The Best Photo Editing Software for Your Needs

If you really want to get serious about your photography – or even just improve your photos for the perfect 9-square grid – you’ll want dedicated photo editing software.

Thankfully, these days there are plenty of options for photo editing software, from the all-rounder Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom package to free photo editing software GIMP for those who want decent features without the hefty price tag.

Post-production is increasingly becoming an inescapable part of creating those captivating shots, which makes the program you pick so important. In this blog post, we round up the best photo editing software to use in 2019.

Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan: Photoshop & Lightroom

The biggest image editing name in the photography world, Adobe’s suite of post-production programs is incomparable.

The Adobe Creative Cloud plan bundles two of the best photo editing software into one: Photoshop and Lightroom. This plan is available for a monthly or annual subscription fee.

With Lightroom, photographers can organise, manage, and edit a large quantity of images in one place. The developer mode enables you to make non-destructive adjustments to RAW files using presets and sliders which are easy to learn, find, and use.

 

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Image courtesy of wheretowillie.com

On the other hand, Photoshop has a greater focus on manipulating images, including retouching shots, video editing and more. It offers expansive editing capabilities using multiple layers and masks, which makes it largely popular among graphic designers, animators, publishers, and a slew of other artists.

If you don’t want to be bogged down with ongoing fees, you can also buy Photoshop and Lightroom separately as one-off payments. The Adobe Creative Cloud software can be used on both desktop and mobile, making them easy to share online without fuss.

Adobe Photoshop Elements

Sticking with Adobe for now, Photoshop Elements provides great photo editing software for beginners. Unlike the Creative Cloud plan, Elements is available as a cheaper one-time payment.

Elements covers the basic tools you’ll need for simple editing. It’s the perfect forerunner for you to make the leap into one of the more complex photo editing programs, by providing different user tiers for you to toggle between Quick Edits, Guided Mode, or Expert.

With Photoshop Elements, you’ll have access to accurate blemish removal tools and HDR tools, along with some 90 creative filters. In 2019, you’ll also see automated collages and slideshows, a revised home screen, new collage templates, and creative guided edits.

GIMP

The GNU Image Manipulation Program or GIMP is a free, open-source image editing software. Yes, free. This makes it a great photo editing program for those who want to test the ground before committing to paid professional software.

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Image courtesy of Web UPD8

Even though it’s free, GIMP has many of the same sophisticated features as Photoshop, with around 150 standard effects and filters. Whether you need to sharpen, blur, or alter contrast or colour, you can do it with GIMP.

It can be complicated to learn to use GIMP but as with most of these post-production programs, there are plenty of tutorials online that will assist you greatly in learning the ins and outs of the software. Helpfully, when you hover over each icon, a description will appear, so you have a better idea of what you are clicking on.

Even though it’s one of the more difficult post-production programs to master, there isn’t a free post-production program quite like GIMP.

DxO PhotoLab

Made for both Mac and Windows computers, DxO PhotoLab comes with a suite of processing and correction tools.

DxO PhotoLab offers perhaps the best noise reduction and auto-correction tools of all photo editing software. Expect enhanced de-noising, precise optical corrections, and accurate brightness and contrast adjustments.

DxO PhotoLab comes with manual and auto modes and customised profiles, along with a clean interface and file management, making it a fantastic package for your post-production needs.

Serif Affinity Photo

Once one of the best photo editing software for Macs, Affinity is now available for Windows users too.

If you don’t need the file management help you get from Lightroom, and you just want a production editor for an affordable one-time fee, Affinity Photo might be for you.

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Image courtesy of webdesignerdemo.com

Affinity Photo is one of the more complicated programs out there, making it better for experienced photographers. Of course, there are plenty of tutorials to get you up to speed in no time.

Soon, you’ll be playing with their modules, called personas, and adjusting and enhancing exposure, contrast, and clarity in the basics tab. Affinity Photo also has powerfully advanced layers, content aware, and HDR tools for in-depth edits.

In case you’re making the same adjustment to many images there’s even the option to add your own presets.

Corel PaintShop Pro

Another worthy Photoshop alternative is Corel PaintShop Pro. PaintShop has an easy-to-use, clean interface with powerful non-destructive RAW file editing capabilities.

You can compare the original image side-by-side with the edited photo as you go, so you can see your alterations in action. You can also edit 360-degree photos.

PaintShop uses a layer-based workflow and comes with dozens of different textures, brushes, and backgrounds. Unlike Photoshop, PaintShop also enables photo organisation.

Make note, this is a Windows-only program. Mac users may want to revisit Affinity Photo above.

Admirable mentions

It’s hard to narrow down the field when it comes to photo editing software, with so many brands improving their programs all the time. So we can’t help but mention Capture One and ON1 Photo RAW.

Capture One comes with a good photo adjustment toolset and enables brilliant workflow and management. It provides arguably the best detail in RAW file conversion and is impressively fast with imports.

ON1 Photo Raw 2019 is just a one-off payment that keeps your workflow sophisticated by simple. You can enjoy non-destructive, layers editing, focus stacking, auto-alignment, and so much more.

You can try all these photo editing programs for free, so it’s best to give them a go and see which one is the best fit for you. Find out more about producing quality snaps with plenty of tips and advice on our Camera House blog today.

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1 comment

  • Craig says:

    I am a big fan of the Corel software suite especially Aftershot Pro. Very affordable and very functional and incredibly easy to use.

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