Wherever I go, I hear people screaming ‘Photoshop’. As if a good photograph couldn’t be done without this software. Besides the bare fact that Adobe’s image editor is the most illegally copied and used software, most people do not need such a dinosaur (in terms of footprint on your HD and in terms of investment) to work on their images. The latest version – CS5 – occupies around 1 GB on your HD. Most people want PS because they want to show off and to be classified as a ‘pro’. 95% of the PS users use only 5% of its features, 5% need some more features for a few specific reasons (but not to achieve what they want, not really), i.e. in ad agencies or in a corporate environment. In short words: most PS users drag around tons of useless code, eating up their RAM and stealing it from other applications!
Just look over the rim of your coffee cup. If you are a professional photographer or just a hobbyist, all you need is rock solid 16 bit per channel = 48 bit image editing. Most people are convinced this can only be accomplished with a product from the self promoted ‘industry leader’, because they can’t find any other software that will handle 16/48 bit image editing.
A small developer team in south Germany, for more than 10 years on the market now, constantly develops and improves an extremely powerful and full blown 16/48 bit image editor: PhotoLine.
PhotoLine is just a small 30 MB download and installs with only 72 MB on your HD. The tiny size of the program makes it fast. Incredibly fast compared to Photoshop, which I had installed once and abandoned immediately. PhotoLine runs natively in 64 bit OS environments – and already did when Photoshop was still running with 32 bit on 64 bit operating systems. PhotoLine is available for Mac and Windows. You can download an evaluation copy here. Don’t be mislead by the web site design – they are great coders, but not so great in web site design
If you think it’s not worth a try, just compare the prices: Photoshop carves a deep hole into your pocket with US$ 699.00, while PhotoLine is just a fraction of it: Euro 59.00 or US$ 84.00.
You won’t lose anything, but you can win a lot, even if you currently use PS Elements. PS Elements is loaded with unnecessary gimmicks and doesn’t support 16/48 bit image editing, whereas PhotoLine doesn’t bother you with gimmicks but delivers full and smooth 16/48 bit image editing at a professional level.
What’s in the package? Just to name a few features:
- A fast image browser
- An excellent RAW converter
- An abundant array of professional tools
- Non destructive editing
- Unlimited layers
- Unlimited plug-ins (the same you can use in PS)
- A fantastic print engine for any paper size
- Multiple page documents
- Vector graphics for text and shapes
- Several localizations (AFAIK German, English, Italian, maybe even more)
The main window for image editing (Mac version)
The image browser (Mac version)
PhotoLine offers you almost unlimited options to customize your workplace. Show/Hide grid either in dots, crosses or lines, define the grid size, specify the color of the grid. Batch conversions, task automator, lens correction for the most popular cameras, specific tools to edit images from digital cameras, color management, color profiles and conversions, retouching tools like repairing brush, clone tools, a powerful masking tool and filter layers to enhance your images, 100% support for your graphic tablet, perspective correction, etc.
Chances are high that you won’t outgrow this software. Uncertain to exchange files with PS users? There is no reason for this, because PhotoLine can open and save many file formats.
Just select the open/save options in the Preferences or while you are saving the file.
PhotoLine gives you many choices to convert an image with any profile on the market. From sRGB to AdobeWide, CMYK, US Webcoated (SWOP) v2 or Coated FOGRA27, etc:
If you need additional profiles, you can download them from many sources on the iNet, or you can ask your printer to send the color profile he needs for printing (I have cut the top part of the list which contains my scanner and printer profiles).
As a photographer working with images is my profession. PhotoLine is one of the tools in my box (the other one is LightZone). I’ve never missed anything for high quality prints. However, I’ve invested into PTLens and use it as a 64bit plug-in for lens- & perspective correction if I get files from customers. This combo beats PS hands down when it comes to speed and precision.
PhotoLine with PTLens for lens correction, CA correction, barrel & pincushion correction, perspective correction
You are still scanning? PhotoLine seamlessly integrates any scanner you connect to your system (if you have the correct drivers of course). Just select your scanner and off you go. I’ve connected an old Canon Lide 20, a HP B109n Wireless, a Nikon LS 5000 and a Nikon LS 9000 to my system and can use any one of them without problems. However, I use the Nikon via VueScan, which is used from PhotoLine like a plug-in.
The basic print options dialog with a multitude of settings for perfect prints
So what is the catch with 48 bit image editing? Short answer: seamless and smoother color transitions, more information in the dark and light areas, cleaner colors. Just open a 24 bit image in PhotoLine and modify the contrast or apply a curve to the image. Watch the histogram: it will look like a comb after you have finished editing. Now load a true 48 bit image into PhotoLine and repeat your modifications. Look at the histogram again: it still shows smooth curves as before.
The lines that look like a comb in the first image might cause a banding effect while printing an image. For more details about color depth and banding check this post (scroll down a bit to the English version). 24 bit image editing can handle 16.777.216 colors, whereas 48 bit image editing handles 281.474.976.710.656 colors. I guess it’s obvious what your goal should be. Don’t let yourself get distracted by gimmicks like face detection or boring border effects. Bloody amateurs want these outdated and rubbed off features, but not you (otherwise you wouldn’t read this article!).
Long story cut short: if you want or need a fast, high quality and reasonably priced 48 bit image editor, PhotoLine should be your choice. Don’t mess around with anything else that limits you to 8/24 bit editing or something that costs a fortune. And don’t let Adobe mess with your Registry or operating system!
BTW, the PhotoLine support is excellent. Just join the forum or send a short e-mail to the developers, and they will reply in most cases in less than 6 hours (office hours in Europe).