A couple of points first. These programs don’t have the huge range of features available in CS6, or the number of programs available in the “Creative Cloud”. Also, although the “Creative Cloud” will cost a bit more, it will allow all updates and new features most prominent among them “unblur” which is an incredible new feature (not great video available here: http://youtu.be/xxjiQoTp864) which many are understandably excited about.
If you wish to read about the economics of the Creative Cloud, here’s a good link. As for me, I’ll be sticking with what I’ve got. In truth, for amateurs and non-professional image processing, Adobe’s tools are a bit “over the top” both in price and in number of tools, effects, etc. You also have to put in some serious learning to make it worthwhile.
Now, as to the alternatives, in no particular order. These might not be all of them, but it’s a fair sampling.
1. Paint.NET: Many useful tools like layers, unlimited “undo” and various special effects. There’s an ever rising number of tutorials and “plugins” to expand the possibilities of this software. No promises regarding whether it will remain “free”.
2. GIMP: Another free program, the oldest around. Very good for “refreshing” snap shots, as well as image creation. Has a customizable interface allowing resizing of widgets, spacing, color, etc. Also, can “Save as” gif, jpeg,tiff and png.
3. PhotoPlus Starter Edition: Has many free features, but for $90, the full program (if you’re serious) is well worth it: http://www.serif.com/photoplus/x6/in-depth/ and the Gallery: http://www.serif.com/photoplus/x6/gallery/. Has x32 and x64 versions. To compare with other software, http://www.serif.com/photoplus/ . You can watch a vid here: http://youtu.be/rnnHDCRP5gw .
That’s the “Camera RAW shot”, but I didn’t really want to download the free edition and install it just for a screen shot. From what I read about the free Photoplus Starter, it should be worth looking at.
4. PaintShopProX5: Great program. I use it. Has plugins and NIK effects package. $60. Worth every penny. Has learning center, multiple tutorials and forums. Has social media features as well.
HAs a 30 day trial version. Well worth taking a look.
I suggest trying the programs out. You never know what you’ll like or find easy and intuitive. Having worked with PSPX5 (and earlier versions), I can say it’s intuitive, but different from CS6.
I really recommend giving it a try.
I also want to say that what you decide to use should be something you’re going to use, and should have a feature set/usability to match what you really want to do.
I hope this article is of some use to you who might be casting about for an alternative to going to the “Creative Cloud”.
As always, read some reviews of the software. Create a restore point/backup snapshot/backup disk image (your choice) before installing any software. Read the terms of usage. Also helpful, read the user manual.
I get no financial benefit/support/free software from any of the companies mentioned here.
If you use one of these programs, or some other, please add anything I might have missed and your impressions of it.