More and more photography software hits the market every single year. With so many options, however, it’s harder than ever for photographers to answer an essential question:
What is the best photography software for me?
To cut through the noise, we’re breaking down the best photography editing software available in 2023. Along the way, we’ll point out some of the best photo processing software for professionals, the best photo editing software for beginners, the best free photo editing software, and more.
Adobe Lightroom Classic is among the best photo processing software available for professional photographers. It includes all the tools that a pro needs, intuitively organized in an easy-to-use interface..
While Lightroom Classic is some of the best photography editing software out there, it really begins to shine when used for image management and organization.
Lightroom allows users to import and catalog entire collections of photos. You can tag them for easy reference at your convenience. If you prefer editing with uncompressed RAW file formats, this photography software is equipped to handle your RAW workflow every step of the way. It’s cloud-based support empowers you to manage your images from any device.
As part of the Adobe Creative Cloud, Lightroom Classic enjoys unparalleled third-party support in the form of plug-ins and app integrations. From user-made presets to digital gallery tools, Lightroom amplifies the power of its own photo processing software through innovations from its community.
Adobe Lightroom Classic is available on its own or as part of several Adobe Creative Cloud packages. Lightroom Classic photography software is only available by subscription, with prices starting at $9.99/month.
As far as the best photography editing software goes, it’s hard to beat Adobe Photoshop. Photoshop is the reigning champ of professional-grade image manipulation. No other photography software can match Photoshop’s proven track-record of power, versatility, and reliability.
The size and scope of Photoshop’s toolbox is simply staggering. From layer support to complex masking and beyond, Photoshop can meet every challenge you would ever need to throw at your photography software. As well as a few thousand that will never cross your mind.
Like Lightroom Classic, Adobe Photoshop enjoys an enormous amount of third-party support and integration. The ability to customize its already expansive toolset makes Photoshop not only the best photography editing software available but also the best software for artists working in nearly any visual medium.
Adobe Photoshop is available individually or as part of an Adobe Creative Cloud package starting at $9.99/month. Adobe’s Photography Plan allows customers to pair Photoshop with Lightroom, combining the best photography editing software with the best photo management tools for one price.
If Adobe Photoshop is the best photography editing software for professionals, Adobe Photoshop Elements is a serious contender for best photo editing software for beginners.
Photoshop Elements is a drastically simplified version of Photoshop. It pares the iconic photography software down to its essential tools, highlighting speed and ease over depth and versatility.
In a way, that’s exactly what makes Photoshop Elements some of the best photo editing software for beginners. It simultaneously provides an accessible image editing tool and a user-friendly introduction to the most powerful photography software on the planet.
Unlike its bigger brother, Photoshop Elements is available without an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. You can purchase Adobe Photoshop Elements for a one-time price of $99.99.
Capture One Pro is the perfect photography software for pros working with high volumes of high-quality images. Its combination of RAW processing and editing functionality makes it world-class in professional workflow management.
If you’re booking one of the best photo studios in Los Angeles or New York City for your next shoot, Capture One Pro can guarantee you get the most bang for your buck. Support for tethered shooting and automatic file organization make this photography software robust in dealing with the stream of images produced by a studio session.
The downsides of Capture One Pro are that it will never appear on a list of the best free photo editing software or the best photo editing software for beginners. Explicitly aimed at professional photographers; Capture One Pro’s interface and tools may seem intimidating to new users, as will its price tag.
You can purchase Capture One Pro outright for $299.00 or buy into a subscription plan at a price of $24.00/month.
Serif Affinity Photo is a fresh alternative to Adobe Photoshop. Better still, Affinity is budget-friendly and subscription-free.
Just like the best photography editing software, Serif Affinity Photo is packed with professional-grade tools and features for image manipulation. It can manage RAW editing and boasts the same layers-based workflows that Photoshop users already know and love.
Affinity can even work with .PSD files, allowing users to port their work directly from Photoshop to this photography software alternative.
Serif Affinity Pro does fall short of some of Adobe Photoshop’s more advanced features (like neural filters). That’s a small price to pay compared to the smaller price you’ll pay for Affinity.
While it may not be the best free photo editing software, Affinity comes close for offering a professional level toolset. Serif Affinity Pro is available for a one-time price as low as $40.99.
Skylum Luminar Neo might be the best photo editing software for beginners. Luminar does boast professional-grade tools, but the software’s real appeal is its ease-of-use. Luminar’s highly accessible interface is perfect for users in search of quick, solid solutions without an overly technical workflow.
Luminar draws on the power of artificial intelligence to offer unique tools and create a competitive advantage. With innovative features like sky replacement and power-line removal, Luminar automates tasks that would have previously taken dozens of steps. The software even includes AI-driven tools to re-light, recompose, and retouch shots.
That’s just for starters. Skylum Luminar Neo is still expanding its suite of tools and features, creating an increasingly flexible photography software for amateur and professional photographers alike. Luminar can also be used as a plug-in for both Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, allowing you to experiment with the software as part of your pre-established workflow.
You can purchase Skylum Luminar Neo on a subscription basis or as a one-time purchase of $149.00.
DxO PhotoLab touts itself as “the most advanced, end-to-end, RAW photo editing software.” It’s the best photography editing software specifically for RAW image processing.
DxO’s photography software is a precision tool, built specifically for photographers who want to get the most out of their RAW files. However, DxO PhotoLab does sport a variety of powerful image editing features.
DxO’s lens correction tools, for example, are a real highlight. They do far more than generically sharpen or adjust your images. DxO PhotoLab can tailor compensation to your unique combination of lens and camera body. This brings unparalleled precision to your photo editing workflow.
Pricing for the best photography editing software for RAW processing begins at $139.00, with expanded services and supporting photography software for DxO PhotoLab available at additional cost.
ON1 Photo RAW is the best photography editing software for beginners interested in RAW image processing. ON1 Photo RAW strives to deliver top-tier image editing and management tools without the steep learning curve required by other software suites.
If you’re wondering “What is the best noise reduction software for photography?”, ON1 Photo RAW might be the right choice for you. The photography software’s advanced ON1 NoNoise AI feature offers some of the best de-noising currently available. ON1 NoNoise is one of several AI-driven tools making ON1 Photo RAW faster, easier, and more efficient than many of its competitors.
ON1 Photo RAW is a one-stop shop for RAW processing. This is a major strength, but it also means ON1’s all-in-one interface may take some getting used to for the uninitiated.
You can see for yourself at no cost by taking advantage of ON1’s 14-day free trial offer. After that, you’ll need to pay $99.99 to purchase a full license or buy into one of ON1’s subscription plans.
For over 25 years, GIMP has been the best free photo editing software available on the internet. The open-source alternative to Photoshop lacks advanced features and creature comforts. It nevertheless puts a potent toolset into its users’ hands at no cost.
Short for GNU Image Manipulation Program, GIMP foregrounds the utility of an open-source approach to photography software. It is explicitly designed to be expandable and customizable through the extensive use of plug-ins and other software integrations.
GIMP even includes an advanced scripting interface. This enables users to easily script and automate custom image manipulation procedures at will.
GIMP is unlikely to replace any of the photography software in a professional workflow. However, it cannot be ignored as some of the best free photo editing software of all time. You can download GIMP at no cost for any mainstream operating system.
What is the best photography software? Answering that question is a whole lot like finding the perfect photo studio. It’s all about pairing a photography software’s features with the unique needs of your own photography practice.
For more on the business of photography, check out our list of top resources for photographers.
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