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Gimp vs CS5, CS2, PSE

Harry Joseph , Jun 01, 2011; 07:55 a.m.

Sorry I can't afford the latest version of Photoshop CS5. So far I have managed OK with Photshop CS2 and Photoshop Elements versions 9/7. My 30 day trial version of CS5 went so fast, I never really got a chance to learn it. Of course it came without a manual and some functions were greyed out. I feel I'm missing something with PSE 9 and I can't transfer my CS2 32bit Windows XP to my new 64bit Windows 7 computer. I was wondering if Gimp had more to offer than PSE 9 or CS2. Is it(Gimp) closer to CS5 or not ? thanks in advance


Jean-Yves Mead , Jun 01, 2011; 08:57 a.m.

The easiest way to find out is to give gimp a whirl. It'll cost you nothing but time.

Dave Redmann , Jun 01, 2011; 10:13 a.m.

My general view is that GIMP is, on the whole, a good enough replacement for Elements that I can't see spending $80 on Elements when GIMP is free, unless you're using Elements to learn Photoshop and plan to upgrade to the full CS in the near future. However, GIMP is definitely not a true replacement for the full CS, not even CS2.

Some points: GIMP natively has the very useful curves tool, which Elements does not (but which can be added through some third-party plug-ins). GIMP does not yet have non-destructive editing in the form of adjustment layers, although that's on the horizon. Neither GIMP nor Elements handles 16 bit-per-channel files satisfactorily; if you need that, look elsewhere.

And yes, as Jean-Yves said, GIMP is free--try it.

Mukul Dube , Jun 01, 2011; 01:50 p.m.

GIMP works in 8 bits only, but it is adequate for most purposes. Its flexibility and power are enhanced by the many scripts and plug-ins that can be downloaded, also at no cost.

Pete S. , Jun 01, 2011; 08:28 p.m.

Harry, you can install CS2 under windows 7 if you want to. You may need to change the UAC settings in windows 7 to be able to activate it. And select to run CS2 as administrator.

64 bit windows 7 runs 32 bit programs well so that is not an issue.

Pierre Lachaine , Jun 02, 2011; 04:39 p.m.

The GIMP is great. Between it and the free image viewers with editing capabilities, I hardly ever need anything more.

The only downside is that it doesn't yet work in 16-bits per channel except for a few exceptions. Ufraw in combination with it works very well though. You can do most of what counts in 16-bits, and then the image opens in GIMP for anything else. For colour, mainly because I'm colourblind and I like to rely on Nikon's software for colour shots, I do raw stuff in ViewNX 2, and then I go into the GIMP.

I don't like image organizing software, so I have no need for that.

I'm both short of stature and short of pocket, and that's always been an incentive to actively find good ways of doing things with less :-)

Bill Tuthill , Jun 03, 2011; 12:23 a.m.

I find GIMP easier to use and more stable (crashes less) than CS2. Can't speak to CS5 because I don't have it. One of the nice things about GIMP is that the keyboard shortcuts are similar to other Web software, instead of totally wonked-out. Two possible corrections: recent versions of Elements do  have Curves, I believe, and GIMP has had layers for a long time, though not PSD to save adjustments. On the plus side, GIMP is much better than Photoshop for editing JPEG, because it has an option to save with original settings.

Dave Redmann , Jun 03, 2011; 12:53 a.m.

To clarify, because evidently there's some confusion: GIMP has layers (and layer masks), but it doesn't have adjustment layers. When you edit in GIMP, you change the underlying image data, and all you have is however many levels of undo (5 by default, IIRC), and that's it. With CS5, you can make an adjustment layer and pull it out or apply it elsewhere or whatever--it doesn't change the underlying image data, and is an integrated set of edits. GIMP is supposed to get this form of non-destructive editing, I think in version 2.8, which is due in the Fall of this year.

Harry Joseph , Jun 03, 2011; 08:08 p.m.

"GIMP works in 8 bits only, but it is adequate for most purposes."

Wow, maybe CS2 is not that bad. Pete i tried installing CS2 so many time on my new computer I finally gave up. Thanks, I'll try your recomendations though next time I have an entire free weekend.

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