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Rayek
06-27-2012, 05:24 PM
After a long search, I finally found a (mostly) worthy PH alternative: Photoline.

It does not support the 3d painting tools, or the movie editing as Photoshop does, nor can it compete with the new(er) Photoshop painting tools. And Photoshop's interface and little workflow enhancers are mostly missing, unfortunately.

On the other hand, it does support layer masking, full masking, non-destructive adjustment layers, layer effects, LAB/RGB/CMYK support in 8 /16/32 bit per channel, advanced layer blending like PH (with the separable sliders for each channel), vector tools, HDR support, layer groups, and so on.

And: for pure image editing it is actually more powerful (in most cases - some of the latest tools in CS5/6 like the mask editor are not available, which is too bad):
- as many layer masks per layer as you want (finally!!!)
- all filters can be applied to 16bit per channel layers, and they work in 32bit as well (though I am not certain if floating point operations are actually used in 32 bit)
- each layer can have its own colour mode: this means one layer stack in the *same* document may contain any number and combinations of rgb(8 /16/32bit), LAB(8 /16/32bit), CMYK(8 /16/32bit), greyscale and monochrome, and each layer can have its own resolution and image size! Amazing.
- multi-page support (very handy for importing a pdf for rasterization: PH only supports one page import)
- layer masks can be 8,16 or 32 bit
- 90% of the filters are non-destructive - no smart objects required, unlike PH
- virtual copies/instances/clones of layers
- a noise filter that is actually usable (and non-destructive) (a lot of filters that are comparable are superior to PH's versions)
- image adjustments can be applied directly to LAB/HIS without having to switch image colour mode!
- full document support: it can be used as a DTP app as well (though obviously not as powerful as InDesign)
- opacity slider for each layer can be set to a negative value, as well as more than 100% (up to 200%)! This is surprisingly useful, and would require additional steps in PH to create similar effects.
- the curve adjustment layer icon actually displays the curve in use! Hah! Useful.
- image scaling can be done lossless, and the Lanczos 8 algorithm is also supported: results in extremely high quality scaling.

The main drawback is the interface - it looks old-fashioned, is inconsistent at times, and the translation from German can be harrowing at best ("Levels" translates to "Histogram Correction", for example - not exactly industry standard). File-->new only supports up to 16bit, while the Attributes Pane allows you to quickly switch any layer between different image colour modes and bit depths. Again, the interface lags behind the capabilities.

The help file is unhelpful (no pun intended), and badly structured and written. The forum has been very helpful, though. Some things are just very different compared to Photoshop (But hey, haven't we heard that before ;-)
Also: no OpenEXR support. But the 32bit files save to TIFF, and open up as 32bit float images in Blender.

The website does not do any justice to this little gem: http://www.pl32.com/index.php

I have been using it instead of Photoshop for a month now. PH Plugins like Nvidia's normal generator work without a hitch. The openEXR plugin crashes, unfortunately. So far I like it a lot, even with its idiosyncrasies in regards to the interface. And no gigabytes of installation, either: just 18mb (win) or 32mb (mac). No horrible online/cloud based registration either.

And the funny thing: I have been on the lookout for something like this for years, and *never* encountered it! Maybe because this was originally developed for the *cough* Atari Jaguar... Reminds me of PageStream for the Amiga - still available, and quite powerful, yet every person I tell about PageStream gives me a blank stare. :-P

Rayek
06-27-2012, 05:36 PM
Ooh, good news: someone on the PL forum concocted up a small file to test whether the tools and adjustments work in 32bit, and it seems they do:
http://www.pl32.com/forum3/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=3244

edit: well, not all, but 50% of the tools do.

Ryan Roye
06-27-2012, 05:56 PM
I'm gonna have to keep my eye on this one... previously, the only alternative I ever knew of was GIMP, another open source and free paint program.

I haven't had a compelling reason to upgrade from paint shop pro 6.0 (released 1999) for my purposes, but its nice to know there's viable alternatives for when my software can no longer do the things I need it to.

Thanks for the plug!

JonW
06-27-2012, 06:21 PM
Thanks for the review.

Still running CS1. Biggest problem is opening RAW files from new cameras. I convert to DNG & also use DNG Recover Edge pixels to get that last bit of info when needed. Then into PS. Also use Panotools for remapping for lens correction when needed.

