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December 4, 2013

by Jackie Dove–Senior Editor, Macworld

Now that Adobe has made Photoshop CC the linchpin of its Creative Cloud subscription strategy, photo enthusiasts are more than ever seeking alternatives to the engine that has driven the modern image-editing industry for more than 20 years.

Subscriptions to Photoshop via Creative Cloud cost $50 per month and are popular with a certain segment of Adobe users, mostly the cadre of commercial artists, graphic designers, Web developers, and photographers who use multiple apps for high-end professional work.

To sweeten the deal for photographers, Adobe is now offering a special photo-oriented subscription package targeted to previous users that includes Photoshop and Lightroom for $10 per month (based on a year’s commitment), until December

31. A similar offer targeting everyone else, regardless of past Photoshop ownership, runs until December 2. The upshot is that for photographers who considered $50 a month excessive for purchasing programs they will not use, there’s a less expensive option available until the end of the year.

But a subscription is still a subscription. And even some Creative Cloud cheerleaders may now be pausing to reconsider this path, especially in light of recent issues with Adobe security. That, added to general consumer opposition to subscription software, may play a role in an accelerated quest for a Photoshop alternative.

Even when Photoshop was available as a perpetual license, the $699 standard edition price tag was steep, as was the $350 upgrade price, though a hefty portion of enthusiasts were willing to fork over that amount for the best image editor money could buy. Adobe continues to sell Photoshop CS6, the last per-subscription version.

We poked around and found nine good prospects that would be suitable for most amateurs and photo enthusiasts. Some of those alternatives, not surprisingly, come from Adobe itself, while others emerge from familiar vendors like Apple and Corel, as well as more recent players in the software marketplace. Note that prices can vary, and those below are the latest from the vendor’s websites.

Photoshop CC is the granddaddy of all image-editing programs and the standard by which competitors are judged.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 12 ($100)

Photoshop Elements is a full-featured photo-editing package, a light version of Adobe’s flagship Photoshop CC.

Click here to see the rest of this detailed article.