Verdict: 3.3 stars Luminar Neo uses Skylum’s latest AI tech across its wide range of tools to automatically enhance your images or to make it easier for you to enhance them yourself. The results can be spectacular, variable or, occasionally, somewhat pointless, but there’s no denying its ability to transform regular photos into more dramatic, more spectacular and more ‘idealized’ versions of reality. But its constant updates and increasingly complex bundles, extensions and paid add-ons don’t inspire a lot of long-term confidence.
Life after Photoshop software reviews
Choosing the right software isn't easy and you often have to try quite a few different applications to find the ones that suit you. We're all looking for different things, and quite often a single piece of software won't do everything that we need.
Some people simply want a Photoshop replacement without the subscription payments, some want an image cataloguing tool that can also carry out photo enhancements, some primarily want an image effects tool for crafting a very particular 'look'. Most of us want a bit of all of these things.
• Always download the trial version if there is one. My best guess at what photographers need is not necessarily right for you.
These reviews are designed not just to see whether the software out there is any good or not, but to explain exactly what it does and how it might fit into your workflow.
I don't review every program out there, only those which I personally consider add something significant to the image-editing process. There are some notable and quite possibly very popular programs not in my review list but that's because – and I don't want to upset any publishers out there – I don't think they're different enough, interesting enough or just plain good enough.
Verdict: 5 stars . Color Efex Pro 5 has been modernized and streamlined as part of the Nik Collection 5 update, and when I thought it could hardly be any better – well it’s even better. Color Efex Pro 5 is a big collection of photographic and digital filters which can be used individually or in combination for an almost limitless range of effects. Color Efex Pro 5 replaces the old and somewhat dated interface, adds more controllable control points and DxO’s ClearView contrast enhancement. It was brilliant before, and it’s even more brilliant now.
Verdict: 5 stars Analog Efex Pro 3 is a new and revamped version of the analog effects plug-in in the DxO Nik Collection. It goes way beyond most analog photography tools, offering not just film styles, grain effects and borders, but creative vignetting, bokeh, lens blur, lens distortion, double-exposures, motion blur and more to simulate a huge variety of ‘old camera’ looks. There are other good vintage/analog tools out there, but none that go as far as Analog Efex Pro, and version 3, introduced with Nik Collection 5, is streamlined, updated and even better.
Verdict: 5 stars You could argue that only a modest amount has changed here from Nik Collection 4, but I would offer a counter-argument, that it was already so good there was little room left for improvement. To my mind, the Nik Collection is creatively and functionally so far ahead of anything else, that there’s almost no case to answer. If your photography needs an injection of inspiration, style, or creativity, this is where you’ll find it. If you already have Nik Collection 4 and don’t want to upgrade, you’re not missing too much. But if you don’t, you should just buy it – or at least download the trial.
Verdict: 3 stars Paint Shop Pro 2023 offers a lot of features for not much money, but only on paper. In use it’s clunky, dated and often counterintuitive – to me, at least. The image organization tools are adequate and no more, while the RAW processing, courtesy of the ‘integration’ of After Shot Lab, is a similar story. The editing and effects tools are all right, as far as they go, but it’s clear that Corel is pitching Paint Shop Pro at a beginner/crafting/value market rather than serious photographers.
Verdict: 2.5 stars ACDSee Photo Studio for Mac 8 is the MacOS version of ACDSee’s all-in-one Photo Studio application. From its features, it looks like a strong rival to Lightroom or ON1 Photo RAW, for example, but the reality is very different. It’s both basic and technical at the same time, it’s missing features many might take for granted, and it looks like a Windows program ported on to the Mac, even if it isn’t.
Verdict 4.3 stars: ON1 Resize AI 2022 is a tool for upsizing your photos so that they can be viewed or printed larger. It adds more pixels to make a larger, more detailed photo than you had before. There’s no hype or resizing ‘magic’ here, just a very good implementation of the power of AI.
Verdict 4.8 stars: ON1 Effects 2022 is a standalone version of the Effects module in ON1 Photo RAW. The effects and tools are excellent, and this is a cheaper proposition that can also fit perfectly with your existing workflow.
Verdict: 4.5 stars Lightroom Classic’s latest masking tool updates make it more powerful than ever, though it’s still not fast to use and its interface is quite cluttered and oppressive. And do we still need all these different modules?
Verdict: 4.8 stars Capture One 22 brings built in HDR and panorama merge, and new and improved perspective controls, adding to its excellent raw processing, color controls and local adjustments. This Lightroom rival is expensive, but you get what you pay for.