Is Gimp a functional replacement for Photoshop in the technological infrastructures of modern society?

I got a bit carried away with the title. Basically the question is can Gimp do everything I need? Since I started looking in to free and open software and reading more and more about the Free software foundation and there take on software and how it should be free forever for everybody and to do with it what they please. I have since then started to embrace the same philosophy. Therefore as a photographer I would have to consider Gimp as a replacement for Photoshop. So how is Gimp?

About a year ago I installed Gimp on my main working machine and forced my self to work on Gimp instead of the other leading proprietary software. Working on Gimp took me longer and it did take me a while to understand the difference and how to utilizes Gimp at the same speed as PS. Another issue which was of great important to me and that is the final image quality. I have always used 16 bit files when possible and save all my work as 16 bit tiff files (but I do save the tiff files as JPG for printing at Blurb) so the question is will Gimp produce quality prints to my liking since it can only do 8bit?

Book coverMore then a year has past and I now have done my first professional photo album and only used Gimp. Before I had made albums which have a few photos processed via Gimp. I can not see any difference between the Gimp photo and Photoshop photo when processes with the same final image in mind. However when you look at the histogram you can see there is a difference between the 16 bit PS processed file and the 8bit Gimp file. This difference does not translate to better or worse photo quality. And as I became more confident, and quicker, using Gimp I did my first completer photo book using only Gimp. So how did it turn out? Did it meet my level of standard? The customer is happy and the photos meet my standard of quality. I do admit some of them I would redo after seeing the book but most of them turned out excellent.

Mother and daughter: Gimp Photo

Mother and daughter: Gimp Photo

Black and white Gimp photo

Black and white Gimp photo

So Is Gimp a replacement for Photoshop? Yes it is. But it isn’t perfect. I can not work on 16 bit files which I would like to be able to do. I can not convert pictures to Cmyk (something I rarely use these days but is probably important). Printing Super A3 prints on my Epson 1270 printer will not work but A4 printing is good.

Gimp Processed wedding photo

Gimp Processed wedding photo

I can produce the same visual quality prints and photos from Gimp as in Photoshop. So far I can not see any difference between prints made in 16bit file space compared to the same photo worked in 8 bit. But since the work flow in Gimp is a bit different I sometimes have processed the same photo in both programs and made slight different final prints as you can see below. The final result can be duplicated by either program and the difference is just because of the different view I had in mind while working.

One photo processed with two different photo processors

One photo processed with two different photo processors

One photos two photo processors

One photo two photo processors

I would recommend Gimp to everybody and I will continue to us Gimp as my main work program. There might be times I will have to use something else but when Gimp evolves I am sure I will have no need for anything else.

Gimp 2.8.
God I love the changes in Gimp 2.8 but it seams 2.8 isn’t multithreding the CPU (or something) since it only uses about 35% max of my CPU power. Which makes my Gimp 2.8 work far slower then Gimp 2.6. So far I haven’t been able to fix the problem. I have tried it on my old Asus A7m computer and the same problem appears there. Running on the Windows XP side on the Asus A7m, Gimp 2.8 is only using one core of two and it feels REALLY slow. Using the same computer in Pear OS 4 and running Gimp 2.6.11 processing the same picture is fast and the computer is using the full potential of the CPU. If I do not find a solution for it I might have to stop using it and switch to 2.6. If anybody knows anything about this issue I would like to hear about it.

Wish list for next versions of Gimp
16 bit files
Cmyk (not that important for me)
Super A3 Printing
Record my work and do batch processing for files or folders (I know this can be done in some way with a script but I don’t know how).

A short story about Proprietary software
I heard a story about Photoshop when they released CS 6, there was a bug in the program making it vulnerable to attacks and attackers could take control over the computer. Of course Adobe fixed the problem when they found out (which would probably have happened sooner if the code had been open) but they wanted to charge something like 100$ for the fix. If I would have bought a car and there was a design flaw I would not have been happy having to pay for the fix. But since Adobe is the leader in this field and you might say monopolizing the market they can do this without regards to the user and only think about there own benefit at the expense of the user of course. For this and many other reasons I am going to support free and open source software. Adobe did give the fix for free since everybody went crazy and complaint when they wanted to charge for the bug fix. I am sure Adobe regret doing it and will try to exploit us in some other way later.

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8 Responses to Is Gimp a functional replacement for Photoshop in the technological infrastructures of modern society?

  1. Doon Art says:

    Thank you for sharing. I have been considering Gimp. Now, I will give it a try

  2. Thanks a bunch for sharing this with all folks you really understand what you’re speaking approximately! Bookmarked. Kindly additionally seek advice from my site =). We will have a link trade contract between us

  3. Thanks for the post. Most of the opinions Ive read on the matter are from hobbyists, and its good to see a professional opinion on the matter. I took a look at Gimp, but the learning curve scared me off. I’ve been a power user on PS for some time and hate to start at square one not knowing if Ill like it at the end of the journey. 8 bit is a bit of a bummer for me, but I’m guessing thats likely a shorter wait than Adobe going to Linux.

    Ive seen GIMPshop, and some plugins, tutorials, etc to make Gimp more like a PS clone. Do you use these? For someone just starting into gimp but coming from a pretty strong PS background, would you suggest going that route or just jump in vanilla Gimp?

    • birgirfreyr says:

      Hello Chris and thank you for your comment. I totally agree with you, there are far more hobbyist review for Gimp than from professional users, not that it is a bad thing, there are many hobbyist that far exceed my knowledge on Gimp or Photoshop for that matter. But Pro (or artist) user of Photoshop don’t give it a second change since there aren’t many reviews from user of Gimp who use it professionally. I remember looking at gimp in 2004 and noticed it only could do 8 bit and along with the work flow being different than Photo$hop I didn’t look in to it seriously. It wasn’t until I was facinated with Richard Stallman and Gnu/linux and open source and the philosophy of open source that I started to “force” myself to use Gimp and become confident with it. I processed one and a half wedding album using almost only Gimp and after that hell ride my workflow on Gimp was about as fast as I was on PS.

      I am not sure what to say about GIMPshop, I did look in to it but it didn’t match Photoshops look enough for me so I decided to use plain Gimp. I would probably recommend using the standard Gimp version since there are probably far more tutorials available on standard Gimp. This would avoid confusing you with the different layout. But I would also think if you master Gimp in one version any other version wouldn’t be so alienating as going from Photoshop to Gimp.

      The only thing I would truly like to add to Gimp today is better printing and Cmynk converting (and 16 bit processing which probably will come sooner). I haven’t done Cmynk in a long time since almost all the printing solutions I use (blurb and many more) prefer getting files in Srgb color profile.

      So today Gimp fills my professional need and I have no resone to buy a new version of Photoshop. I am sure Photoshop has many nice features which they advertise heavily, but I have found various plugins for Gimp which Photoshop didn’t have. I just can’t justify buying Photoshop any more.

  4. Pingback: GIMP vs Photoshop | YuriBoele

  5. Pingback: GIMP vs Photoshop | YuriBoele

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