photoshop in a window and a terminal with a proper unix machine on the other.
The UI is a huge problem. Whomever thought it was a good idea to make the tool window always on top with no way to minimize it, and no menus, needs to step away from working on UIs.