What you get for your money

Entry level

• Support for a limited number of file formats.

• Basic tool and feature set.

• Limited file saving options.

• Some preset special effects or filters.

• Plenty of template-based activities, such as magazine covers, calendars and cards.

Semi-professional

• Wide range of file formats supported.

• The use of separate image layers.

• Reasonably unlimited file saving options.

• Wide range of special effects filters.

• Support for third-party plug-in programs to add extra features to the software.

• Inclusion of web-based design features, including image slicing, image optimization and animation.

• Drag and drop web page creation.

Professional

• Multiple file format support.

• Integration with other programs.

• Fully editable layers.

• Fully editable paths.

• Combination of scalable vector and bitmap graphics.

• Sophisticated special effects filters.

• Complex web design features.

• Wide range of editable pro paint and drawing tools.

• Wide range of darkroom manipulation tools.

• Wide range of specialist image adjustment features.

• Support for third-party plug-in programs to add extra features to the software.

Figure 29.3 Semi-professional packages, like Photoshop Elements, give high-quality results with slightly reduced feature sets and an easier to use interface than the professional programs.

The mid-range price category (US $60-200) has seen the greatest improvements, often producing results as professional as something created with software costing US $500 or more.

Figure 29.3 Semi-professional packages, like Photoshop Elements, give high-quality results with slightly reduced feature sets and an easier to use interface than the professional programs.

The mid-range price category (US $60-200) has seen the greatest improvements, often producing results as professional as something created with software costing US $500 or more.

Professional programs (see Figure 29.4) The top end of town gives you everything that a mid-range program can provide plus sophisticated productivity enhancing features with complete editablilty. Programs like Photoshop are designed for total integration with other Adobe products (InDesign, Illustrator, Pagemaker) and like-minded programs (Macromedia Dreamweaver, Fireworks). An enthusiast will find it hard to justify spending much more on a program that's unlikely to produce any better inkjet

Figure 29.4 For the absolute best quality and greatest control over your pixels, you can't better the industry leader Adobe Photoshop.

print results than programs like Jasc PaintShop Pro, Adobe Photoshop Elements or Ulead PhotoImpact.

The differences between high-end programs and entry-level products are really noticeable in a high turnover production business, especially in the prepress or publishing environment. The array of functions and the level of editability of the files are something that cheaper programs just don't provide in any depth.

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