Choosing the best image editing software is complicated, not just because there are so many alternatives, but because they all do different things. It all depends on what you look for most in your photo editing software. Here are ten programs with ten different approaches.
Lightroom (Classic and CC)
Lightroom is an all-in-one photo cataloguing, organising and editing tool that also synchronised with a mobile app so that you can browse and share your images while you’re on the move. It uses the same RAW conversion engine and tools as Adobe Camera Raw, which comes with Photoshop, but comes in two versions: Lightroom Classic CC uses the same desktop-based storage system and tools as the 'old' Lightroom, while Lightroom CC is a new stripped-down version with a simpler interface which uses paid-for cloud storage.
The Lightroom Dehaze tool is very powerful – often too powerful. It increases local contrast but also makes images darker and more saturated. It’s often better used with local adjustments and not on the whole image.
You can use Aurora HDR 2019 as a standalone program, but if you have Lightroom it’s a lot easier and more efficient to launch it from Lightroom as a plug-in. You can use Aurora HDR with Lightroom very easily, but the method is not the same for single images and bracketed exposures.
How much color do you need? Color is a complex thing, and sometimes less is more. Sometimes flat-out, full-on saturation works, but sometimes it seems you just need hints of color to get an equally strong effect.
Porthleven power lines in Lightroom: one LUT, three graduated filters. How a series of tools and effects can be used in combination towards an overall ‘look’.
If you’ve got Lightroom CC or Lightroom Classic you’ve got an Adobe Creative Cloud account, and this means you can synchronise photos between the Lightroom catalog on your computer, your Lightroom online web space and your mobile device. You can do this with either version of Lightroom, but Lightroom CC is built to do this […]
Verdict: 4 stars It’s undeniably useful to be able to see, organise and edit your images anywhere, on any device, and the editing tools are now almost the same as those in Lightroom Classic. But you do have to pay for the necessary cloud storage for your photo catalog, and while the Sensei AI image search feature is great, the rest of the organising tools are pretty simplistic – and there are no smart albums. Lightroom CC is unique and effective in some ways, expensive and limiting in others.
Verdict: 4 stars Lightroom has become a standard tool for a large number of photographers and it does streamline the organisation and editing of large numbers of photos. But while it’s powerful and effective, its raw processing is not the best and its organisational system can feel quite awkward.
That’s a good question for those who use the mobile app. The Lightroom for mobile app is free to use but has restrictions which can only be unlocked with a Photography Plan subscription. Here are the details.
Which is best for processing RAW files, DxO PhotoLab, Lightroom or Capture One? Here’s a set of eight image comparisons that aims to find out.