Lot many times I have heard of people using GIMP as Photo Editing tool and was wondering what is so special about this tool, as I was always a Adobe user who has tried Lightroom, Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and Photoshop Album Starter Edition. Apart form these I have also used iPHOTO and Aperture.
With all such new tools coming into the market, I also thought of evaluating some of them as Post Production of Digital Photograph is one of the key area to get decent final results. In the a same series I picked GIMP, which FREE to use. I needed not to pay anything for using GIMP and probably this is one of the reason that why most of the folks start with such software. Soon I will be writing an comparative article on free photo editing softwares and what exactly is special in each of them. One year back Picasa was one of the software which was used most in Free category. Recently GIMP has taken over it and all this is on the basis of my personal interaction with various Photographers in different forums, workshops or trips.
Let's focus on GIMP here for now... GIMP actually stands for - 'GNU Image Manipulation Program'. Few days back I installed GIMP and tried using it for my photographs from recent Theatre festival but somehow it was tedious for me to figure out various ways of doing some specific and small things. But slowly I am on it and have started using it for some specific things. If we look at GIMP, it has almost most of the basic tools we get in Adobe Photoshop Elements. I am comparing it with Elements version of Photoshop because comparison with Lightroom and Photoshop would be completely wrong, as these two softwares do lot more than GIMP and workflows are brilliant, which are specifically designed for Photographers.
As we are comparing it with Adobe Photoshop Elements, the basic difference is ease of use and workspace. GIMP looks very lightweight and it's easy to figure out specific settings of a particular tool, but since terminologies are completely different, it becomes difficult to locate solutions/tools/workflows for some specific purposes. At the same time performance of GIMP is better than earlier versions of Adobe Photoshop Elements. 10th version of Photoshop Elements is better in terms of performance.
A beginner will find almost everything in GIMP to start with, but someone who has even tried the trail version of Photoshop Elements may not like to use this software. But since it's completely free, it could be a major reason to continue with GIMP. As of now I can't comment on quality of editing controls in GIMP, but I would surely want to try Raw files from my Canon and Nikon DSLRs.
If I forget about workspace differences, backend technologies used and pricing of various Photo Editing Software, I will always miss Organizer in GIMP. Organizer is one of the main need for photographers who have been shooting for longer than an year. It's not easy to organize your photographs and Adobe Photoshop Elements provide a different tool with it which is called as Adobe Photoshop Elements Organizer and it's extremely rich for organizing your photographs, sharing and basic touch-ups.
At times I think of photographers who still prefer to use softwares lie Photoshop even when their workflows can be achieved in other softwares like GIMP or Photoshop Elements. A full version of Photoshop costs around $650 and Elements is for $79. And of course GIMP is for free. People who are mainly into Photography business and earning money out of this, prefer to go with Photoshop because of various reasons and the main reasons are smooth end-to-end workflow which fits better to Professional Photographers and since professionals need scalability, they prefer to go for professional solutions, as lot of vendor companies work on various interesting plug-ins for Photoshop, which solve various purposes of Photographers. But if you are not amongst Professional Photographers and do photography for hobby, GIMP is a good choice to start with and slowly you may think of upgrading to Adobe Photoshop Elements which not very costly, if we look at the functionality it offers.
I will keep using GIMP for next few months and will write more about it.