What GIMP needs to implement for me to stop using Adobe. (Thus saving myself and others $600+)
- RAW Support (preferably the new standard of DNG)
- 16bit File Editing
- XMP Tag support
- Panorama Tool
- Adjustment layers
Number 1 is important for those of us who wish to capture the camera’s RAW data and then losslessly manipulate it before getting it into the image editing program. There are some plugins which do bits here and there of RAW support, but I need it to be much closer to at least Adobe CS 1. For those who, like me, do editing on nearly every photo, 16 bit files are important because each pixel holds more data and, therefore, less is lost overall with each edit. XMP tag support is important as it is the standard for applying tags, titles, and copyright notices to photos. Many agencies expect this and it also allows for pretagging of photos so that they upload to flickr with tags already in place. I was so happy when flickr finally adapted that ability. The panorama tool is alone amongst these five as just me being spoiled. There are many ways to create your own panoramas by meticulously lining up the photos and messing with the layer masks. But I don’t want that! Why? Because Photoshop almost always gets things perfectly, allowing me to do what a photographer is supposed to be able to do – be creative! I don’t want to fiddle endlessly to get a panorama to work or it’s not fun for me. Endless tweaking is ok when I’m programming, but it frustrates me to no end with photography. Finally, #5 is almost the most important feature. In Photoshop adjustment layers are layers for some of the adjustments one normally makes TO a layer. In other words, instead of tweaking the luminosity on a layer, you create a luminosity layer tweak. This does many important things. First of all, it is non-destructive to the photo. If, twenty steps down the line, you don’t like the effect anymore, just remove the layer. You don’t have to undo through 20 steps and lose all that you’ve done along the way. Ever since I discovered adjustment layers they completely changed the way I worked. Second, you can make adjustments to your adjustment later without having to go back through the undo stack. If you know what I’m talking about, you know how useful this is.
That’s not to say that The GIMP isn’t a great tool. Every issue of Linux Format Magazine contains GIMP tutorials which produce very professional looking results. It’s just those five items (and really only 3 or 4 of them) that keep people from jumping ship. Everything else in Photoshop like the plugins, for example, have been replicated in The GIMP by a great user community. Not only would a lot of people go to the GIMP if they could get these features, but it would certainly put a LOT of pressure on Adobe. It might lower the price for its flagship product, add more features, or port it to Linux. Either scenario benefits the greatest good.
The GIMP team is doing a lot of good work and I have no doubts that they will be able to encompass most, if not all of these features, within a few years. When they do, I’ll be waiting to join them. And, this is not meant to just be a diatribe against them, they really are a great group! Keep up the good work guys!