I hate iPhoto with a fiery passion. Please help me find an alternative.
January 3, 2014 7:36 PM   Subscribe

While I have plenty of experience with PCs, I am a Mac person who is currently using a MacBook Pro (OS X, but it's more than 3 years old), an iPhone, and a Canon SLR. I upgraded to the full version of iPhoto awhile ago thinking it would make me like iPhoto better. It has not. I'm leaning towards Adobe PhotoShop Elements 12, but I am not sure if that is the best alternative or if there is another one I should be considering. Some additional info inside.

I have been previously spoiled in past jobs with full versions of Photoshop and am fairly adept at using it. Being a person of modest means, I cannot actually afford PhotoShop on my own, and there is no reason for my current workplace to acquire it for me. While I have used the subpar iPhoto camera more lately, I have a Canon SLR which is my camera of choice.

It seems like my best option is Adobe PhotoShop Elements 12 (or Adobe Photoshop Elements & Premiere Elements 12 if I care about video editing, which I might), but are there downsides to it? Also, are there other alternatives I should be considering? I have Googled and read reviews, but I can't seem to find a good consensus. I don't mind spending about $100, give or take, and cheaper is always preferable, but mostly I want photo editing software that is a pleasure to use, which is what I felt Adobe Photoshop always was. Thanks in advance!
posted by katemcd to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
If you don't need full-blown photo editing, Adobe Lightroom may be worth a try. It combines decent photo manipulation (especially of RAW format) and image cataloguing, and it's a hell of a lot cheaper than PS. It's $119 right now on sale, if that's within your budget. I'm pretty sure there's a trial as well.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 8:14 PM on January 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you lack ethics, just pirate Photoshop. However, Photoshop Elements is a cheaper version of Photoshop and may fit the bill based on familiarity. You've used Photoshop and you like it, so that seems like a safe bet.

It's not clear what you want though. Do you want to edit and touch up photos? Or catalog and organize them? As far as I know, Photoshop is for editing and iPhoto is for organizing.
posted by AppleTurnover at 8:22 PM on January 3, 2014

Lightroom is great for both organizing and what I (and they) call "developing" photos - which is to say color correction and "film looks" to get the photos to look how you want. You're not going to be able to touch up people's blemishes or things like that, but if you just want to take pictures and give them a "look" it's perfect. There's a ton of film looks you can download too.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:25 PM on January 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Sorry, I wasn't clear. To clarify: While it would be nice to have some organizing capabilities, my main purpose is to edit/touch up photos. Not necessarily major manipulation (though that can be fun for some projects), but primarily to touch up photos by doing things like adjusting tone, airbrushing out an unfortunate hair or blemish, slicing out something random that ruins the pic, but then blending in the background so it doesn't look as if anything is missing, etc. The tools embedded in iPhoto suck, and yes, I get its primary purpose is organization, but it also theoretically lets you touch up photos in minor ways (which technically should be enough for me, but I'm never happy with the results). Unless I'm missing something, which is entirely possible, iPhoto is pretty much the only photo program Apple makes directly. All of these suggestions are great though, especially the apps from independent developers. It may sound dumb, but I never thought of checking out the trial versions, so thanks so much for reminding me of that option!
posted by katemcd at 8:55 PM on January 3, 2014

iPhoto is pretty much the only photo program Apple makes directly
No, Apple also makes Aperture. The Adobe equivalent would be the already mentioned Lightroom.
posted by Brian Puccio at 9:13 PM on January 3, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks Brian Puccio, I forgot all about Aperture. I'm not sure how to phrase this, but it looks like it has more advanced versions of the quirks I find irritating in iPhoto, but if anyone has experience with Aperture, I'm happy to hear pros and cons. From the description above, however, it sounds like Lightroom (and Aperture) wouldn't provide the tools I want. Sounds like Elements, Pixelmator, or Acorn might be my best bets.
posted by katemcd at 9:26 PM on January 3, 2014

Try Pixlr. It is a free, browser-based alternative and in my experience is just as good as elements.
posted by 2ghouls at 9:34 PM on January 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you'd like to try out something along the lines of Lightroom, you could always try out Darktable. Very similar functionality with the ability to adjust RAW files. And it's free.

