Image-Editing Alternatives For Mac OS X; Affordable Options For Your Photo Work Page 2

Digimage Arts’ Color It! 4.5 is available from www.digimagearts.com for $59.95.

Computerinsel’s PhotoLine 14.5
PhotoLine is the most advanced of the programs I reviewed for this article (#6). The price is about the same as that of Adobe’s Photoshop Elements, but it outclasses Elements in a couple of key areas. PhotoLine supports Photoshop-styled layers and transparency. It also supports working in CMYK Color mode, which Elements does not support. Working in CMYK mode can be useful if you’re having a difficult time matching screen colors with print colors, since CMYK simulates the Color mode that printers use.

#6 The PhotoLine interface.

#7 A typical PhotoLine filter dialog with before and after previews.

PhotoLine ships with an Automatic Correction filter, a Correction Wizard, and an impressive set of color adjustment tools, filters, including a Digital Camera submenu, and effects, including Lens Flare and Lightning (#7). There are also a great deal of web-based features (#8), including a Button Creator, animation tools, the ability to create HTML web galleries, PDF and Flash export, and a Photoshop-styled preview of both the image and file sizes of GIFs, JPEGs, and PNGs. And unlike Elements, or even Photoshop, PhotoLine gives you the ability to control subsampling; clicking the High Quality checkbox turns subsampling on and off.

#8 The PhotoLine Web Export dialog.

The only real problem I found with PhotoLine is an interface quirk. If you enlarge the interface to take up the entire screen and then zoom out, the interface responds by shrinking to match the smaller image size. This lack of a true Full Screen mode is annoying. Hopefully it’s something we’ll see addressed in the next maintenance upgrade of PhotoLine.

Computerinsel’s PhotoLine 14.5 sells for 56 euro, which at press time is approximately $95. That’s about the same price as Elements, but the CMYK and JPEG features alone make PhotoLine far more of a professional tool. PhotoLine is available from www.pl32.com; a free demo is available.

Pixelmator Team’s Pixelmator 1.1.4
Pixelmator has perhaps the most polished interface of all the programs discussed here (#9). It also has an ample supply of filters and effects, which are previewed live on your photo as you change settings. Unfortunately, there are a few key features that Pixelmator lacks. There is no CMYK support, no info panel to supply data on selection size or position, and no rulers, which makes cropping a photo for a particular print size an unnecessarily difficult task. Finally, there is no JPEG subsampling support, no preview image, and no preview size. Pixelmator is a young program; hopefully these issues will be resolved in the near future.

#9 The Pixelmator interface: sleek and well designed.

Pixelmator Team’s Pixelmator 1.1.4 is available from www.pixelmator.com for $59; a free demo is available.

Stone Design’s iMaginator 4.2
In iMaginator the focus is primarily on layers and on accessing the image-processing effects built into OS X. As such, there are limited selection tools and no Color mode options such as CMYK splitting and combining. Still, it handles even complex adjustments on large photos very efficiently, and has a unique approach for tracking filters that you’ve used. Once accessed, the filters stay in a list on the side of the screen, somewhat similar to layers in Photoshop, where all of the settings can be accessed and readjusted at any time (#10).

#10 In iMaginator, using the “Crop Fade Mask” filter to create a vignette.

Stone Design’s iMaginator 4.2 is available for $49 from www.stone.com; a free demo is available.

Also Noteworthy GreenWave Software’s MagicBrush-Photo
In MagicBrush-Photo, instead of applying effects to an entire image, or to a selection, you paint effects on with a paintbrush (#11). MagicBrush-Photo uses a very unique paradigm, but it needs controls that will draw straight lines, curved lines, and connected lines. In short, it needs to provide more photographer-friendly tools. For those of you who are skilled at (or curious about) painting effects with a mouse, GreenWave Software’s MagicBrush-Photo is available for $59 from www.greenwavesoftware.com; a free demo is available.

#11 The MagicBrush-Photo interface.

RhapSoft’s LiveQuartz
LiveQuartz is similar to iMaginator in that it focuses mainly on layers and builds primarily on accessing the image-processing effects built into OS X (#12). Plus, it’s free. The only problem I ran into is that LiveQuartz did not respond well in OS X 10.5.2, particularly when using complex filters on large images (using routine filters, such as Hue and Saturation, it typically worked fine). Since you may experience better results on your Mac, I suggest you check out RhapSoft’s LiveQuartz at www.livequartz.com.

#12 The LiveQuartz interface.

Summary
I decided not to discuss Adobe’s Photoshop Elements because it’s been discussed so many times already. I felt we could use a look at something new. If you don’t want to type in the URLs for free demos of the software I’ve discussed go to www.shutterbug.com and click on the “Co-Op” link in the “Site Features” navigational area, then click on “Software: Free Trial Versions.”

Anthony Celeste appreciates feedback from his readers. You may contact him via e-mail at: anthony.celeste@gmail.com.

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