Want to Save Some Money? Check out These Free Software Alternatives

Want to Save Some Money? Check out These Free Software Alternatives

Are your photography expenses growing too fast or you simply want to reduce your outgoings this year? If you're open to alternative options, check out this list of free programs, from web design to photography!

Unfortunately, running a photography or videography business isn't cheap; our equipment is just one part of where our hard earned money goes out on. From editing photographs and video files, to adding various effects, and then storing and presenting our work, it all requires various types of software which generally come at a cost. 2018 already saw a price increase for Adobe Creative Cloud customers, and it appears that starting from February 2019, it will see another increase, according to Phoenix. 

However, all is not gloom and there are ways to save your money and use it on something else. Maybe save up for that really good back support chair you always wanted to help you get through long editing sessions? To help you with that, Ghost Malone, who describe themselves as a "writer and reader" and a "pro creator" who has been "haunting libraries and internet since 199x", created a list of freely available tools you can use in your creative business or hobby. 

The list covers drawing and design, animation and film, website building, and others. For example, Ghost Malone presents several free alternatives to drawing, design and post-processing, such as GIMP, Krita, Fire Alpaca, Autodesk Sketchbook, MediBang Paint, and Paint.NET. Another example, for editing vector graphics, is Inkscape, which is free and open source. The list goes on with several choices depending on what you're looking for. 

Workshop table with a laptop, notebook and books on it.

Ghost Malone reminds that because these are free programs, they may lack in functionality or not have the type of tools that you may be used to. However, taking this into account, open source programs also offer the flexibility of customization and the option to build upon these programs to create an even more powerful one to suit your needs. If you want to take a look at the rest of the free resources, view them here.

Have you got any other suggestions for free or low-cost programs that may not be as widely known but feature in your workflow? Share it with the rest of us!

Lead image by Carl Heyerdahl via Unsplash, used under Creative Commons.

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13 Comments

user-156929's picture

How about a follow-up list of resources for free or low-cost photography? ;-)
You get what you pay for!

Rob Davis's picture

You don’t just pay for software, you also pay for support and the whole community of users, educators and plug-in developers that can make you use the software more effectively. I’ve used all of these open source programs and they are functionally effective and the price is right. When I consider the cost of my time however, they’re not always the best value.

Also, how in God’s name is Paint.NET a Lightroom alternative???

Kirk Darling's picture

Rob Davis--O my gawd yaaas!

'Way back when, Adobe had just released its first CS version, I used Corel PaintShop Pro. I basically had to invent every technique all on my own, no matter how many hours it took.

On particular day I'd been struggling with something and I happened to pick up a "Photoshop Cookbook." Right there in the third chapter was exactly what I had spent a fruitless day trying to do with PaintShop Pro.

In fact, that book would have saved me maybe two hundred hours at that point, had I been using Photoshop.

Well, I'd just bought a 5D (Mark I) that came with a coupon for a free copy of Photoshop CS1. I dug up that coupon and I haven't looked back. I just give Adobe my money.

But I've never had a question about Photoshop that I couldn't get answered within an hour, any hour.

Rob Mitchell's picture

One a forum somewhere in a parallel part of the inter webs, there's probably a very similar article to this with the title,
'Want to Save Some Money? Check out These Free Photography Alternatives'

Edward Blake's picture

I save money by not upgrading; either photography gear or software. What I have works just fine.

Spy Black's picture

As long as the hardware and software meet your goals, why not? Too many people get caught up in the update rat race. However if you freelance and have to be on location many times you are forced at gunpoint to have to know how to use the latest versions of programs if that's what they have in their establishment.

Edward Blake's picture

That's the one, Spy. If I were shooting video it would be a different story, but I only shoot stills.

Jeena Paradies's picture

One app which I find extremely useful is https://www.darktable.org/ I used a pirated version of Lightroom for a couple of months some years ago but because I switched from OS X to Linux for other (political) reasons (https://jeena.net/why-i-switchedfrom-osx-to-linux) I needed to find an alternative which would also work on Linux. That is when I found Darktable and after a couple of days, watching some tutorials on YouTube and reading their blog I started being able to get better results than I had with Lightroom which I never seriously tried to learn to use.

question (since you came from LR to DT): How confident are you that DT produces same quality as LR? I am DT exclusive user for 5+ years and never used LR (since I use GNU/Linux personally). Just curious to know whether I am missing something here.

Studio 403's picture

humm, not sure what I believe, I pay $10 bucks a month for PS and get Light room...sounds fishy

darktable

William Howell's picture

This is my free method of tethering my Nikon to my Mac.
1. Download Nikon Capture NXD, this is Nikon’s RAW processing software.
2. Hook camera up to computer.
3. Open the application Image Capture.
4. Take a picture, it is automatically imported to Image Capture.
5. At the bottom left corner of Image Capture app window, select a destination folder or make one.
6. Export picture you just took to the destination folder.
7. Navigate to that folder in the Finder, control click and export to Capture NXD.
8. Now go back to Image Capture, take another picture, then double click on the picture and it will bypass the Finder and go directly to Capture NXD with the picture.

This is a rock solid way to tether, costs nothing and has never gave me any goofy attitude like Lightroom. And you can tether to any Mac, all you have to do is install Nikon’s Capture NXD.

Now I used Aperture, it was excellent, but it is now almost broken, Apple no longer supports the program. Then I tried Lightroom, to tether to, but it kept hiccuping and would freeze or not import. So I researched free ways to tether and I found this new way.
I must say that Capture NXD isn’t the prettiest GUI, but it is very functional and renders the RAW files much better than Adobe’s Camera RAW.

Kenneth Gauthier's picture

I use the new service of good software developments. They provide me kinda alternative software as an example Darktable or Inkscape.