Everyone uses mobile phones to take pictures these days, so you don’t have to own a camera before you can take nice pictures. After taking these pictures, there is always one (or more) particular picture(s) that catches your fancy and would look a lot better after a few retouches. This is where great photo editing software comes into play.
Thanks to mobile phones and Snapchat filters, everybody is a photographer these days even though it’s only actual photographers that know the worth of retouching raw images to make them look better. Great photo editing software is very important for all photographers, pros and newbies alike.
Image retouching entails modifying various things, including noise reduction, focus, exposure, exposure, and highlighting important objects to make a magnificent image.
There are a lot of recommendations out there and Adobe Photoshop is always at the top of the list as it appears to be the most generally used tool.
As wonderful as Adobe is, it is not the only reliable photo editing software available. In other words, there are lots of photo editing tools present on the market to discover and choose from.
In this overview, we will be talking about some great photo editing software capable of satisfying the needs of all kinds of photographers, be it newbies or pros.
Having said all that, let’s begin.
What are the best photo editing software to use?
Here are my recommendations for best photo editing tools.
1. Corel PaintShop Pro
Corel PaintShop Pro is a capable and also one of the most affordable photo editing software tools available. Some photographers say it is an Adobe Photoshop option, but it does not have Photoshop’s most advanced flagship features, including Camera Shake Reduction, 3D modeling, Faces Liquefy, detailed typography, and so on.
However, if you want software for basic, yet effective image editing, then Corel PaintShop Pro is not a bad option. Just don’t expect it to be as shrewd as its other more advanced counterparts.
Some of its exceptional functionalities which make it worth trying are as follows:
- Perfect for beginners
- 360-degree image editing capability
- User experience is smooth
- Designers can start working from pre-existing graphic design templates
- Extensive library of gradients, picture tubes, colors, pallets, and so on
It offers two paid versions – PaintShop Pro 2018 version is $63.99 and The PaintShop Pro 2018 Ultimate costs $79.99, for a one-time purchase. It also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- PaintShop Pro is only available on Windows. No Mac version is coming in the near future
2. Skylum Luminar
Skylum Luminar is a great alternative to Adobe Lightroom. Because of this, it has been gaining considerable popularity among photographers.
It comes with powerful image editing capabilities with even more inexpensive pricing. Its latest version, Luminar 4, is faster and provides a perfect blend of both Lightroom and Photoshop. Just with a single software, you get the best of both worlds.
Some of its notable key features include:
- Adjustment layers and masks
- Offers 24/7 Technical and Sales Support
- Fast editing controls with a lesser lag time
- Clever shortcuts for automatic management of photographs
- Folders are always updated with the content available on the hard disk
- Viewing options include filmstrip view, gallery view, and single image view
- AI-powered sky enhancer, and accidental AI and sun rays
Unlike repeating payment for Adobe editing tools, Luminar comes with an inexpensive one-time payment plan of $70. You also get a 60-day money-back guarantee.
- Healing and cloning tool is not always reliable
- Handling of workflow and organization needs to be improved upon
3. Adobe Photoshop
The name “Adobe Photoshop” is already synonymous with photo editing. It is one of the most preferred photo editing software tools available in the market. Photoshop is the key tool for its myriad of fans across the world, including designers, artists, as well as illustrators.
So unlike Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop is precisely designed for dedicated professionals who need all the advanced functionalities in one package. Just think of an editing feature, and the chances are Photoshop will certainly have it. No joking!
It is virtually difficult to include all the features that Photoshop provides. Below are certain key features that would aid you to make a much better decision:
- Its masking and selection tools are simply the best you can get
- Great cloning and retouching abilities
- Photoshop is incredibly fast even with bigger image sizes
- It supports vital file formats like JPG, PNG, GIF, as well as raw files
- It uses adjustment layers for editing non-destructively
At first, you get a 1-week free trial. Photoshop comes bundled with Creative Cloud storage of 100 GB. Its annual plan amounts to around 21 USD per month.
