Photography/graphics question

For you who are into photography.

What software are you using to edit or to create?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. sekman says:

    Photoshop, Photoshop, Photoshop. However if you don’t have a large amount of money, The gimp and are nice free applications.

  2. Fr. Z,

    Don’t shun me for this… but AS A MAC USER :) I use a combo of Aperture, Lightbox, Seashore [or Gimp.]

  3. Ttony says:

    Father, I use the programmes which came with the Canon Digital SLR I use. They give me far more than I will ever need, unless I decide to become a professional photographer (or a “photoshopper” in the idiomatic sense).

  4. gmarie says:

    Photoshop, though if I’m in a hurry and there is not much editing to do, I will use the free photo editing software that came with my HP laptop.

  5. zapman says:

    Aperture (Mac only) and gimp cover most of my needs without bleeding my wallet dry.

  6. nhaggin says:

    I use Linux on my desktop, so no Photoshop for me. I use the following:

    * Bibble Pro (, RAW conversion software. I’m using the preview of Version 5, which on the whole I like better than Version 4, although it’s certainly not a finished product. Also, my camera (Nikon D90) came out after they stopped adding support for new cameras to Version 4.
    * digiKam (, asset management and some editing
    * The GIMP (, most editing

    All of them are available on Windows. Bibble is purposely developed multi-platform, and folks have ported the other two from Linux.

  7. Bede says:

    There is no substitute for Photoshop.

    And I’m a Mac user. ;)

  8. mattmcg says:

    I use Photoshop too (free univ. license), but it’s huge overkill on features unless you are a professional designer or graphic editor. Photoshop Elements is quite feature-rich, less complex, and only about 80 dollars. For ordinary photographers, it has a lot of simply tools that are acutally more useful that the full Photoshop CS4 and gimp are nice for some kinds of work. But the Adobe products excel at tasks like handling RAW camera images and dealing with color profiles. You can’t go those and many other things with the free software, nice as it is.

  9. JennyZ says:

    I use Photoshop CS3. I have friends that swear by Lightroom, but I can’t do anything without Photoshop actions. They’re just too handy.

  10. moon1234 says:

    Adobe Photoshop.

  11. I use Photoshop CS3. It was expensive, and basically mostly a waste of money until I learned how to use it. However, most Photoshop books just list the various Photoshop features, without giving you the reason why something ought to be done. Now there are lots of good online Photoshop tutorials also available, but these often emphasize special effects.

    The key to unlocking Photoshop for me was a book “Professional Photoshop” by Dan Margulis. This book covers only maybe seven features in Photoshop – but these are the most important features; Photoshop otherwise is full of features that are hardly ever used. Margulis covers these features in extreme depth, giving you the reasons ‘why’ something has to be done, and not merely ‘how’. However, this book is notoriously difficult, and I had to work through it three times until I “got it”. Margulis’ style and content lead me to believe that he is Catholic: he is simultaneously triumphalistic and humble, he demands a lot from his reader, is not afraid to state his opinion (and his opinions are usually correct) and he constantly emphasizes facts over feelings. He always goes to “what is expected” of photos by art directors, while so many other books tell the reader to “do what you feel like doing”. His method may be called the “by the numbers” technique, and he has successfully trained color blind retouchers.

    My photography has improved 1000% because of this book, and I give a lot of credit to it for making my book “Catholic St. Louis” possible.

    I have a Nikon camera, and I shoot in RAW format, because this gives me more flexibility on the computer. Photoshop’s RAW converter, called ACR, produces inferior images to Nikon’s native software. I use the free Nikon ViewNX software to do the initial RAW conversion, and then finish processing on Photoshop. Since you shoot Canon, I don’t know about the quality of Canon’s software versus ACR, but this is something to think about.

    There are many other photo retouching software titles out there, but Photoshop is basically the standard, and you are likely to get plenty of support for it.

  12. chcrix says:

    Save your money. GIMP for Windows, Mac, or Linux.

  13. cregduff says:


    Adobe Photoshop Lightroom for win/mac is great. it’s also a premiere way to organize all the photo content. There are great tools in this product.
    You might checkout a couple of the podcasts for this product avail for free in iTunes to get an idea of capabilities before buying. There are some great videos there that show you what you’ll want to know.
    For Web graphics work you should also use Adobe’s After Effects.
    Ed Casey

  14. gluon says:

    Adobe Lightroom for editing / sorting. There is currently a free 1 year beta trial of Lightroom 3 – very useful.

    Adobe Photoshop for creation. (or Corel Draw/Photophaint)

  15. I can’t imagine using anything other than Adobe Lightroom as posted by gluon above.

    What makes it so great is that you can make many edits and copies of pictures within Lightroom without driving up disk usage. This happens only when you finally export.

