- Photoshop is a powerful image editing tool with a devoted following, but its complexities and steep learning curve can be daunting for beginners.
- The pricing model for Photoshop requires a monthly subscription, which is going to be a big deterrent for many people already suffering from subscription fatigue. Photoshop’s pricing model, which requires a monthly subscription, is not favorable compared to other competitive programs.
- For basic image editing needs, Photoshop is overkill and there are more affordable alternatives available.
There is no doubt that Adobe Photoshop continues to enjoy its place as one of the world’s foremost applications for image editing. For as long as many of you can remember, “Photoshop” is a verb for image editing just as “Google” is for searching the web.
Offering more features than you can possibly hope to use, there is very little you cannot do within Photoshop, which is why it has become such a successful platform. Even with all of its use cases, there are also plenty of reasons to avoid Photoshop.
As you might suspect, Photoshop is not without its faults, especially when you look at its pricing model compared to its various competitors. The same can be said for its learning curve as there is little question Photoshop is the easiest application to master.
With all this in mind, let’s take a look at the 7 reasons to avoid Photoshop today.
What is Adobe Photoshop?
Originally created in 1987 and released to the world in 1990, Adobe Photoshop is essentially an image editor and is among the most used tools on Earth for working with digital art. If you dig a little deeper, Photoshop is best described as software that can be used for photo editing, image creation, and graphic design, and has long integrated a bit of video editing capabilities to help create animated graphics.
Available for Mac, Windows, Android, and iOS, Photoshop is best known for its PSD file format, which is one of the most common image editing files on the web today. While Photoshop is highly praised for its work by professionals like graphic designers and creative teams, there is no doubt it has a devoted following of individual users who attempt to master its complexities.
It’s those complexities that also have you looking at all of the reasons to avoid Photoshop.
The 7 Reasons to Avoid Photoshop
#1: Difficult Learning Curve
One of the biggest reasons to avoid Photoshop is that the app is by no means easy for beginners or just easy to learn, period. Trying to master Photoshop’s myriad of abilities can be daunting for someone who isn’t familiar with the software or image editing in general.
While there is no doubt a ton of information is out there to help you learn Photoshop, including from Adobe as well as more YouTube videos than you count, you will need to dedicate a significant amount of time to learning all of Photoshop’s intricacies.
Once you learn, Photoshop may very well be the right tool for you but it’s going to take days, if not weeks, to really begin to go more than surface-deep with the app and learn what Photoshop can really do.
Everything from the countless number of icons and tools that appear on screen while using Photoshop can intimidate many first-time users and quickly have them looking elsewhere for a more minimal solution.
#2: Poor Pricing Model
No matter how you look at Photoshop’s pricing model, it’s just not great for users and there is just no nice way of saying that.
At the minimum, Adobe is asking you to pay $20.99 a month for the privilege of using Photoshop on a monthly basis. While they offer you full access to the platform and 100GB of cloud storage space with which to use, it’s hard not to compare this pricing model to what is essentially “renting” Photoshop. As soon as you stop paying, you can no longer access the software, which can be hugely detrimental if you miss a payment for any number of reasons.
Now, Adobe does offer you a slight discount on a yearly basis, so you can pay ahead for 12 months for only $239.88. However, this is still more money than the pricing of just about every competitive program, many of which cost half as much as a one-time purchase.
Things get even more pricey if you look at Adobe’s all-inclusive Creative Cloud subscription that adds Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator, and more for a whopping $54.99 a month. There is no question Photoshop is worth a premium given all you can do with the software, but this pricing model is quickly pricing out plenty of people who might otherwise consider the platform.
- Electronic download of a 12-month subscription with auto-renewal
- Compatible with Windows and Mac
- Create and improve your photographs, illustrations, and 3D art
- Edit your videos and design websites
#3: Limited Vector Management
While not a deal breaker for everyday Photoshop users, the lack of support for vector graphics within the Photoshop platform is a big miss. Even though Photoshop can handle very minor edits for this file type, the lack of support is something that many designers have taken notice of over the years. This is especially true for anyone who has experience or a need to work on designing logos.
Instead, Adobe Illustrator is the right platform for this file format, which means Adobe does support it, but the need to add on an additional piece of software, and therefore an additional cost, is one of the real reasons to avoid Photoshop altogether. If any of the work you need to do within Photoshop requires vector work, you should look at one of the many Photoshop alternatives.
#4: Very Resource-Intensive
Unsurprisingly, an application like Photoshop that offers so many different capabilities can also be very demanding on computer resources. This means for any PC or macOS owner out there, you need to carefully look at what else is running in the background alongside Photoshop.
This may not be as big of a concern for someone with a computer with 32GB of RAM. However, anyone running today’s default 8GB of RAM available on most computers will need to be much more selective in how they are multitasking while also using Photoshop for image editing.
This can be an annoying compromise if you have multiple deadlines and need to do something else while image edits are rendering or if you just want to browse while you work. Yes, you’ll be able to run Spotify and the like while you are using Photoshop, so this isn’t an all-or-nothing when using Photoshop. However, if you start looking at running Chrome with a dozen plus tabs while also running Photoshop, you might be in for a bad time.