- Provides minimal support for vector graphics
- Relatively costly to other choices available in the market
- Requires a steeper learning curve to utilize its incredible features
- You may struggle with raw updates or beta versions of the software
4. Adobe Lightroom
Adobe requires no intro in the world of photo editing. As a matter of fact, it continues to be a pioneer in releasing cutting-edge photo editing software updates over the years.
Adobe Lightroom is another powerful editing software by Adobe. Preferably, it is perfect for photographers who want a more simple yet capable tool to edit their images.
Unlike Photoshop’s complex and intimidating user interface, both Lightroom Classic and CC provide a more intuitive and user-friendly interface for image editing.
Some of its incredible features include:
- Sliders are customizable
- Blurring and fixing tools
- It syncs with multiples devices
- Cam and lens-based corrections
- Gradient and brush adjustment tools
- Professional filters along with numerous presets
- Its face detection capability helps in organizing the photographs more efficiently
The cloud-based photo editing tool provides seamless editing capabilities across mobile, web, and desktop through a single subscription plan. The annual subscription of its Basic plan starts at around $119.88 and ranges up to $239.88 for up to 1 TB of Cloud storage.
- Limited editing options
- Absence of layers or blend modes
- Fewer graphics designing elements
5. Skylum Aurora HDR
Skylum Aurora HDR promotes the effective integration of imagery to create final shots that look both natural and stunning at the same time. It runs as a standalone app and can be plugged-in right into other tools like Adobe Photoshop.
You can likewise integrate it as an Apple Photo extension. Apart from the traditional methods to create HDR images, Aurora enables photographers to create HDR images from a single file through its AI-based neural network.
Aurora HDR is an advantage for HDR photography as it provides several leading-edge features to create cutting edge images. Below are some of its key features:
- It comes loaded with 20+ tools that help you create stunning HDR images
- It smartly cleans noise and enhances depth & details
- Its HDR clarity feature optimizes clarity and enhances localized contrast for better results
- You can leverage its 80 unique presets to create RAW images into creative masterpieces in a few seconds
- You can use manual mode to take all the control in your hands.
It costs around $99 and comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee.
Canva is among the most popular tools to help you design stunning photo templates. Its simple user interface has enabled millions to edit graphics without any substantial technical knowledge.
Its user-friendly drag and drop editor can be used to add several layers to your photos. Plus, it allows you to easily add fonts and other graphics to your photos for publishing on social media or your website.
Canva is a go-to tool for professionals who want to create photo designs for websites, social media, flyers, brochures, and marketing collateral.
Here are some of its key features:
- You can download its mobile app to edit photos and create designs on the go
- It offers more than 8,000 templates, photos, icons, and cards which make the creation of visual content a breeze
- Straightening and image cropping
- Offers speech bubble maker
- It is online and can be used on any decent computer
- Get access to its massive library of images and designs
- Stores your photos and designs in the cloud
Canva operates on a free plan. The Pro version comes at a subscription price of $12.95 per month. Likewise, Canva offers a quote-based version for teams with more than 20 members.
PicMonkey is recommended for beginners who want to brush up their design and photo editing skills. It provides a complete range of photo editing tools including touch up, crop, collages, and many more.
You can take advantage of its free trial version to test its photo editing capabilities before going for the paid version. One of the best parts about PicMoney is its user interface, which is simple and easy to use. It is also a perfect alternative to professionals who are overwhelmed by complex features of other heavyweight photo editing software.
- A good selection of templates
- Advanced touch-up tools for stunning images
- Addition of features and tools through constant updates
- You can edit images easily through its feature-rich smartphone app for iPhone and Android
- Sophisticated graphic design tools to create images for online publishing
- You don’t have to be an editing wizard to use this photo editing software
PicMonkey offers a 7-day free trial, which permits you to test out the product before upgrading to a paid version. The Basic plan is $7.99 per month; the Pro plan is $12.99, and the Team plan is $33.99.
8. Pixlr Editor
This powerful online photo editor is way more capable than several desktop photo editing applications. Pixlr is a full-fledged photo editing web-app that provides impressive customization capabilities with a simple user interface.
