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?
More 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.