Gimp or Photoshop

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Gimp or Photoshop

Post by graham_charlton » Thu Apr 11, 2013 9:41 pm Etc/GMT-1+01:00

I have Photoshop CS3 which I've had for years and hardly use. I also have Gimp 2.8 which is my usual digital tool. They both reside on a 27" iMac.

I recently bought an Epson V750 to go with my new 4x5 toys and scanning my first negs with this monster, I realised that Gimp won't handle 16 bit B&W, choosing instead the reduced overhead of 8 bits. Consulting the Oracle that is the Interweb, there is a strong body of opinion that 8 bits of grey are more than enough. The opposing view is held by my mentor who asserts that 16 bits are a must.

During a recent session with said mentor, who has CS6, he was showing me all the bells and whistles and one by one, I was pretty much able to match them with Gimp equivalents (the devoted would argue that Gimp usually gets the ideas long before PS). So I have spent most of today playing with PS & Gimp to see where there is a no-brianer choice, one over the other. I used an 8 bit scan with Gimp, a 16 bit scan with PS. At first, the 16 bit scan looked sumptuous in Photoshop but after much fiddling, culminating in a print from each, I couldn't really put my hand on my heart and say, 'Yup, this is my choice' and the differences were more because of my lack of familiarity with PS's tools.

After further work, I have two images, one in Photoshop, one in Gimp, which are pretty much identical. Exporting to .jpg the Photoshop image is darker and more striking. Exporting to .tif Photoshop just has the edge, again more to do with tonality than outright detail or sharpness.

So I throw the subject over to the brick-bats and plaudits of the forum. Photoshop - Industry standard but expensive. Gimp - Open Source and therefore free. Should I continue to use Gimp or Photoshop? Should I buy CS6 or should I just use whatever falls to hand? I know there will be a unanimous response...

img055-Gimp.jpg (104.12 KiB) Viewed 3800 times
img056-PS.jpg (90.99 KiB) Viewed 3800 times

Charles Twist
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Re: Gimp or Photoshop

Post by Charles Twist » Sun Apr 14, 2013 6:41 pm Etc/GMT-1+01:00

Hello Graham,
My assumption is that the bit depth should mostly have an impact when you want a full range of tones from a rather flat neg.
At the moment, you can get CS2 for free from the Adobe site. That's loads of tools to be playing with already, IMO. At the end of the day, though, the best tool is the one that gets the job done with the least swearing.
All the best,

Dave Tolcher

Re: Gimp or Photoshop

Post by Dave Tolcher » Mon Apr 15, 2013 8:59 pm Etc/GMT-1+01:00

Graham, I don't think it matters particularly. if you are skilled in GIMP and get results that you are happy with easily then further refinement of those skills should produce better results than starting a new learning curve with PS. The learning curve is huge for PS to get the best results and really use its power - something I don't have nor feel I need. Lightroom does everything I need so I rarely use PS except to perhaps do an inversion on a positive scan of a negative.

Looking at what you posted the biggest difference looks to be sharpness - Gimp output has an unsharpened look to it but maybe the export process or the web publish affects that. A bit of extra contrast and some sharpening....

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