    However, to get the best of Lightroom, you want to shoot “RAW” if you have that option. Some functions don’t really work on non-RAW photos, such as the noise reduction feature which is great for getting graininess out of high-iso pics. But, it is fine without RAW, as well.

    Lightroom though, will not give you the kind of function you would get with Photoshop. Photoshop allows you to really alter photos, whereas Lightroom is intended to help you clean them up. The two compliment each other.

    There are some filters in there, as well, but again – real special effects are best done with Photoshop.

    Unfortunately, Lightroom is pricey (I think around $299). Usually, you can download it and use it for 30 days I think, for free.

  16. For those who can’t afford CS4, Paintshop Pro X2 works reasonably well. It doesn’t have as many features or as powerful tools, but it serves the more amateur of us – and it costs about $100 (apparently its on sale for ~$60 during the Advent/Christmas season) as opposed to the ~$700 CS4.

    – Fr. Maurer

  17. Hmmmm – might have to check out that Paintshop Pro X2.

  18. Has anyone used Photomatix?

  19. Photoshop ($$$) and GIMP (free) are very powerful, but have steep learning curves. For casual editing I find Photoshop Elements ($149 list I think) works fine. I have all three sets of software on Windows and Linux; Photoshop Elements on the laptop and the other two on the big desktop and server.

  20. Fr. Z.: Photomatix is a special-purpose product designed to blend together various exposures to make a high-dynamic range image, one that shows detail in shadow and highlights that would be lost in only one exposure. The blending of these images can produce striking tonal effects, and so Photomatix can simulate this tone mapping on a single image.

    Photomatix is not a general purpose photo editing product. I used Photomatix briefly. In my opinion, the Photomatix “look” is over-done these days, although the product can make more natural looking blends. The majority of my church photos are blends of multiple exposures, but since I want a more naturalistic effect, I use my own blending techniques in Photoshop instead of Photomatix.

    Lightroom might be a good choice if you aren’t interested in doing intense image edits. I’ve used GIMP, but it has the same problem as does Photoshop – learning *what* to do to produce a good image.

  21. 3D says:

    Photoshop Elements does very advanced things and has a small learning curve.

  22. ray from mn says:

    I have Photoshop Elements and that is great for most things unless you are creating from scratch images or advertising.

    PhotoFiltre, a free program from France, can do most of what Elements can do, except Layers.

    I am a genealogist who encounters photographs in poor condition regularly. I use PhotoFiltre for resizing, cropping, repairing and minor color adjustments and it works quicker and fine. If I have a difficult image, I revert to Photoshop.

  23. rotaa says:

    Photoshop. Is there another option? :)

  24. GCC Catholic says:

    I use GIMP – there is a bit of a learning curve, but I have always been able to find online tutorials to learn anything that I wanted to do. Granted, I have never done anything very complicated.

    I have also heard good things about Paint.NET for editing and Inkscape for vector graphics, but haven’t used either enough to give a fair evaluation of them.

  25. adt6247 says:

    This is from the perspective of a programmer.

    For photo editing, GIMP or Picasa. Both are excellent and powerful.

    I use Photoshop, however, almost exclusively for doing web content. It’s slicing and image optimization are second to none, and most web designers work in it. It’s large and complex and expensive and slow, but it’s really powerful.

  26. THREEHEARTS says:

    The cheapest and best having tried them all is Magix Movie Edit pro15. The reason is I was in TV and Film from the black and white days and it follows the original cut and paste of film and the first b?w editing of two inch tape. Plus it has a very good audio editing and dubbing plug in. It is also supported by so many sound effects for audion and for video it includes chroma keying. It is difficult at first but becomes easier as one becomes more facile. At under 100 dollars it is worth trying. I have gone from the expensive camera to the ridiculously cheap I use the flip ultra Hd camera plus the flip shareware. So easy so workable. There is a problem sharing the Flip Ultra HD with Magix Movie pro, still looking for the right drivers

  27. Brian Day says:

    I would second Father Maurer’s choice of Paintshop Pro X2. I’ve used different versions of it going back to Jasc’s PSP 5. (I’m not sure, but I think Corel bought the program around version 9 or X (10).

    It is better than Photoshop Elements, but less powerful than Photoshop. Photo correction tools are easy to use, and if necessary you can work with layers and do much of what Photoshop can do. It even works with RAW files.

    Right now, Corel is advertising PSP X2 for $60 (full version) or $50 (upgrade version). Corel really drops the price just before it announces a new version. It seems version X3 is just around the corner.

  28. benyanke says:

    Gimp is nice, but often confusing. in my opinion is much more user friendly, although I use Photoshop elements.
    The 1st two are free, and PSA is about 100 bucks. Check out P.Net before buying! (I’d be using free too, if I didn’t receive PS-A as a gift).

  29. Luke says:

    A very cheap and very capable replacement for Photoshop on the Mac is Pixelmator.

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