Michael Muchmore The Best Photo Editing Software of 2018 Whether you shoot with a smartphone camera or a DSLR, you need software to get the most out of your images. Here's what you need to know to pick the best photo editing software. What Kind of Photo Editing Software Do You Need? Whether you merely shoot with your smartphone or you're a professional photographer with a studio, you need software to organize and edit your photos. We all know that camera technology is improving at a tremendous rate. Today's smartphones are more powerful than the point-and-shoots of just a few years ago.
The same can be said for photo editing software. 'Photoshopping' pictures is no longer the province of art directors and professional photographers. Whether you're shooting from an or a, if you really care how your photos look, you'll want to import them into your PC to organize them, pick the best ones, perfect them, and print or share them online. Here we present the best choices in photo editing software to suit every photographer, from the casual to the professional. Of course, novice shooters will want different software from those shooting with a $50,000 in a studio.
Post-processing RAW Files – ACR Compared to Some Free Software Options. The RAW file always remains in its original state. Shooting RAW has. Canon (DPP) and other major camera manufacturers have their own RAW proprietary software. But I found ACR just got better with each new release.
We've included all levels of PC software here, however, and reading the linked reviews will make it clear which is for you. Below is a cheat sheet of which category each product fits into. Note that some products are suitable for both enthusiast and pros, and most products included fit into the sweet spot of enthusiast/prosumer level. Entry Level: Apple Photos, Microsoft Photos Enthusiast/Prosumer Level: Adobe Photoshop Elements, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, Corel PaintShop Pro X9, CyberLink PhotoDirector, DxO Optics Pro 11, ACDSee Ultimate Professional Level: ACDSee Ultimate, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, DxO Optics Pro 11, Phase One Capture One Pro Nothing says that pros can't occasionally use an entry-level application or that a prosumer won't be running Photoshop, the most powerful image editor around. The issue is that, in general, users at each of these levels will be most comfortable with the products that are intended for them.
Note that in the table above, it's not a case of 'more checks mean the program is better.' Rather, it's designed to give you the quick overview of the products. A product with everything checked doesn't necessarily have the best implementation of those features, and one with fewer checks still may be very capable—whether you even need the checked feature depends on your photo workflow. Free Photo Editing Options So you've graduated from smartphone photography tools like those offered by and Facebook. Does that mean you have to pay a ton for high-end software? Absolutely not.
Up-to-date desktop operating systems include photo software at no extra cost. Windows 10's Photos app may surprise some users with its capability. In a touch-friendly interface, it offers a good level of image correction, and it can automatically create editable albums based on photos' date and place groupings. Apple Photos does those things too, though its automatic albums aren't as editable. Both programs also sync with: iCloud for Apple and OneDrive for Microsoft. With Apple Photos, you can search based on detected object types, like 'tree' or 'cat' in the application, while Microsoft Photos offers this feature only for photos stored online in OneDrive. Apple Photos also can integrate with plugins like the excellent, appeasing power users who lament the company's discontinuation of the prosumer-level Aperture program.
Ubuntu Linux users are also covered when it comes to free, included photo software: They can use the capable-enough Shotwell app. And no discussion of free photo editing software would be complete without mentioning the venerable GIMP, which is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
It offers a ton of photoshop-style plugins and editing capabilities, but very little in the way of creature comforts or usability. Other lightweight, low-cost options include. How to Edit Your Photos Online. In this roundup, we've only included installable computer software, but entry-level photo shooters may be adequately served by online photo-editing options. These are mostly free, and often are tied to online photo storage and sharing services. (with its integrated Aviary editor) and are the biggest names here, and both can spiff up your uploaded pictures and do a lot to help you organize them. They even approach the two entry-level installed programs here, but they lack many tools found in the pro and enthusiast products.
The latest version of Lightroom CC includes a good deal of photo-editing capabilties in its included website, too. Image Editing for Enthusiasts and Prosumers Most of the products included in this roundup fall into this category, which includes people who genuinely love working with digital photographs. These are not free applications, and they require a few hundred megabytes of your disk space. Several, such as Lightroom and CyberLink PhotoDirector, are strong when it comes to workflow—importing and organizing the photos from a DSLR.
Such apps offer nondestructive editing, meaning the original photo files aren't touched. Instead, a database of edits you apply is maintained, and appears in photos that you export from the application. They also offer strong organization tools, including keyword tagging, color-coding, geo-tagging with maps, and in some cases face recognition to organize photos by what people appear in them.
At the other end of workflow is output. Capable software like Lightroom Classic offers powerful printing options such as soft-proofing, which shows you whether the printer you use can produce the colors in your photo or not. (Strangely, the new version of Lightroom CC—non-Classic—offers no printing capability at all.) Even Lightroom Classic (which you might think is above the social fray) includes directly sharing photos to social networks like Facebook and online photo hosts like Flickr and SmugMug. In fact, all really good software at this level offers strong printing and sharing, and some, like ACDSee Ultimate and Lightroom, offer their own online photo hosting. The programs at this enthusiast level and the professional level can import and edit raw files from your digital camera. These are files that include every bit of data from the camera's image sensor.
Each camera manufacturer uses its own format and file extension for these. For example, Canon DSLRs use CR2 files and Nikon uses NEF.
