I found Serif PhotoPlus when I was looking for free stuff in the summer of 2001. At that time, their practice was to make down level versions of some of their products available for free in hopes that you would eventually upgrade. That is precisely what happened to me. I believe that at the time I first started using PhotoPlus, Version 5.0 was the current product and version 4.0 was free. It looks like I may have continued using Agfa PhotoWise through early 2001, switched to the free PhotoPlus sometime in late spring, then parted with $22.90 for the current version after the big Florida trip in September.
To be completely accurate, I have to explain that one feature of the regular PhotoPlus was not exactly given away in those days. Compuserve’s patent on the GIF file format was still valid and royalties needed to be paid. If you wanted to read or write GIFs, you had to send Serif a dollar which they presumably passed on to Compuserve. That patent has since expired. Serif still offers free versions of their software except they are now reduced function Starter Editions rather than older versions of the full product.
I’ve updated to most if not all PhotoPlus releases since 2001. It reached Version 12 before adding an ‘X’ and starting the numeric sequence over again. As the picture of the cover shows, it has now reached X5. As with many software products, some releases have been major advances and others have merely added a few bells and a couple of whistles. At this stage, I can’t think of any feature I’d like to see but I’m not really a power user. I’ll occasionally remove an overhead cable or deal with some red eye but mostly I’m just rotating, cropping, and re-sizing. I will play with brightness and contrast to improve a photo but even there I’ll likely use one of PhotoPlus’ automated adjustments. There are lots of features I rarely use and more that I never use.
I do admit to sometimes feeling like a Beta Max owner in a VHS world with just about everyone I know who edits photos using some version of Adode PhotoShop. That Beta Max comparison is a little weak in that the JPG, GIF, and PNG files I produce with PhotoPlus are the same format as everybody else’s and can be “played” anywhere. Plus, at some forgotten point, PhotoPlus added compatibility with PhotoShop PSD files. I have virtually no experience with full PhotoShop and only a little experience with a copy of PhotoShop Elements that came bundled with a scanner a few years ago. At that time I saw nothing in PhotoShop Elements that made me want to switch and there were a few features in PhotoPlus that I didn’t see in Elements. Familiarity with the PhotoPlus user interface is, of course, a huge reason for staying with the Serif product.
The reason I initially chose PhotoPlus, the big price difference between it and any similarly capable program, has lessened. Deals and discounts are always offered to existing users when a new release appears but the most recent update was still $49.95. That is a fraction of the $699 list price of the current Adobe PhotoShop Creative Suite but it’s not far off of the $60.99 price of PhotoShop Elements at Amazon.
I’m happy with PhotoPlus and I’m quite familiar with it. It does everything I need and a lot more. That talk about PhotoShop is mostly for others. I figured that, as a PhotoPlus user in a PhotoShop world, it was something I needed to include.