I’ve always liked Adobe Photoshop as an image editing program, but $600 is pretty expensive for personal use (I’ve used site-licensed educational versions in the past). I’ve tried using other (free) programs, but nothing really compares to Photoshop in terms of capabilities and interface. Yesterday, I downloaded the trial version of Photoshop Elements, a stripped-down version of Photoshop that you can find for $50.
It seems to have most of the features of Photoshop that I’ve used in the past, and almost the same interface. The only missing feature that I can think of having used recently is the ability to edit channels. Mac OS X uses alpha channels in TIFF files for masking. I think, though, that I can do everything I’d want just using transparent TIFFs (which Mac OS X can use instead of alpha channels, and Photoshop Elements does support), or using Preview to convert Photoshop documents to TIFFs. I’ve got 29 days left on the trial, so I’ll play with it for a while and see if I feel constrained.
Also, I don’t like the Photoshop Elements icon nearly as much as the real Photoshop icon, but that’s probably a pretty silly reason not to use a product.