Is PicMonkey a Tool or a Toy?
A friend of mine aspires to launch a photography business. She has been learning composition and lighting from an established photographer. She has already done some portraits, and she had been booked for a wedding. We were “talking shop” about cameras, lenses, and editing. She mentioned she uses PicMonkey for editing. I wasn’t familiar with PicMonkey initially, but my first instinct was that a pro-oriented tool like Photoshop would be a better choice for a professional result. That is just my default recommendation based on the axiom that you usually get what you pay for. However, I knew I was ignorant of PicMonkey.
I’m not a fan of ignorance, and I don’t want to rest on my own assumptions, especially if my assumptions would lead me to pay for Photoshop if it were not uniquely necessary and powerful. I started Googling to find out more. The initial results I found were quite warm toward PicMonkey, but they seemed a little suspicious to me. I came across articles with titles like these:
PicMonkey: Photoshop for Broke People
Making Professional Looking Pictures Using PicMonkey
Don’t Want to Learn Photoshop? Use PicMonkey Instead!
Those aren’t the actual article titles I found, but you get the idea. The sentiment from those articles was that photographers and designers who want to save a buck can use PicMonkey and avoid purchasing Photoshop. I didn’t dig too far, but I didn’t find anything overly critical of PicMonkey. My “too good to be true” alarm started going off. I wanted to explore both sides of the issue, so I posted questions on social media to get some feedback from friends. Much to my surprise, the official Twitter account for PicMonkey (@PicMonkeyApp) actually replied. Here is the conversation, unedited, for your edification:
Is @PicMonkeyApp a @Photoshop killer or a toy? I’m thinking there’s no comparison for pros, but I’m open-minded to unbiased feedback. — Andy Johnston (@AJDesignCo) May 19, 2014
Here is PicMonkey’s response:
@AJDesignCo whatcha doing on @photoshop that you can’t w PicMonkey?? — PicMonkey (@PicMonkeyApp) May 20, 2014
Well, that wasn’t too much help since I hadn’t yet used PicMonkey. Since I had the ear of PicMonkey on Twitter, I started checking out PicMonkey and found a few other questions worth asking:
Thx for the reply! Haven’t used @PicMonkeyApp, but I wonder, can it handle smart objects? What about a vector EPS? Not hating, just curious. — Andy Johnston (@AJDesignCo) May 20, 2014
@PicMonkeyApp Uh oh…just tried and was unable to import/upload/edit a Canon RAW (.CR2). What did I miss? Or can it only handle JPG? — Andy Johnston (@AJDesignCo) May 20, 2014
@PicMonkeyApp The blog is no help. pic.twitter.com/fofz2Z4Yk0 — Andy Johnston (@AJDesignCo) May 20, 2014
In @Photoshop, I can create a new image from the clipboard. Is there a way to do that in @PicMonkeyApp? — Andy Johnston (@AJDesignCo) May 20, 2014
Still not hatin’ on @PicMonkeyApp, but images are resized to a max of 2800px on the longest size. That’s 9 inches. pic.twitter.com/5t5wDoGBbe — Andy Johnston (@AJDesignCo) May 20, 2014
I haven’t received answers yet from PicMonkey, and it has only been about an hour. But based on my initial findings, here is my conclusion:
IMHO, @PicMonkeyApp looks GREAT for light tasks. Blogs, social media, household projects. But serious photogs need @Photoshop or @Lightroom. — Andy Johnston (@AJDesignCo) May 20, 2014
Let me make something clear by rehashing a point from an earlier tweet: I am not trashing PicMonkey. For certain things, it is fantastic! If you need a lightweight, cloud-accessible solution for editing images for a blog or social media, PicMonkey is wonderful. For crying out loud, you can’t even install Photoshop on a Chromebook! If you are preparing images for standard definition or even full HD (1920×1080) displays, PicMonkey will work well. If you just want to make fun edits to images to print out at home and slap on your refrigerator, go ahead and use PicMonkey.