If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is value. Macs, though more expensive than cheap Windows PCs, are considered a good value because they last longer, cause fewer problems, and are easier to use.
Value is not the same as cost. Among Mac graphic applications there are many values. Some apps compete with the expense of Photoshop by packing in features or simply looking like Photoshop. Which Mac graphic apps provide the best value?
Value In The Eye Of The Beholder
Most of the time the Mac360 staff is in agreement as to what constitutes a good value (if not the best value). We compared Photoshop to Pixelmator (1/10th the price). Nearly a year ago, my original analysis of Mac graphic app values concluded Photoshop Elements was the one to beat.
“Not so fast,” said the other half of the Nowak family.
My husband Nathan seems to have a higher sensitivity to eye candy and concluded that Photoshop Elements, while indeed a great value for Mac users who want a full featured graphic app, could stand some competition.
High on his list is Graphic Converter, a Swiss Army Knife app that seems to do everything graphic, is adored by long-time Mac graphic app users (even Photoshop users), and costs a pittance compared to Adobe’s flagship, less than half the price of Elements.
Color Me 1998
GraphicConverter is more than the sum of the parts. It’s really a complex app that converts graphic file formats from one to another; importing over 200 formats (Mac or Windows) and exporting 80 file formats.
Yet, that’s not all GC does. Not by a long shot. Unlike Photoshop, GraphicConverter can create a catalog of photos, perfect for web pages. It comes with a built-in graphic file and photo browser, converts batches of files (resize, change file format, many other options), and even supports AppleScript.
Therein is the beginning of what rubs me the wrong way, value or otherwise. More in a moment.
GC does photo editing and comes with enough tools to rival Photoshop Elements, Pixelmator, and any other Mac app that claims to do graphics. Pop open a photo in GC and you’ll see a somewhat familiar interface. Photo, information palette, tools palette.
GC isn’t Photoshop, but there isn’t much it cannot do for substantially less money. Tools are familiar and range from rotate to distort, sharpen and gamma correction, contrast and invert, plus a few dozen filters and effects.
Got Photoshop plug-ins? Many will run just fine in GraphicConverter. Got scanner? GC supports TWAIN so most scanners work just fine. Got a color fetish? GraphicConverter can manage color using ColorSync or ICC profiles.
My husband has had GC on our Macs for many years and I’ve used it from time to time, always reverting back to Photoshop Elements, despite Adobe’s inability to upgrade Elements on a similar cycle to the Windows version.
At less than half the price tag of Elements I have to consider that GraphicConverter is a true value.
It’s stable and mature, loaded with more graphic manipulation and workflow features than most of us will ever know how to use, and there just isn’t much it cannot do that a book and a day or so trying can’t figure out.
That’s my beef with GraphicConverter. It’s soooo 1998. GC is truly a serious tool with a serious user interface issue. This is really the wrong analogy, but you’ll understand the sentiment—I’m guessing that a Swiss Army Knife isn’t as user friendly as a switchblade. For the latter, it’s click, blade flies out, you cut something. For the former, it takes some digging and experimentation to figure out which blade does what and how.
That’s the major GraphicConverter flaw. The interface may have been fine back in the 1990s, but this is the end of the first decade of the 21st century. It’s time to modernize. Otherwise, if you can handle the complexity of GC’s interface, there may not be a better graphic app value for editing photos or images, Mac or Windows.