( Raw here simply means what it sounds like, a file with the raw sensor data; it's not an acronym or file extension, so there's no reason to capitalize it.) Working with raw files provides some big advantages when it comes to correcting (often termed adjusting) photos. Since the photo you see on screen is just one interpretation of what's in the raw file, the software can dig into that data to recover more detail in a bright sky, or it can fully fix improperly rendered white balance. If you set your camera to shoot with JPGs, you're losing those capabilities. In my testing, Phase One Capture One was tops at producing the most detailed images from raw files.
Enthusiasts want to do more than just import, organize and render their photos: They want to do fun stuff, too! Editors' Choice Adobe Photoshop Elements includes Guided Edits, which make special effects like motion blur or color splash (where only one color shows on an otherwise black-and-white photo) a simple step-by-step process.
Content-aware tools in some of these products let you do things like move objects around while maintaining a consistent background, or remove objects entirely—say you want to remove a couple of strangers from a serene beach scene—and have the app fill in the background. Note that these edits don't involve simple filters like you get in Instagram. Rather, they produce highly customized, one-off images. Another good example is CyberLink PhotoDirector's Multiple Exposure effect, which lets you create an image with ten versions of Johnny jumping that curb on his skateboard, for example. These products can also produce HDR effects and panoramas after you feed them multiple shots, and local edit brushes let you paint adjustments onto only specific areas of an image. Capture One and Lightroom have recently added even more precise tools for local selections in recent versions, such as the ability to select everything in a photo within a precise color range and to refine selection of difficult content such as a model's hair or trees on the horizon. Professional Photo Editing Software At the very top end of image editing is Photoshop, which really has no real rival.
Its layered editing, drawing, text, and 3D-imaging tools are the industry standard for a reason. Of course, pros need more than this one application, and many use workflow programs like Lightroom, AfterShot Pro, or Photo Mechanic for workflow functions like import and organization. In addition to its workflow prowess, Lightroom offers mobile apps so that photographers on the run can get some work done before they even get back to their PC. Those who need tethered shooting may want Capture One, which is offers lots of tools for that along with its top-notch raw-file conversion.
Photoshop offers all and more of the actual image editing capabilities in anything mentioned above, though it doesn't always make producing those effects as simple, and it doesn't offer nondestructive workflow, as Lightroom and some others do. Of course, some users with less-intensive needs can get all the Photoshop-type features they need from other products in this roundup, such as Corel PaintShop Pro. DxO OpticPro is another tool pros may want in their kit, because of its excellent lens-profile based corrections and unmatched DxO Prime noise reduction.
Photoshop is also where you find Adobe's latest and greatest imaging technology, such as Content-Aware Crop, Camera Shake Reduction, and Perspective Warp. Macamp lite x 1.1 free download for mac free. It includes the most tools for professionals in the imaging industry, such as Artboards, Design Spaces, and realistic brushes. Some users have taken umbrage at Adobe's move to a subscription-only option for Photoshop, but at $9.99 per month, it hardly seems exorbitant for any serious image professional, and it includes a copy of Lightroom, online services like Adobe Stock, and multiple mobile apps. It definitely makes the app more affordable for prosumer users, too, when you consider that a full copy of Photoshop used to cost a cool $999. If you're an absolute beginner in digital photography, your first step is to make sure you've got good hardware to shoot with, otherwise you're sunk before you start. Consider our roundups of the and the for equipment that can fit any budget.
Once you've got your hardware sorted, make sure to educate yourself with our and our, too. That done, you'll be ready to shoot great pictures that you can make better with the software featured in this story. Click the links below for to read the full reviews. Pros: Multitude of photo correction and manipulation tools. Slick interface with lots of help. Tools for mobile and web design.
Rich set of drawing and typography tools. 3D design capability.
Synced Libraries. Cons: No perpetual-license option. Premium assets aren't cheap. Interface can be overwhelming at times. Lacks support for HEIC. Bottom Line: Adobe continues to improve the world's leading photo editing software.
Download Digital Photo Professional Software
The 2018 edition adds a new auto-select tool, raw camera profiles, loads of font and drawing capabilities, and support for the Microsoft Surface Dial. Pros: Excellent photo management and organization. Camera and lens-based corrections. Brush and gradient adjustments with color and luminance masking. Face detection and tagging. Connected mobile apps.
Cons: Although improved, import is still slow. Initial raw conversion is slightly more detailed in some competing products.
Canon Digital Photo Professional Windows 10
Bottom Line: Adobe's Photoshop Lightroom remains the gold standard in pro photo workflow software. It's a complete package, with top-notch organization tools, state of-the-art adjustments, and all the output and printing options you'd want. Pros: Friendly yet powerful interface. Effective noise reduction. Cool multiple-exposure and faux HDR effects. Body shaper and other powerful editing tools.
Layer support. Cool AI styles. Tethered shooting support.
Cons: Not enough lens-profile corrections. Inadequate chromatic aberration correction. No geotag maps. Bottom Line: Photo workflow and editing program CyberLink PhotoDirector offers a smooth interface and powerful capabilities.
New in this version are multiple-exposure effects, more layer options, and a video-to-photo tool. Pros: Manage mode makes finding shots easy. Innovative Light EQ and Color EQ controls. Lens-profile-based corrections.
Very customizable interface. Lots of adjustable effects. Good noise reduction.
Good sharing and printing options. Cons: No facial recognition. Cluttered, inconsistent interface. Modes often don't contain expected tools.
Bottom Line: ACDSee Ultimate offers powerful image editing tools without requiring you to pay a subscription fee. But it lacks now-common features such as facial recognition, and it trails the competition in interface usability.