#5: Proprietary File Format
For anyone familiar with the Photoshop platform, you know it lives and dies by the PSD file format. This format has become something of the default format for image editing and is thankfully something that alternative apps like GIMP can support. However, having a default file format can also be detrimental to image editing as it’s not a true universal format as would be the case with something like JPG or PNG.
Even Canva, one of the world’s best online design tools doesn’t support the PSD format and instead prioritizes JPG, PNG, and SVG. This means that any work done in the Canva platform cannot be translated in the highest quality to the Photoshop platform for additional edits. Unfortunately, this means that you have to be very careful about where else you might want to use your images from Photoshop, as there is no guarantee they will be supported within another platform.
#6: Too Much Power
If you’re someone who wants a basic tool for image editing or just needs basic image edits, Photoshop is absolutely overkill. This ties back closely to the idea of Photoshop being difficult for beginners as someone just starting out with image edits is likely to find the power of Photoshop to be massively overwhelming for simple image edits. The same can be said for layering, as Photoshop is a truly powerful image editor for layers, but for easy edits, it’s also too powerful and can quickly overwhelm you with the number of edits that can be made.
For someone who just wants to edit photos, grab your iPad and load up Procreate, which costs significantly less and you can make all of the edits you want. The same can be said for local tools on Windows and macOS systems as applications like Paint are even viable for making quick edits to photos.
It might seem simplified to go from Photoshop to an app like Paint on Windows, but when you don’t need a huge amount of features, sometimes less is more.
#7: So Many Competitors
Perhaps the biggest reason you don’t need to marry yourself to Photoshop is that the internet is full of competitors. There are free image editors like Photopea that can quickly duplicate many of Photoshop’s skills without the massive cost.
Open-source applications like GIMP have found a huge following by being the anti-Photoshop while providing a similar set of features and options without the huge costs or even huge computer footprint, like using obscene amounts of RAM.
The bottom line is that for any of the above reasons or even if it’s just a cost consideration, you can rest comfortably there are plenty of competitors to Photoshop that will give you 95% of the features, sometimes at a 100% lower cost.
The Best Photoshop Alternatives
Undoubtedly the best free Photoshop alternative on the market today, GIMP is an open-source alternative that works on Linux, Windows, and macOS.
As far as a desktop application, GIMP is arguably the closest you can get to Photoshop for a free tool. Better yet, the open-source nature of GIMP allows everyone to add features, fix bugs, make updates, and then push these updates live for all users. There is also the ability to add from any number of 3rd party plugins that enhance the feature set of GIMP exponentially, still without any cost to the user.
GIMP includes a full suite of features with cloning, layers, enhancement, selection, and so much more. While the interface of GIMP isn’t as clean as Photoshop, if you’re willing to take the time to learn GIMP, you’ll find that it’s a great tool for graphic designers, photographers, illustrators, and more.
One of the best Photoshop tools around, Affinity Photo gets you all of the best features of Photoshop, without the extra cost.
Available without the need for a subscription, Photoshop users will find Affinity Photo to have an instantly familiar layout. Affinity Photo includes support for PSD editing, unlimited layers, batch processing, focus stacking, and many more features. As a bonus you can even upload 100+ megapixel photos and Affinity Photo offers support for more complex vector work than Photoshop.
Affinity Photo is available on macOS, Windows, and iPad as a one-time purchase. You can grab the Windows and macOS purchases for $69.99 as a one-time payment and the iPad version as a standalone option for $18.49. No matter which platform you want to work on, Affinity Photo is just one purchase, forever.
If it’s hard to think that a true Photoshop competitor can be browser-based, that’s a completely fine line of thinking, at least until you use Photopea.
There is little question that once you dive into experimenting with Photopea the majority of Photoshop users will find just about everything they need to get work done. Photopea offers a bevy of features like layers, layer masks, blend modes, brushes, pixel selection, changing saturation, hue, brightness, and so many others. There is also support for PSD, SVG, GIF, PNG, RAW, and JPG file formats.
Where Photopea shines best is that it’s completely free for everyone, though a $5 monthly subscription adds 5GB of cloud storage, no ads, and priority email support. If you ever discontinue your subscription, none of your data is lost and you can go on using the free version indefinitely.
Reasons to Avoid Photoshop Summary
|1. There is a difficult learning curve.
|For beginners, Photoshop can be overwhelming to learn.
|2. It comes with a poor pricing model.
|The idea that Photoshop requires a yearly subscription means you are essentially renting the software.
|3. There’s limited vector management.
|Depending on your needs, the lack of support for editing vector images is a real downside.
|4. It’s very resource-intensive.
|To run Photoshop well, you need a powerful computer, especially if you want to multitask.
|5. It’s a proprietary file format.
|Photoshop utilizes the PSD file format instead of the more popular PNG or JPG format.
|6. It uses too much power.
|Similar to #1, Photoshop is likely too powerful for many users and, therefore, a potential waste of money.
|7. There are so many competitors.
|Photoshop has a ton of great competitors all with lower fees and easier learning curves.
Ultimately, Photoshop is still the leader in the image editing field, and for a few good reasons. It’s the most powerful application in the space and the one most trusted by professional photographers. The good news is that because it’s one of the most visible applications, there is a large number of excellent competitors that can help you achieve 95% of what you need without the Adobe name markup.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock.com.