Fix Your Photos Without Photoshop – 10 Options

Posted May. 19th, 2013 by Daniel J. Cox

This past week Adobe announced their new Adobe Creative Cloud subscription service that will force Photoshop and Creative Suite users to pay a monthly fee for the use of Adobe’s software. The idea is to get Adobe users to accept the idea of paying for software on a subscription plan. Overall the idea is interesting and has the benefit of constant updates that the user gets immediately as they come online. No more waiting for 12-18 months for the newest version of Photoshop or other programs. The down side is the seemingly higher cost of the software that you are committed to on an ongoing basis. With the old purchase model you could buy your software once and if you have no interest in upgrading, you at least have that option and still have the older software to call your own. With the new subscription model, if you decide to quit paying the monthly fee, you no longer have anything to take with you. Your software is basically shut off.

Adobe's new Creative Cloud subscription model for Photoshop and Creative Suite

Adobe’s new Creative Cloud subscription model for Photoshop and Creative Suite

With this in mind there are have been a lot of photographers wondering what other options there might be. Awhile back I wrote about my favorite anti-Photoshop program called Pixelmator. With this question on the mind of many, DPReview has put together a list of programs you might want to consider if you’ve decided you’re not a subscription type buyer. They offer ten other options aside from Adobe’s Photoshop. Take a look and let me know what you think of these options. For me it’s been an easy decision since I’ve never used Photoshop and have always felt it was bloated and overly expensive. Are you planning to buy into the subscription model for Photoshop and other Creative Suite programs? Add your voice here.

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There are 26 comments on this post…
  1. JamesOn Oct. 4th, 2015

    thanks for sharing my list of dpreview, I just added to that list recently launch toolpic editor which has all feature of pixlr in free version of it.

  2. Maria Xenia AllenOn Sep. 21st, 2013

    Hi Gang!

    What an interesting discussion. I tried PS Elements and it was too technical for me, despite some tutoring from my neighbor, who’s retired from Microsoft and taught this application to high school students. I want something that is more intuitive. I have Multiple Sclerosis; all my lesions are in my brain. I tell my docs that I went from being “Radar O’Reilly” to being “Homer Simpson!” My right brain is pretty well intact but don’t get too technical on me.

    I’m on Social Security Disability Insurance so my finances are very tight; even $20/month is a big deal for me. I’ve been using Picasa, since I went digital in 2008. It works well for most of what I want to do but not everything. Are there any other comparable applications out there, also with the “free” price tag, or a nominal one?

    I’m fortunate that I have an older Dell M6300 workstation (17″ screen) and Windows 8 Pro, which wasn’t that hard for me to learn. Who’d have thought? That’s the craziness of my MS in my brain.

    Thanks for the forum and your help!

    Loon-A-See Productions

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 21st, 2013

      Maria, sorry to hear about your health issues. Hopefully your photography will give you an outlet to make life enjoyable. The most inexpensive options other than PS are Apple’s Aperture, though if your on a Dell that’ out of the equation. And, one of my other favorites, Pixelmator. Good luck with your photography and watch for those beautiful sunsets that make life worthwhile.

  3. StenOn May. 25th, 2013

    I’m still waiting for Adobe to answer my question properly, after asking for weeks. I even had it taken off one of their forums as I think they are trying to avoid it.
    I use a PC to edit which has never been online, nor will it ever go online. Adobe don’t seem to think people do this, although I know quite a few photographers who do the same. All Adobe say is you need internet. I have asked if there will be a phone option but no answer. Adobe are burying their heads in the sand because of the backlash to this stupid idea me thinks….

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 25th, 2013

      Good point. I’ve heard of others working this way.

  4. LubaOn May. 24th, 2013

    I want to own my software, not to rent it. I do not need creative cloud, i tried for a year, did not use it once. I like Apple iCloud, but this is used different way. Plus we do own any software purchased from Apple store.

  5. Pete GreenOn May. 24th, 2013

    @Clint Teegardin,

    If you have CS3 or later, you can get just PS for $9.99 currently.
    Click Join under the 19.99, then in the drop down list choose “Requires CS3+ purchase” — this will knock the monthly price to $9.99.

  6. Pete GreenOn May. 24th, 2013

    Hi Patrick Downs,

    See John Nack’s blog here which gives some decent information about some of the software development reasons for the change.

    There are financial (revenue recognition laws) limitations as well for how and when we are able to deliver updates to each software based on how it has been paid for. A reoccuring subscription model allows for frequent updates (including new features) as they’re ready, not just for bug fixes and a new version every 18-24 months.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 24th, 2013

      Pete, Great to have you take part in this discussion. Greatly appreciate your input and the chance to educate the Natural Exposure’s readers to the reasons why Adobe has taken these steps relating to the Creative Cloud. Stop by anytime and add your voice. We love hearing all sides of any issue.

