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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Do You Need Photoshop?

The venerable powerhouse application does it all, but there are alternatives that may be better suited to your needs

This Article Features Photo Zoom

NIK SOFTWARE VIVEZA 2
Nik Software took localized image adjustments to a whole new level with its U Point technology. Unlike the complicated layers and masking required for making selective adjustments in Photoshop, U Point Control Points are incredibly simple-to-use control panels that you place in the epicenter of an area that needs adjustment.

Control Points automatically analyze the surrounding area so that specific aspects of the image can be controlled by simply clicking and dragging sliders to adjust color, light, contrast and tonality. Radius is adjustable, and you easily can alter changes afterwards just by moving the sliders again. You can make universal adjustments to grouped Control Points, or delete them altogether after you've performed other adjustments to the image. This approach is incredibly fast and efficient, eliminating the need for tedious masking, and you can see changes as they're made.

Viveza 2 harnesses the power of Control Points in an image-editing solution with both selective and global image adjustments, as well as structure control for working on fine details and textural enhancements. Shadow recovery brings back details in overexposed areas, and you can zoom into the image for incredibly precise localized adjustments.

Viveza 2 is a plug-in for Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture and, for only $100 more, it's available in Nik Software's Complete Collection of editing plug-ins. List Price: $199 (Viveza 2); $299 (Complete Collection for Aperture or Lightroom); $599 (Complete Collection Ultimate Edition for Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture).

WHEN TO CHOOSE PHOTOSHOP

Photoshop CS5 is still king of image editing, and with a variety of pricing structures and new features, you might want to look at it as an option after all. For photographers who really want the best of the best, you can't argue with the incredibly sophisticated possibilities of Photoshop CS5. It's especially useful for photographers who also are graphic or web designers, with tools for adding professional type and other nonphotographic effects.

There's a steep learning curve, but once mastered, you'll have access to every tool that the pros do, and you'll be able to make your images the best that they can be. For photographers already invested in Photoshop's lineage, there's also much less expensive upgrade pricing available that starts at only $199, which may make the investment a lot easier to swallow.

Now on its mid-cycle 5.5 upgrade, for the first time ever, Photoshop CS5 is available not only to buy, but also to rent. If you buy into the yearly plan, you'll receive Photoshop for $35 per month and Photoshop Extended (which adds tools for 3D and motion editing) for $49 per month, or you can choose to select a month-to-month plan without the annual contract at $49 and $75, respectively. The plan is ideal for photographers or businesses that are working on short-term projects and for users who don't want to spend the money to upgrade, but need specific tools like Content Aware Fill or Puppet Warp that aren't available in previous versions of Photoshop. List Price: $699 (Photoshop CS5); $999 (Photoshop CS5 Extended).

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