Newsrooms are full of weird coincidences. For example, we just learned that two products often presented as direct competition were launched this Fall. To my right, here is Adobe with its boxing champion, Photoshop, loaded up to version CS4. To my left, Linux and its community of free developpers pushing the challenger on the ring, version 2.6 of The Gimp.
I am still convinced that this is not an even fight (and Photoshop is favored by bookmakers, for those still doubting it) but both announces are interesting and should be reviewed shortly.
Photoshop CS4 is a new step forward based on the award-winning user interface that made it a best seller and on top-level performance. To this market reference product, Adobe adds the following image-edition-oriented features:
- Accelerated computation using the modern graphic cards coprocessor and the Windows 64 features (when available, of course), and many tools needed to support a 3rd dimension in graphics design (painting on top of 3Dmodels, 3D compositing, etc.)
- Several new tools
- Adobe Camera Raw v5 is improved again to include complementary tools applicabel to RAW photo files (local editing, gradual correction filters, etc.)
- Bridge CS4 is notably accelerated
On the other side, The Gimp is now available as version 2.6. Here again, improvements are notable, even if a little smaller:
- A number of improvements to the user interface (but I still thing that this is the weak point of this software program; Recommendation: Look into GimpShop which is a hack to The Gimp in order to make it appear similar to Photoshop)
- Improvements to the selection tool
- Improvements to the drawing brush
- 32-bit GEGL data management (perfectly adapted to keep maximum quality in 12- and 14-bit RAW files)
All this will probably start again comment wars supporting one or the other solution. But remember that The Gimp is simply free. On the contrary, Photoshop CS4 (even if getting the upgrade license and despite the many available options) will still be very expensive (Master Collection at $2,499).