What every photographer, whether a professional or a beginner, wants is to get the maximum out of the images they capture. Cameras, lenses, and other pieces of equipment enable users to get desired results, but we should not undermine the importance of photo editing software.
With a few clicks, we can see a certain effect and take our images to a whole new level. Luckily, there are plenty of options we can consider. In this post, we are going to focus on the best photo editing software you can find today.
1. Adobe Photoshop (Overall Winner)
When it comes to photo editing software Photoshop is, by far, the most popular tool out there. In fact, Photoshop started the digital image editing, or manipulation, revolution which paved the way for the development of other software but also gave the opportunity to photographers and other visual artists to explore and showcase their creativity. Adobe Photoshop features a multitude of photo correction and manipulation tools such as removing backgrounds from images.
The slick interface is quite easy to navigate. Photoshop also has tools for mobile and web design as well as 3D design capability and so much more. Users can opt for the best plan that suits their needs and preferences the most. That being said, premium tools and packages can be quite pricey.
Chances are you have heard (and read) a lot about Adobe Lightroom as it’s in the group among the most widely used photo editing software. Lightroom is ideal for beginners and people who think Adobe Photoshop is too complex for them to handle. Adobe Lightroom allows users to edit their photos in an intuitive, user-friendly interface with a wide spectrum of features.
Some features available to Lightroom users include customizable sliders, face detection for photo organization, presets and professional filters, blurring and fixing tools, gradient and brush adjustments, among others.
Camera and lens-based corrections, tagging, plug-in support, and connected mobile apps are also available in Lightroom. It is worth noting that import can be slow. In terms of pricing, just like with Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom has several plans and involves monthly payments.
Skylum Luminar has quite quickly become one of the most popular photo editing software tools for professional photographers. Unlike some other software which requires monthly payments, when buying Luminar, you pay a one-time flat fee. Moreover, you can use Luminar on its own or as a plug-in for Photoshop, Lightroom, or Apple Photos.
One of the most distinctive features of Luminar is the AI slider which performs a quick automatic fix for everything from toning, brightening, clarifying, to other adjustments. A slight disadvantage of Skylum Luminar is the absence of keyword tagging and facial recognition.
4. DxO PhotoLab
DxO PhotoLab was designed by photographers for other photographers to provide the most flexible and powerful processing and correction tools on the market. This tool has a clear interface and best-in-class noise reduction. Speaking of noise reduction, you need to bear in mind that selecting the highest value can require long waits. In DxO PhotoLab you can remove haze, perform local adjustments, geometry corrections, and other moves to take your photo to a whole new level.
Just like Adobe Photoshop, DxO PhotoLab has excellent autocorrection based on the characteristics of camera and lens. The 30-day free trial is available for potential users who’d like to see how it works prior to making a decision whether to buy the software or not.
5. Aurora HDR
Aurora HDR is an award-winning photo editing software designed specifically for HDR photographers. This particular tool is based on the Quantum HDR engine and powered on artificial intelligence. Users have over 20 tools at their disposal to enhance the quality of their HDR images. Some features that Aurora HDR has to offer are color toning, polarizing filters, vignetting, dodge and burning, among others.
Exclusive tools associated with this photo editing software are HDR Clarity, HDR Smart Structure, and HDR Denoise. Users have access to about 80 unique looks or presets. Just like Photolemur, Aurora HDR works as standalone software or as a plug-in you can integrate into Apple Photos, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Lightroom. Purchasing of Aurora HDR is done in a single payment, no monthly fees and payments are involved.
6. Capture One
If you have never tried Capture One, you should definitely do so. This is a RAW image editor created by Phase One. Although similar to other photo editing tools Capture One has some noticeable distinctions. For starters, the user interface is entirely customizable. Users have the liberty to change the layout according to their liking and create or modify keyboard shortcuts.
While many tools for editing photos haven’t worked out a solution to make layers easier to handle, Capture One features many adjustments for each layer to simplify the whole process. Moreover, Capture One offers more flexibility with sliders that adjust the granularity of color changes, even if it’s the same color.
While editing photos in Capture One, you can make notes to yourself. This can be particularly useful if you’re collaborating on a project with someone. Operating with large volumes of photos, particularly 20MP RAW files, can take a while as many tools are slow, but Capture One proves to be fast in this situation. However, it’s useful to mention that Capture One has no online sharing features, face recognition, or panorama and HDR-merging options. The free 30-day trial is available.
Adobe Photoshop Elements offers a multitude of useful tools and features that even inexperienced users can handle with ease. Automated editing options and step-by-step guidance allow beginners to easily enhance the quality of their photos and learn at the same time. With Photoshop Elements, you can adjust color and light, remove scratches, repair old photos, open closed eyes, and so much more.
Adobe Sensei AI creates slideshows and collages to highlight memorable moments. Users get to create collages with fewer clicks and utilize a vast selection of templates. Photoshop Elements has strong face and geo-tagging capabilities, organizing features, and excellent output options. The search option and auto-tagging are also provided. However, keep in mind there are no chromatic aberration correction or lens geometry profiles.
If you are looking for a straightforward photo-editing software, then Corel PaintShop Pro is a good choice. This tool is ideal for people who want a simple interface and easy yet effective approach to editing their photos. While it is not as “fancy” as Adobe software, Corel Paintshop Pro has a number of features and options to take your images to a new level. This tool has powerful effects, a good assortment of vector drawing tools, tutorials, and many other features.
For instance, PhotoMirage allows users to turn any image into an engaging animation in three simple steps while the ParticleShop brush plug-in transforms photos into extraordinary images. A one-time payment is enough for purchasing Corel PaintShop Pro, but it’s useful to mention this software is for Windows users only.
Affinity Photo is practical editing software that has many features of Adobe Photoshop but at a much lower price. The speed, power, and precision of this software are the main reasons why many professional photographers use it to edit their images. Whether you’re using Windows or macOS, Affinity Photo is easily compatible with your device.
Some features offered by this software include RAW editing, HDR merge, panorama stitching, focus stacking, batch processing, PSD editing, 360 image editing, multi-layer comp, pro retouch, and digital painting among others. Despite a relatively low price, Affinity Photo is still feature-laden and easy to navigate, even for beginners. It’s useful to mention that at this point, this software doesn’t feature cataloging and browsing tools.
10. Photolemur (Budget Winner)
Photolemur is an automatic photo enhancer that relies on artificial intelligence to apply all the enhancements an image needs. In other words, the software does all the work on its own. A user just needs to upload an image and Photolemur takes it from there.
Not only does Photolemur offer various plans, but it also has a free version that people can use as long as they want. Bear in mind that the free version involves a watermark, and doesn’t offer batch processing. Photolemur is a great option for portrait photographers due to its Face Finish technology which removes imperfections, whitens teeth, and enhances eyes. Beginners may find Photolemur incredibly easy to use.
Bottom Line on Photo Editing Software
Photo editing software allows photographers to get the most out of the images they take with a few clicks and moves of the slider. But, in order to achieve the desired effect, you need to choose the best photo editing software wisely.
Nowadays, there are different kinds of tools and platforms with tons of features, but it’s crucial to opt for the one that offers features you need. Think about the images you edit, options you want, and determine what software suits you best.