What is Your Favorite Graphics Editor?

Years ago when Adobe made the very unpopular decision at the time to switch to an annual subscription model, like many other people, I resisted and held out for six years while I continued to use Adobe Photoshop CS 6; which as I recall was the last version where we could pay one lump sum and use Photoshop for as many years as we liked.

Eventually, of course, I had to bite the bullet by paying Adobe’s annual subscription rate, or else choose another comparable app. Well, I looked at other free and commercial apps, from GIMP, to Graphic Converter, to Pixelmator, to Affinity Designer.

I really studied each one of them, tried each one of them, and compared their feature set to Adobe Photoshop. In the end, I recognized that for my particular needs, Adobe Photoshop just could not be beat. Thus, I’ve been paying their annual subscription fee ever since without regrets.

So I am wondering what the favorite graphics editor is of everyone else here. Please let us know, and if you have the time, explain why that is your chosen graphics app. Thanks!


I’m in the same boat, mainly driven by retirement and not having work to pay for my software.

I’ve used Photoshop since version 1.7. and it’s sort of ingrained in my head. I must say I do like the new AI capabilities. I also have Affinity Photo, Pixelmator, Photomator, Lightroom, Capture One and Photos.

Pixelmator and Affinity Photo are both good but I find switching between apps infuriating and I almost always end up home with Photoshop. Whilst that’s frustrating, it’s nice to have the option of something else if Photoshop’s not able to do something I want.

Not even close to answering your question but at least you know you’re not alone :slight_smile:

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I too have the old dogs / new tricks problem and the feature set of Photoshop is unbeatable compared to similar tools

However… I’ve taken to teaching my students the Affinity suite alongside the Adobe offering which is also available to them. On the basis that they can graduate and have a set of tools that are affordable. Not all of them, fine artists mostly, will be working digitally. Affinity Photo, is frankly more than up for 95% of the tasks they might look to use PS for. It took me deciding to learn them rather than bumble my way through them. So I took some video training on. That helped with shifting my frame of reference.

That said, personally I prefer the Pixelmator Pro / Photomator combo in terms of UI. It’s Mac only, so I went with Affinity in the classroom. It looks closer to my favourite tool, Capture One, and my general needs, which are more photo related than collage/graphics/design.

It is increasingly rarer for me to use any of these tools, my photography needs are met generally by photography focussed Capture One, with occasional forays into DXO Photolab and Nik’s Collection.


Typically I’m the same but I’m waiting for the inevitable shift of C1 to subscription only. They’re most of the way there now and it’s only a matter of time until I won’t be able to buy a perpetual license.

I’m not a big fan of Lightroom but it’s probably because I never sat down to learn it (I was actually on the first beta program but it was so bad I disliked it from the beginning). I think a Lightroom/Photoshop subscription would be a lot cheaper than a Capture One sub and at least I get something I know.

If either Affinity or Pixelmator produced a decent DAM it would push me to adopt them over all the others. Photomator has some interesting features but it’s too much like Photos and I’m not a fan of Photos.

Curse you Apple for killing Aperture!


Yes, I reckon I’m being slowly dragged into the subscription model with C1. Something I am no fan of. But I’d hate to be without it.

Aperture was so ahead of its time and still held up years even after it was dropped by Apple. I too found C1 closer to my Aperture experience back in 2013 over Lightroom which felt very contained in comparison.

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I too have noticed AI creeping into some of the apps I use. It is going to take a bit to get use to its intrusiveness. I just hope that it doesn’t become as annoying as Apple’s auto-complete can sometimes be. I can’t tell the times it has insisted that I want to type something else, when I have already typed exactly what I meant to type.

I don’t know anything about Capture One, but I can tell you that when I bought the Adobe Photoshop subscription years ago, it included Lightroom and Lightroom Classic. I also see Bridge and Camera Raw in my updates panel. Anyway, the Photoshop/Lightroom bundle costs me $120/year.

Lightroom/Photoshop is @ $14 a month (seems it must be paid yearly). It includes the mobile versions.

Capture One, if you want the mobile apps, is $28 a month, also paid yearly.

I used to be a heavy user of Lightroom, as the local adjustments were very easy to use. Eventually, I got mad at Adobe and moved on, as I’m not a fan of rented software. I bought the Affinity suite, and AffinityPhoto really does everything PS does, but just like PS, makes it a good deal harder than in LR. Most things I can do with a combination of Photos, the Nik Collection and Affinity Photo.
Photo manipulation is likely easier for me as I stuck with film, and the scans are less malleable than digital images. I also don’t like highly-manipulated images (HDR makes me sick!) As I get older, I’m more and more happy with minimally adjusted B&W film scans.