But do check the App Store for photo editing software. There's a lot out there now. I've heard good things about Pixelmator. You can also try Pixlr for online editing and see if it suits your needs. If you're adventurous, you can try downloading GIMP, or you can download a Photoshop styled version called Gimpshop. These are also free.
posted by azpenguin at 9:39 PM on January 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I really like Aperture. It's aimed at people who shoot in RAW mode on a decent sensor, and it makes it very easy to adjust warmth and exposure or apply a slight crop, all non-destructively and with very natural looking results. It's got dodge and burn effects that feel very good to use too. I still export some pictures from there as 16 bit per channel PSD to Photoshop e.g. to paint something out with the rubber stamp tool, but most of my pictures don't need that.
I would much rather adjust warmth in Aperture than any of the myriad ways you can do it in Photoshop, and I've been using Photoshop since version 1.0.
posted by w0mbat at 10:33 PM on January 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you really like Photoshop, Adobe Creative Cloud now has a photography option of (renting) Photoshop + Lightroom for $9.99/month.
posted by FreezBoy at 5:09 AM on January 4, 2014

Best answer: I also hate iPhoto beyond imagination. I still remember the joy of tossing it. I was very surprised to see how much Photoshop Elements was capable of doing. They dumb it down on the outside (word choices, easy images), but, underneath, it's still quite powerful. It's also very easy to use. I am very happy with PE and filing my photos in regular file folders like the rest of my stuff. Take the free 30 day trial to see if it works for you.
posted by Vaike at 7:04 AM on January 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am a HUGE fan of Lightroom - what I use to "improve" my photos. The cost isn't bad and great with RAW
posted by aggienfo at 7:15 AM on January 4, 2014

Aperture does have cloning (rubber stamp) and intelligent spot removal tools. It's tonal and exposure adjusting tools are excellent. $80.

Alternatively, Adobe Bridge is a worthy program for organizing and managing files.

Pixelmator has a free 30 day trial.
posted by conrad53 at 8:42 AM on January 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Adobe's products have free trials. If I were you I would download Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, and Lightroom from Adobe and play with each of them for a week or so to see which one you want to buy. Actually, if I were you I would just pirate Photoshop CS6 and be done with it (though be wary of malware) but if I wanted to go the legit route that's how I would do it.

Photographers seem to be somewhat divided in whether they prefer Photoshop or Lightroom for photo manipulation; my impression is that it mostly comes down to familiarity and your personal workflow preferences. I use Photoshop (CS6 – the whole Creative Cloud thing sucks balls if you ask me) but if Elements or Lightroom suits you then that's how I would go. They're cheaper ($70 for Elements, $120 for Lightroom) and you can still just buy them outright instead of paying $50 a year to rent a package that will get your password leaked and which will become inoperable if it can't talk to the mothership.
posted by Scientist at 12:38 PM on January 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: These answers were all so helpful, I really appreciate it MeFites! I'm going to play around with 30-day free trials of many of the programs mentioned here before making a final decision, but just wanted to say thank you for all your excellent advice!
posted by katemcd at 5:24 PM on January 4, 2014

I've been meaning to play with CameraBag 2.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:32 PM on January 4, 2014

Maybe Parallels, a minimal Win7 install and any of the many PC-based shareware stuff? Irfanview? If your editing needs are minimal, might be an alternative.

You're familiar with PCs and this is an option that may also open other solutions to unforeseen Mac issues that come up. The goal is output, not OS purity. (I had to stick Win7 on LawyerWife's mac to allow her to view police videos with a proprietary windows player, and this works. )
posted by FauxScot at 10:26 PM on January 4, 2014

Adobe have announced there will be no PhotoShop CS7 the only upgrade option in the future will be signing up for their 'take all my money' Creative Cloud subscription. Worth thinking about before investing too much time learning a tool with no other upgrade route.
posted by Lanark at 6:13 AM on January 5, 2014

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