Generally, if I'm making art on a computer I use Illustrator.
BUT If I'm making pixel art and sprites, I use an IOS app called "Sprite Something."
I find using Photoshop to make pixel art to be like hammering in a nail with a typewriter - it might work, but it's not really what it's meant for. Since I'm a Mac user, I can't just pick up Microsoft Paint, and I find "Pixen" (while good in theory) to be far too laggy and crashy to be reliable.
But I cannot recommend Sprite Something enough, if you have an iPad it's pretty amazing, but it's fun on an iphone too. It's specifically meant for drawing and animating sprites and pixel art - it even exports Animated Gifs, and Sprite sheets! I can just drag and drop my files directly into Stencyl, it is SUCH a time saver.
It also has a neat little colour palette tool that allows you to pick from a number of colour spaces beyond just a spectrum - like Commodore 64 or Super Nintendo!
Also, working on an iPad means less repetitive stress injury, and I can work on my sprites pretty much anywhere - the couch, the cafe, the subway.
As much as I agree that the tools don't really matter as much as skill and practice, finding the right tool can be a boon to not only your creativity, but also your time management. It's lowers the barrier to entry, just like Stencyl does for game making.