I’ve used Photoshop for a long time (forget which version, but it was distributed on floppy disks), but when they went to subscription only, I went into “curmudgeon mode” and stopped updating. I still use CS6 on a MacPro 5,1 (great machine), with Alien Skin / Exposure X7 software, and an older version of the NIK Collection. I use the last stand-alone version of Lightroom as well, but mostly as a catalog, not as an editor. Aperture is sorely missed…

I only work on my own photographs, so Affinity Designer didn’t seem quite appropriate for me (though I’ve never used it, so I could be wrong). If I win the lottery and could afford a new, hepped-up Mac Studio, I’d reconsider getting a subscription to the Adobe Suite, I suppose, reluctantly.

My past use was mostly with Aperture, so when they discontinued it, I tried out several programs. I have the whole Affinity suite, and tried Capture One for a year (seemed to be aimed at a more professional audience than me). Also many photographers in a seminar I went to used DxO so the previous version is available to me.

I decided in the end to try to focus on learning the ins and outs of On1 and have been mostly pleased. Most of these programs have tricks and depths you can only know by using them over and over. The AI assists for masking are very useful and I expect will continue to improve.

My catalogue to view photos, get inspired, and then edit in On1 is Peakto, which I find has a pretty good interface. They are linking them to many other editing programs and is worth a look at.

GraphicConverter. Screw Adobe and their subscription BS.

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I’m still using Photoshop CS5 and CS6. I have other apps, and will have to really learn them eventually. The ones I have probably used most are the DxO apps. I prefer a few earlier Mac OS versions, so the combo of Sierra or High Sierra with the Adobe CS apps is my comfort zone. I have DxO PhotoLab on a couple of newer Macs.

Hi Seth. As I noted in my original post, like so many other folks back then, I too resisted the newly-introduced subscription, and I continued to use CS 6 for six more years before I finally gave in and purchased a subscription for the new Creator version of Photoshop. I’ve been paying every year since then. But I really don’t mind, because I use Photoshop a heck of a lot … just about every single day in fact. So, for me personally, the investment is worth it. Oh, and yes, I began using Photoshop when it was at version 5 – not CS 5 – and still being distributed on different colored CDs.

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kat634e, another CS6 hold out! Good for you! I lasted six years with CS6 before I succumbed to the subscription monster. :smiley:

I looked at Peakto when it linked to Pixelmator Pro but found their range a little confusing, the products a bit immature and it’s fairly expensive. It’s more money than the Lightroom/Photoshop sub so I don’t see myself using it again.

Bill — I think, from experimenting with the DxO apps, that I can probably eventually switch over to those for processing my dSLR photos, combined with a simple(r) editor like Pixelmator Pro or Acorn. Where Photoshop will be hard to replace is for dealing with film scans, where I use layers a lot.

I can get a lot of adjustments done on dSLR images in Bridge, using the curves panel, etc., so that by the time they are opened in Photoshop, there isn’t much to do except output the image using the crop presets I have set up in Photoshop.

I use Photoshop Elements. I like it because, unlike Creative Suite, this requires no subscription. A one-time purchase ($100 MSRP) and I’m good to go for a long time. I’ve bought four copies over the past 20 years, mostly because it was forced due to hardware upgrades.

Why do I use this instead of other popular (and often less expensive) alternatives? Mostly for scanner integration.

My preferred scanner software, SilverFast includes an Adobe Photoshop plugin. And the plugin works with Elements. So I can scan directly into an editor window, perform my edits, and then copy/paste the results elsewhere. Without needing to pass the scanned data through the file system.

I haven’t seen this ability with any other image editor.


Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator. The trio is so expensive I don’t know what I will do when I have to let go of my million year old version of Adobe Creative Suite when I need a new Mac. I will give the Affinity stuff a try at that time.

I tried Elements 2020, and quickly gave up, There is a way to add some functions to it, but even then, it didn’t meet my needs. Is the latest version any better?

Among other things, I need layers and I also need to be able to store custom crops, defined in pixels. I can’t recall the other features that I need that Elements doesn’t have, or whether it has a “Save for web” function, unfortunately.

I have used SIlverfast for 20+ years, but in the past year or two, I have used VueScan almost exclusively. It supports my 20+ year old Polaroid Sprintscan 4000+ film scanner, for one thing, so I can use that scanner with more recent vintage Macs and OS versions.