  7. Pete GreenOn May. 24th, 2013

    Hi Ellen,

    Dreamweaver CS6 is available for upgrade here:

  8. Clint TeegardinOn May. 24th, 2013

    In your response to my question in Nature Photography, you indicated there was a $20 per month Photo Shop option. Where do i find that?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 24th, 2013

      Clint, Here is a link to the Adobe Creative Cloud options. You will notice the second choice under the PLANs FOR INDIVIDUALS is Single App for $19.99/month. Hope this helps. Creative Suite page photo

  9. Patricia KelleyOn May. 23rd, 2013

    By the time I purchased CS6 for a class I recently enrolled in, the Cloud was the only option, or else pay $550 through NAPP. I am totally hooked on camera raw processing and have only used CS6 for output formatting. If I can find something equivalent which would allow me to cut the Cloud apron strings, bring it on. Suggestions? I have not tried Aperture. Is it for mac only? I have pcs. And how do I get this great $20/mo. deal? I am currently paying $49.95 and don’t remember a $20/mo option at all when I subscribed. $49.95/mo is too much and I am not going to be able to maintain it much longer. I don’t use, nor do I need, any of the other Cloud features except Bridge.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 24th, 2013

      Patricia, If your main interest in sticking with CS6 is due to Camera Raw, you really need to look at Adobe’s Lightroom. Lightroom is very similar to the program I mentioned, Aperture, and yes Aperture is exclusive to Apple computers. However, Lightroom is both PC and Mac and uses the same RAW engine that Photoshop does. As of right now, Lightroom is not cloud based so you can still purchase and own a copy. It’s only $150.00US and is far superior to Bridge. If you’re not using all the tools that CS6 incorporates, Lightroom is definitely your answer. Hope that helps. Here’s a link to the Lightroom page

  10. Patrick DownsOn May. 23rd, 2013

    Adobe certainly has kicked the hornet’s nest with this. In the least, they didn’t sell their idea well or anticipate this backlash and address it early on. the question is: do they care that much?

    I have a new Mac, and upgraded Lightroom to v.4 for my D800 … no problems. I balked at $600 for Photoshop since I don’t use it that much, and 90% of what I do need is in Elements. But, as one said above, the $20/mo seems painless (oh, how we nickel and dime ourselves to death, $20 here, #15 there…). I still want to own my own copy, but it seems they will make owned copies of PS6 obsolete quickly with cloud-only upgrades. All part of the diabolical plan, I assume.

    I have no idea why they couldn’t do the upgrades to owned copies as easily as cloud copies, which are still resident on your machine — same-same. They can, is the answer, but don’t want to … they want to lock us in. They could reduce the price of the owned copies, set it up so that your machine still has to dial in once a month to verify your s/n and machine it’s on, and then if you opt-in, you could pay a subscription fee for the more frequent updates. One idea.

    Lot’s of people are mad at you Adobe — are you listening?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 23rd, 2013

      Patrick, Great input. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I’ve invited a gentleman from Adobe to partake in this discussion. Will be interesting to see if they have an interest in participating.

  11. David TachauerOn May. 23rd, 2013

    Thanks for the input Daniel.
    A went over to Apple iMac after being persuaded to upgrade my Widows to Windows 8. What a disaster! I decided that if I was going to have to learn all over again I may as well take the plunge which I did.
    Aperture, which was my first purchase on the iMac is the absolutely best editing software I have ever come across. The only downside is its lack of the pixel pushing layers type operations I’m used to in PS Elements 9. The Elements is pretty seamlessly interchangeable with Aperture so I’m sticking with those two.
    The only thing I have altered is that I’ve deleted Elements Organiser and always save my edited images back to the non destructive Aperture library.
    Never been happier.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 23rd, 2013

      Awesome David! I’ve been a big fan of Aperture since it was released. We have apple to thank for bringing us Aperture AND Lightroom. If it wasn’t for Aperture Adobe would have most likely never released Lightroom. Without Aperture photographers would have been forced to continue spending $700.00 for Photoshop. Thanks for adding your voice. Love getting input from all you folks in the field.

  12. Dr. Ellen K. RudolphOn May. 22nd, 2013

    What happens in this case, Daniel.? I had PS CS5, then went begrudgingly
    to Creative Cloud to try it. I still have CS5 and serial number — I assume I can go back to that? Also, I need Dreamweaver (or something similar) since I manage my own websites. They no longer offer an upgrade to DW except through the Cloud. There is very little else in Creative Cloud that I use or need, except for Acrobat Pro. I think Adobe has forsaken the independent user in favor of commercial users…what a crock.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 22nd, 2013

      Dr. Ellen, You seem to be in a tight spot. I would think that your CS5 would still be yours to use as you please. As far as Dream Weaver goes you most likely are out of luck. I have to say I don’t know for certain since I don’t use any of Adobe’s CS products. I’m sorry I can’t be more help. I will do one thing. I have an email address to one a gentleman I met from Adobe. I’ll send him a link to this discussion and see if he can answer any of these questions. Check back when you can and thanks for adding your voice.

  13. Vince MinklerOn May. 22nd, 2013

    I currently use Elements 11 and was thinking about getting CS6. For me, I think the subscription is better because I don’t have to lay out $700 up front for CS6, just the $20 a month. If I ever decide to drop my subscription, I know there are other programs that can open my Photoshop files.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 22nd, 2013

      Good logic here Vince. Thanks for adding your voice.

  14. Del ZaneOn May. 20th, 2013

    Sure glad I didn’t upgrade my CS-5 to “6”. LR and NIK do it for me.

  15. Milt AnglinOn May. 19th, 2013

    I currently have CS6 and it will be my last upgrade in Photoshop. I now do over 90% of my photo processing in Aperture. I have been using Aperture since version 1.5. I have tried Lightroom but it seems too “clunky” to me. I recently purchased both Pixelmator and Acorn and will be phasing out Photoshop except for major repairs and photo restoration. Looking forward to the Aperture update, if it ever comes. Even if it doesn’t happen I will continue to use Aperture if only for the database.

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