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PS is nice but I could never get the hang of layers and that price tag is out of my range. I started using PhotoImpact from Ulead and have never looked back.
Anybody else using a 'lesser known' and enjoying it?
It was geared much more to web graphics, than print (like PS), and is less pricey, but still not cheap at $300.
Just took a look at the Macromedia site to double check the price. Interesting to see them running banner ads on the product page. Don't remember seeing that before?
I admit I think PhotoShop is the king of everything, but until recently I used 'borrowed' copies... since my latest employer purchased a copy for my office use, I've taken advantage of Adobe's policy of allowing a "home use" copy of their software for folks who own an "at work" licenced copy. (And now that I've got the one licensed copy, I can take advantage of cheap upgrades! WHOO-HOO!)
Xara makes some graphic products that cost a lot less, and work with both vector and bitmaps, even exporting .swf files (the Flash format).
One of my partners uses Xara X, and he does just fine with it. But I still use PhotoShop.
It's been discontinued because of new product lines Micrografx came out with, but I have seen old copies of the full package Webtricity 2 for only $50 - which includes not only picture publisher, but a nice drawing program and a 3D program (and more I can't recall).
It's got a different technology, object based rather than using layers, and the built-in filters and features are incredible.
It's definitely worth getting at that price if there's a copy someone happens to come across - it's got a lot of the filters and effects that Eye Candy has, and then some.
The final file size I can get is remarkable -- but it's important to treat the resulting files with care. That means not accidental "save as" for any reason, or the file blows up in size like a sponge in water!
I usually take the image into L-a-b color first and run a fat gaussian blur on both the a and b channels first, then return to RGB to use the export filter. This a and b channel blurring helps to compress the files even further wihtout distracting artifacts.
Anyone else got a great JPEG cruncher? I know there are some other good ones out there.
We tried Fireworks as well, as well as several others but always went back to PSP. But remember we are not full time graphic designers, so paying for Photoshop for maybe 5% of our time seemed high. People doing grahics full time, it is probably worth the price, and they probably have the higher spec machines to run it.
You aren't kidding about the demands PhotoShop can make on a system. Ever since they added multiple levels of Undo (a totally great thing), it can even bring a decent P2 to a crawl when you're working on a big file.
Maybe if I had 512MB of RAM ...
Ironicly I just went out and bought a 128MB DIMM stick just because I get impatient with PS. Much happier now :).
I tried Box Top Software's JPEG compression plug in... don't remember the name of it  ProJPEG... *slaps forehead* [/edit], but it wasn't appreciably better than 5.5's "Save for Web" JPEG compression. Which version of PS are you using? I know the "Save As..." JPEGs are always monstrously huge, but how does your plug in compare to PS's "Save for Web" compression?
[edited by: mivox]
Edited by: mivox
The first graphics workstation I worked on in 1988 took up to 3 hours to rotate an Image and cost nearly 400k.
At this time it was state of the art, two monitors, track ball, two keyboards a keypad and mouse and tablet.
Many of the commands had to be entered via keyboard.
The cpu rack was six feet tall and needed an air-conditioned room.
It had a whooping 600 megs of disk space and it allowed you the wonder of backing up to magnetic tape spools that held nearly 150 megs of sequential access of information.
Now I run PhotoShop on a $1,200 system that roars compared to that old $400,000 Scitex Imager.
And I agree with mivox, layers is one of the most powerful features of PhotoShop and truely believe that PhotoShop itself is the most powerful image editing software available.