Despite the adage that the best of photographers prefer to get their image as close to what they had envisioned right in the camera, the ultimate magic happens when you sit down to post-process your photos. A little bit of post-processing is unavoidable no matter how good a photographer you are. Things like white balance adjustment or exposure or tweaking the shadows and the noise and things like this are extremely common and necessary too.
A RAW image always lacks the sharpness, contrast and desired tonal range which you would normally see in a JPEG image. But having bought a DSLR and shooting only JPEG makes no sense. Because then you are limited to what the software inside the camera decides to represent the image. If you are a casual photographer and only want to upload your images to social media, then it’s good enough. But if you are a serious photographer, then it is not.
At Photoworkout we have taken the effort to review some of the best image editing software you can download and use right now. The photo editing market is dominated by Adobe’s creative suite of applications which includes Photoshop and Lightroom. But there are many more equally powerful alternatives.
Many of these new (and old) software are becoming lucrative alternatives for users who are finding Adobe’s products too pricey. Especially, when you compare the new subscription-based model that Adobe has adopted. A lot of beginners and amateur users find the idea of having to pay perpetually for something that you can’t even own, not at all attractive.
Luminar (2018 Version) is one such extremely powerful photo editing tool. We have recently reviewed Luminar. You can read about the specs, usability review and expert opinion on the application before deciding whether it is for you.
Yet another software is the ON1 Photo RAW. Though this was always available as a plugin for Photoshop and Lightroom for some time now, recently they came out with a standalone avatar of the application. You can read a comprehensive review of the ON1 Photo RAW right here.
The above applications including the industry leaders such as Photoshop and Lightroom are designed for advanced users. You need to download these applications to your computer to be able to use them. This puts some restrictions in terms of the minimum system requirements for running these applications. Then, of course, there are applications which are web-based.
The best image editing software does not need to be downloaded and installed on your computer. Online photo editors are just as useful and just as convenient (if not more) compared to their offline brethren. And they are less resource hogging too. You can simply access the application using any decent computer system and a browser over a stable internet connection. The normal demands in terms of higher configuration for running an advanced photo editing application are no longer applicable with online photo editors. You can check out some of the online photo editing software reviews such as PicMonkey and Fotor.
For more precise applications like HDR, you need an application that is designed specifically for making the process easy. You need a tool like Photomatix Pro. This is a standalone software which runs on all major operating systems. There is also a plugin version that works seamlessly with Lightroom. For professional requirements, you should opt for the standalone program + plugin for Lightroom. For more details check out the Photomatix Pro 6 review.
Another software (downloadable) that may work as an alternative to Lightroom and Photoshop is PhotoDirector. The latest version is 9. PhotoDirector is a standalone application for photo editing just like Lightroom and Photoshop. It is quite powerful and comes with a decent feature list.
We have also reviewed the Aurora 2018. You cannot complete a round-up of the best photo editing software reviews without a mention of the Aurora 2018. Especially, when it has the stamp of Trey Ratcliff. Though, Aurora is a dedicated application for creating HDR photos.
This is a better, more powerful and more capable application than what it was when it was first launched. The 2018 version has been entirely re-written. Plus, it has better tone mapping algorithm which promises much more realistic looking HDR images than it was possible with the earlier versions.
The most widely used photography tool is the smartphone. For a purist shooting with an SLR or a DSLR, the thought of smartphones being the world’s most preferred photography tool is unthinkable. But it is true. More pictures are shot with the ubiquitous camera phone than all other cameras. It is thus quite normal to ask for a robust photo editing tool for this smallest platform.
A number of photo editing applications are now available for the smartphone platform, for Android and iOS. These include VSCO, Snapseed and Lightroom mobile. These make up the best image editing software for smartphones that are currently available in the market. We have reviewed all the above three applications.