Though it is a browser-based application, you can make simple changes to its images from anywhere.
Pixlr comes with some amazing key features, including:
- You can use this web-based photo editing app from anywhere and any computer
- Its supports masks and layers
- Allows you to choose from over 2 million effects
- You can also download its desktop photo editing software or mobile app
- You can customize the user interface as per your preference
- Allows you to open pictures from desktop, URLs or simply import directly from social media platforms
Pixlr offers a free version. However, it is cluttered with ads, which is a major distraction for any type of photo editing professional. Pixlr is right now offering substantial discounts on its pro subscription plans. You can get a monthly subscription at $5 and quarterly at $12.
- It requires flash
- A brand new photo editing software might replace it soon
- The help section of Pixlr isn’t efficient and doesn’t provide solutions to all the problems
Gimp stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program. This free and open-source image editing software comes loaded with pro-level features that can assist you in creating stunning images. It also allows the developers to change the source code and distribute the updated version. This means that they keep on releasing the improved version frequently.
This free photo editing software is excellent for designers, illustrators, and photographers who are just starting.
Gimp is free, yet, but it offers pro-level features to meet all essential photo editing requirements.
Here are some of its key features:
- Its high-quality photo manipulation capabilities help you retouch or restore the images efficiently
- You can create stunning original artwork
- Allows you to create pro-level graphic design elements
- Offers a greater level of customization through integration with several plugins
- You can integrate with several programming languages including Perl, Scheme, Python, and more
Entirely free of cost.
- You might face bugs and errors due to community development
- It is a bit slower than other professional options
- Gimp is good for starters and professionals with limited requirements. However, it is not an ideal option for pro-level editing work
PortraitPro is among the best photo editing software tools on this list. It was created specifically for professionals who specialize in portrait photography. The software is powered with all the bells and whistles you would certainly need to create stunning portraits.
This photo editing software allows you to correct skin tone, remove wrinkles, fix sagging cheek or blemishes, add eye shadow, among others. It also allows you to fix the poor lighting error.
- It allows manual adjustments to fix almost any facial feature
- It comes equipped with an advanced layering option
- Advanced makeup tools can transform a face efficiently
- Skin smoothening and wrinkle remover features help in creating stunning portraits
- All the adjustments are made in real-time without any lag
PortraitPro comes equipped with advanced features to ensure stunning portraits, such as:
PortraitPro is offering a 50 percent discount right now, which brings the cost down to $59. You also get a free trial initially.
- No option to reset the image to its original form
- It takes some time to wrap your head around the UI
What do professionals use to edit photos?
Professional photographers generally use Adobe Photoshop to edit photos. The software is very intuitive and has all of the tools and features required to edit high-quality photos for any business.
What photo editing software is the best for beginners?
If you are a beginner, the best photo editing software to use is Adobe Photoshop. It is an easy-to-use tool. Moreover, there are thousands of guides and tutorials online to help beginners edit photos.
Is there a free version of Photoshop?
Photoshop offers a 7 -day free trial but is not free. If you sign up for Adobe Creative Cloud, you get access to all Adobe tools and it costs $52.99/month. If you only want Photoshop, it will cost you $20.99/month. On the contrary, there are some free alternatives to Photoshop like Gimp and Pixlr, but they are not as powerful.
Is Gimp as good as Photoshop?
Gimp is not as advanced as Photoshop but does offer layers, filters, curves, and more great features. However, Photoshop is the industry standard.
In conclusion, all these photo editing tools listed above are impressive in their own right. However, deciding which photo editor is perfect for you depends on your preference, budget, photo editing skills, among other things.
For instance, GIMP could be the most suitable option for professionals who are looking for a powerful photo editing tool for free.
Finally, since most of these photo editors offer free trial plans, there’s no harm checking out a few of them before making a final decision.
If you found this article helpful, kindly check out my review on online course platforms. You will surely get some nice photo editing courses on some of those platforms. Also, feel free to comment below. Let me know which photo editing software you use the most. Cheers!