It seems like everyone is trying to create the best photo editing software these days. No matter what your needs are, you can easily find photography software claiming to be just what you’re looking for. The main reason for this, of course, is that photo editing has become such a crucial part of digital photography.
Having so many choices, however, leads to nothing but confusion for you as a consumer. That’s why we’ve made a list of the top photo editing software that you can use whatever your needs may be. These aren’t just your everyday photo editors either, but rather those that most people probably aren’t familiar with (though they definitely should be).
Skylum has developed the Luminar photo editing software fairly recently. This is a one-stop solution for photographers of all experience levels. Its RAW editing capabilities, coupled with its fresh and intuitive customizable interface, make Luminar a good choice for professionals. Luminar includes tools to edit exposure, contrast, color, white balance, noise levels, and much more, which means it can do pretty much everything you need it to.
Luminar boasts Photoshop-like features at a much more affordable price. It lets you work in layers, make selective adjustments, and remove unwanted objects from your photos. It allows you to make these edits non-destructively too, so you don’t have to worry about ruining your image quality.
Skylum’s offering is also well-known because it’s one of the best photo editing tools for beginners. This is because it includes easy-to-use and professional-looking presets and filters that beginners can overlay on their photos and tweak further with manual controls for various effects.
If you’re looking for photography software that can do it all from advanced RAW editing to quick and easy fixes, Luminar is a great choice. It’s available for both macOS and Windows, making it one of the most accessible and flexible options you can get. And at a fairly low price of $69, it’s even more attractive.
2. Affinity Photo
If you’ve read through any Affinity Photo reviews online, you’ll quickly realize that it has a very strong following. Affinity Photo is quite new on the market but is considered one of the top photo editing software by many. The interface is nice and clean, RAW editing controls are plenty, and the final image quality is also great.
Affinity Photo has four personas: Develop, Photo, Liquify, and Export. Each of these is like a workspace focusing on different effects and tools. It’s through these personas that Affinity Photo allows users to completely change the way their images look.
The only downside with this photo editing software is that its interface isn’t very easy to get used to. It has a design akin to Photoshop’s, and that makes it harder to use especially for beginners. This is the reason many people think that it’s ultimately better to use Photoshop for everything Affinity can do. However, Affinity comes at a lower price, so it may well be worth your money over Photoshop after all.
Corel makes two different appealing photo editing programs. The first is Corel PhotoImpact. It promises to make photo editing easy for beginners and enthusiasts alike. The software has an ExpressFix Mode that automatically enhances exposure, color, and even composition. You can also create collages and greeting cards with the program.
The second piece of photography software from Corel is PaintShop Pro 2018. This product poses as an alternative to Photoshop and brings many advanced controls to users. PaintShop Pro 2018 lets you make extensive edits, add effects, perform retouching, and even create graphic design projects. Corel PaintShop also accepts plugins to enhance its usability.
But while Corel does make these two separate programs for users of different levels, it isn’t always feasible for people to buy software that isn’t going to work for them as soon as they start wanting something more advanced. But if you do find that one of these programs can help you out, go for it!
4. CyberLink PhotoDirector
PhotoDirector is one of those photo editing programs that’s overshadowed by the likes of Photoshop. It’s very much a competitor to other advanced photo editing software with its vast array of features and tools. PhotoDirector couples automatic options and one-click presets with many basic manual controls to let beginner photographers make the best of their images. The interface is also well laid out, with tools organized under multiple tabs. What makes this program better than Lightroom in a way is that it allows you to work in layers.
The only thing keeping PhotoDirector back is that processes like importing and rendering take a little too long, making for a somewhat frustrating experience at times.
5. Serif PhotoPlus
Serif, the company that makes Affinity Photo, still sells its legacy photo editor Serif PhotoPlus. The older Serif PhotoPlus contains a lot of tools and features that let you edit your images in quite a lot of detail. It boasts a powerful workflow to help you edit photos with a healthy mix of features geared towards beginners as well as advanced users.
However, since the company now focuses on its new product, this legacy editor doesn’t receive any updates. The reason it’s on our list is because of its very, very low price. If you just want good photo editing software and aren’t bothered by a lack of updates, this might be it.
6. Xara Photo and Graphic Designer
It seems like all the editors trying to earn the title of best photo editing software try to directly compete with Photoshop, and Xara Photo and Graphic Designer is no exception. Xara is a capable photo editor and excels in editing both raster and vector images. The speed with which the software allows users to make edits is nothing short of amazing, and this is what makes it such a good option for photographers and graphic designers alike. You can work in layers, apply masks and effects, and make local selections quickly with Xara.
The software does have its shortcomings, though. It takes some time to apply effects to photos, you can’t manage your images in the form of a library, and RAW support isn’t that great.
