The nice folks at Pixelmator, the fantastic photo and graphics app I reviewed a few weeks ago, have agreed to give away two licenses to MacSparky readers. If you are interested, send me an e-mail with the words "Pixelmator Contest" in the title. Please only one entry per person. I'll announce the contest winners in a week. In the meantime, go download the Pixelmator demo and make something beautiful.
A lot of Mac photographers remember that Adobe took a long time to get Elements on the Intel platform. In that void several independent competitors appeared. I started using Pixelmator shortly after it came out and it has quietly replaced Elements for me.
Pixelmator is a $59 pixel pushing beast. It uses your graphics card and makes quick work of most common graphics tasks. Pixelmator delivers many (but not all) of the core features of Photoshop in a better, and more Mac friendly, interface. The general layout is very similar to Photoshop. It even recognizes most Photoshop keyboard combinations. It uses a dark grey interface similar to Apple's Pro applications that is easy on the eyes.
Pixelmator ships with tools, masks, layers, and several useful image filters. I primarily use Pixelmator with photographs and there is the usual assortment of levels, color curves, balancing and other photography tools. I really liked the way it renders gradients in real time. I, frankly, don't need a lot of tools as Aperture has become so robust. When I do need to roundtrip to an external editor, Pixelmator is usually enough.
Having used Pixelmator for some time, I'm also impressed with the slow march of new features the developers are releasing with each new update. They are not throwing in the kitchen sink but instead spending time on UI design and polish with each new feature.
Once your image is done, you can easily export the usual formats including PSD, TIFF, GIF, JPEG, PNG, and PDF just to name a few.
While Pixelmator most certainly is not Photoshop, it is feature rich and a respectable competitor with Photoshop Elements. In my testing, I found Pixelmator easy to use but with fewer bells and whistles than Elements. At a fraction of the cost of Photoshop, you really can't go wrong with either application. Regardless, the Mac polish and excellent interface make Pixelmator the winner for me. For $59, it takes care of all of my imaging needs. You can download a free trial from pixelmator.com.
You can listen to this review on Surfbits MacReviewCast #218.
So I've been getting my arms wrapped around photoshop ... slowly. I can now do a lot of the basic tricks but by no means am I an expert. Meanwhile, some very reasonably priced competitors seem to be cropping up. I've been playing with the demos of Pixelmator and Acorn. They actually are good for most of my needs. They certainly load and process a heck of a lot faster than Photoshop CS2 on my intel mac. However, as far as I can tell there is no magnetic lasso, which I find really helpful. I'm definitely a novice when it comes to photo editing however and welcome comments and emails from you veterans out there as to your thoughts on the matter.