Dodgy
06-27-2012, 06:55 PM
The closest thing I found was Photoplus. Its interface is almost exactly like PS, and it allows you to layer filters and adjust them before confirming the changes, among other things it does that PS doesn't. If you have a nose about the site or google search, they usually have free old versions knocking about for you to give it a try. I really like it and it's 69 quid, not 650 :P

http://www.serif.com/photoplus/

Might give yours a look though :)

Titus
06-27-2012, 07:35 PM
Interesting find. We use PS and GIMP, but this alternative looks promising.

Rayek
06-27-2012, 11:01 PM
Photoline also allows you to layer as much non-destructive filters as you want - and just drop them on top of a single layer, and they will only affect that one layer.

I noticed Photoplus also allows for 16bit per channel (HDR) editing. Are all tools supported in that mode?


The closest thing I found was Photoplus. Its interface is almost exactly like PS, and it allows you to layer filters and adjust them before confirming the changes, among other things it does that PS doesn't. If you have a nose about the site or google search, they usually have free old versions knocking about for you to give it a try. I really like it and it's 69 quid, not 650 :P

http://www.serif.com/photoplus/

Might give yours a look though :)

Rayek
06-27-2012, 11:05 PM
Thanks for the review.

Still running CS1. Biggest problem is opening RAW files from new cameras. I convert to DNG & also use DNG Recover Edge pixels to get that last bit of info when needed. Then into PS. Also use Panotools for remapping for lens correction when needed.

I also like Picturenaut and Luminance HDR for (free) RAW conversion. Thanks for mentioning Panotools - I did use it in the past, but forgot the name; so many apps out there, these days ;-)

Rayek
06-27-2012, 11:07 PM
I'm gonna have to keep my eye on this one... previously, the only alternative I ever knew of was GIMP, another open source and free paint program.

I haven't had a compelling reason to upgrade from paint shop pro 6.0 (released 1999) for my purposes, but its nice to know there's viable alternatives for when my software can no longer do the things I need it to.

Thanks for the plug!

For quality displacement maps 16bit greyscale support is a must (16bit greyscale supports 65,536 levels, while 8bit only supports 256 levels).

And for high-depth render passes as well.

Dodgy
06-28-2012, 01:15 AM
Photoline also allows you to layer as much non-destructive filters as you want - and just drop them on top of a single layer, and they will only affect that one layer.

I noticed Photoplus also allows for 16bit per channel (HDR) editing. Are all tools supported in that mode?

Tools are, but only some filters. It has got some very nice warping tools too.

Amurrell
06-28-2012, 10:37 AM
I also use PaintShop Pro X4 from Corel. Decent tools, a lot cheaper than PS. Only goes up to 16bit color depth, so if you need 32 bit you're SOL, and is only for Windows, sorry Mac users. But for as low as $50, and I have been using it in professional situations with no issues, I would say it is pretty good.

Some areas are not as fast as PS, some tools are better though, even though some are missing compared to PS, they are usually the ones you rarely use anyway.

I gave up Adobe Lightroom for Corel's Aftershot Pro as well.

Other alternatives include RawTherapee and of course Luminance HDR GIMP and the like.

Paul24
06-28-2012, 05:07 PM
PhotoShop alternative,

Yes Photoline is a very good one but I choose Gimp just because it's free and very good.

Rayek
06-28-2012, 05:20 PM
PhotoShop alternative,

Yes Photoline is a very good one but I choose Gimp just because it's free and very good.

I like Gimp, and I work with Gimp when doing web stuff.

But the problem in Gimp is: iffy 16bit support as of yet. No LAB mode. No 32bit mode (less of a problem, though). I think they are working on at least getting 16bit to work well, but it's all very quirky and half-baked so far. And CMYK is supported through applying colour management profiles, but no simple image mode switch is available.

Dodgy
06-28-2012, 05:30 PM
I like Gimp, and I work with Gimp when doing web stuff.

But the problem in Gimp is: iffy 16bit support as of yet. No LAB mode. No 32bit mode (less of a problem, though). I think they are working on at least getting 16bit to work well, but it's all very quirky and half-baked so far. And CMYK is supported through applying colour management profiles, but no simple image mode switch is available.

Yeah, I've been waiting years for Gimp to get proper layer support, among a whole bunch of other stuff. I'll download the build every so often, but I'd rather pay 70 quid and have something that is pretty much photoshop than use Gimp extensively.