Wednesday, October 12, 2005

GIMPshop vs Photoshop

Inspired by Tym's adoption of GIMPShop, I finally downloaded X11, GIMP, and GIMPshop to try out. GIMP is an open-source application that does pretty much everything that Photoshop does, but without the price-tag. It's free - or, as the saying goes, "free, as in speech, and free, as in beer".

Here's a few photos from my first experiments with GIMP. First, a standard IR photo, from the set taken in the park. I didn't bother putting this photo through Photoshop because I thought I had enough shots of trees already (heh) but I ran it through GIMPshop to see whether I could get the same effects.

gimped tree

No discernable difference. These next two are interesting. I tried Terz's technique for making colour photographs look like infrared (see here, here and here), using GIMP. This wasn't really a test of GIMP's capabilities (I could've done the same thing in Photoshop) but more to see whether it was as easy to do the same things.

Exhibit A is a colour photo turned "IR":
skybridge (gimped)

Exhibit B is an IR photo, of the same subject:
skybridge 1
(the same two photos can be see here, in their original form)

GIMP was just as usable as Photoshop for this task, though slower, and slightly clunkier (which is to be expected, for a new user). Ultimately, I still prefer the IR photo, but I'm going to be practising the other technique, because the Sony is getting old, and I don't think I'll be able to afford a replacement full-fledged IR camera anytime soon.

All in all, GIMP strikes me as a capable replacement for Photoshop. It seems to run slower than Photoshop (possibly because it has to run via the X11 environment on a Mac?) and the previews are noticeably less smooth, but if you're prepared to put up with a decrease in speed of workflow (which no doubt will be ameliorated by practice and familiarity), GIMP'll do the trick just as well. GIMPshop, by arranging all the menus in a Photoshop-like manner, also helps users like me transfer across with a minimum of fuss. And did I mention GIMP was free? = )



Neil said...

I used to use GIMP back when I had my multiple Linux servers at Jalan Elok. I doubt that X11 is the cause of your speed issues - X11 is just a X-Windows server and if that was the problem you would experience the problem system wide. I suspect that your issue is that GIMP is open source and cross platform, without specific CPU instructuion set optimisations. Photoshop on the otherhand is certainly likely to have been optimised to buggery both at the CPU and OS level to squeeze maximum value out of every single cycle - hence the increased speed (that's my guess anyway)

wahj said...

That's good to know. Anyway, the overall speed decrease is something I can get used to, since I don't usually process large batches of photographs. The only irksome part are the slow previews: when moving sliders around, one generally wants to see the results immediately: the delayed causality means that it's hard to "hit the target" when adjusting contrast, brightness etc (anything that is done via a slider)


i also prefer the original IR. so is GIMP worth downloading for IR or Photoshop works fine?

wahj said...

Photoshop can probably do the job faster. All I did was:
- channel mixer: output to monochrome; upped the green, mess around with the reds and blues to get a nice compromise between white leaves and blown highlights (I find it's always a compromise - if I get the leaves white enought, some highlight somewhere is blown: might consider underexposing, either at the point of taking or when importing from RAW, to moderate this)
- create a new layer, (screen mode), add Gaussian blur to taste
- muck around with levels if necessary

I did not add noise, because I don't like it, but if you want to replicate the effect of IR film then some noise/grain will be needed.

Both Gshop and Pshop can do this equally well. I'm going to try and use Gshop from now on, because my versionn of Pshop is already one generation out of date (PS 7) and I don't want to keep buying new versions in the long-term, so I figure I better start getting used to Gshop now.