7. Zoner Photo Studio
Zoner Photo Studio positions itself as professional photo editing software that also helps beginners get a grip on photo editing. It boasts automatic edits that promise to make bland photos look stunning, selection tools that are easy to use and frustration-free, a retouching brush to fix problems with your images, batch editing, and complete support for layers.
All of this makes Zoner Photo Studio capable photography software for beginners, but expert users will most likely not find much use for it as it doesn’t have the polish of advanced editors.
8. Pho.To Lab
For those who like to have fun with crazy effects and filters, Pho.To Lab is going to be a great choice. You can choose from a large number of effects from different categories ranging from magazine covers to changing seasons. All of these effects are quick to apply. You can download the free version of the app to get started and buy the full version to add more effects and remove ads.
Keep in mind, though, that Pho.To Lab is an app made for fun and not much more. There are not a lot of editing options other than filters, so if some serious editing is what you want to do, this app isn’t for you.
Canva isn’t really known for photo editing software but is famous for its amazing graphic design capabilities. The website has countless templates that you can choose from to design your own posters, business cards, and more.
However, Canva does offer pretty good free online photo editing software. With the Canva Photo Editor, you can apply filters to change how your photos look or adjust the brightness, contrast, and saturation manually. Photos can also be cropped, resized, rotated, and flipped. That’s about all you can do with Canva’s editor.
If you’re big on taking selfies and don’t have a beautify mode on your phone, then you can use Facetune 2. The app is famous for enhancing selfies in multiple ways. You can perform various actions from whitening teeth and removing wrinkles to chiseling your jawline or adding a smile to your face. Facetune 2 is an app for those who really want to look their best, even if it means digitally changing their own physical features.
As the name suggests, BeFunky is another photo editor that focuses on creating, well, funky photos! There are multiple filters to choose from in a simple and easy-to-understand interface. The web version of the editor lets you upload a photo from various locations, even directly from Facebook. You can add a filter to your photo and then control how strong the effect is, much like with Instagram. There’s also a collage maker here, adding to the functionality of this photo editing software.
If the free version doesn’t do it for you, then you may be tempted to pay $4.95 per month for the upgraded version. But the subscription pricing is a little high considering that you still don’t end up with professional photo editing software but only get more effects, frames, and templates.
Halide is an iOS app designed for those who want to take their mobile photography to the next level. It has a clean interface and intuitive controls, but the real magic starts when you turn on the manual mode and gain access to many more controls ranging from ISO values to shutter speed. Halide also lets users shoot in RAW right from their mobile phones and has a slick categorizing system for your photos where you can swipe right to add them to your favorites and left to put them in the trash.
But before spending $5.99 on the app, you may want to ask yourself if you really need it. Most smartphones these days come with manual controls built into their camera apps, and you won’t be able to shoot RAW if your iPhone doesn’t support it.
13. PhaseOne Capture One Pro
Going back to full-fledged photo editing solutions, Capture One Pro is rated one of the top photo editors available today. It’s primarily a RAW editor and competes with the likes of Adobe Lightroom and Luminar. Capture One is famous for its excellent image quality and advanced controls. It allows you to edit almost all aspects of your photos including exposure, highlights, colors, detail, sharpness, noise, and more. There are also presets at your disposal that can help you get a unique look in a single click.
But while Capture One Pro is a great overall solution for professionals, its interface is admittedly a little too difficult for new photographers. It’s also not a cheap product and leaves much to be desired when taking into account its cataloging capabilities.
Acorn is loved by many due to its simplistic, even retro-looking, interface. It comes packed with features ranging from basic photo editing tools like exposure control to advanced ones like layer control and removal of unwanted objects. Filters help you achieve good-looking images without doing too much work yourself.
But even though Acorn is a complete photo editing solution, it lags behind the leaders of the space because it doesn’t have strong selection controls or healing tools. Not to mention that Acorn is only available for macOS, which limits its potential user base.
If you’re looking for a simpler Photoshop alternative, then Pixelmator is a strong contender. It has most of the tools you can find in Adobe’s offering but omits some that most enthusiast photographers don’t use too often. But it does this in order to make the software approachable and usable for beginners and semi-pro photographers. This makes Pixelmator a good editing option for beginners as they can grow with the software to a more advanced level.
However, the omissions this software makes don’t go unnoticed. While professional photographers may learn to live without a history browser, they may not be okay with the fact that Pixelmator isn’t really a fully capable RAW editor. That’s because even when you import a RAW file into the software, some processing is done automatically, which leads to the loss of some data.
With that, we conclude this list of the greatest photo editing programs you were probably unaware of because the space is overshadowed by Adobe’s offerings. These programs are all highly capable in their specific niches and for specific use cases. So decide what you require out of your photo editor and then give one of these excellent options a try!