Whether you want to build a website and need a free photo editor to create a consistent look for your brand, or work as a photographer or a graphic designer, the right photo editing tools can help you achieve your goals.
To ensure that your photography portfolio website highlights your skills in the best way, we have tested and curated a list of the top 15 best photo editing software. We will look at the key features of different tools and discuss aspects like cost, ease of use, and key features.
Quick Comparison of the Best Photo Editing Software
Understanding the main differences between various types of photo editing software and how they are priced helps you make an informed decision before you commit to one tool. Here is a quick comparison of the editing software that we will discuss in more detail below:
|Adobe Lightroom Classic
|Editing software with filters
|Best editing software for photographers
|Capture One Pro
|Photo editor specializing in color grading
|$428 (one-time purchase)
|CyberLink PhotoDirector 365
|AI-powered photo editor
|ASDSee Photo Studio Ultimate
|Photo editor with batch processing features
|$109.95 (one-time purchase)
|Corel PaintShop Pro
|Photo editor with a built-in graphic design tool
|RAW photo editor
|$139 (one-time purchase)
|Professional image editor
|$164.99 (one-time purchase)
|Skylum Luminar Neo
|Creative photo editing software
|$426 (one-time purchase)
|Movavi Photo Editor
|Simple photo editing software
|$69.95 (one-time purchase)
|Serif Affinity Designer
|Vector graphic design software
|$69.99 (one-time purchase)
|Open-source image enhancement software
|Online photo editing app
|ON1 Photo RAW
|Photo editor for RAW images
|$142.53 (one-time purchase)
|Best software for beginners
15 Best Photo Editing Software
Great photo editing software lets you edit raw files and create unique visual assets when making your photography website. These tools should make editing images a simple and intuitive process, saving you time and effort.
These top 15 user-friendly photo editors include affordable image editing tools and photo manipulation software for more advanced users. When paired with an effective website builder for photographers, these tools can significantly elevate your online portfolio.
1. Adobe Lightroom Classic
Adobe Lightroom Classic Stats
- Rating: 4.5/5
- Top features: comprehensive photo editing and cataloging
- Price: subscriptions starting at $9.99/month
- Best for: portfolio updates and photo management for bloggers and travel photographers
Adobe Lightroom Classic is a popular choice for photo enthusiasts and professionals alike who need a reliable, workflow-oriented solution. Lightroom Classic has both robust editing tools and an efficient digital asset management system. Its user-friendly interface allows photographers to experiment without altering original images.
The editing tools of Adobe Lightroom have been designed for both global adjustments, such as exposure, contrast, and color balance, as well as local adjustments, like gradient filters, brush tools, and spot correction. The color grading suite of this photo editing software allows for precise color manipulation across highlights, mid-tones, and shadows. You also have detailed control over sharpening and noise reduction.
The platform supports lens-based corrections and has a range of presets for quick styling. Adobe Lightroom also caters to batch processing and image organization, making it a go-to for photographers who manage large collections of photos.
One potential drawback of this photo editing software is its subscription model – there is no one-time purchase option.
- Advanced raw file editing
- Extensive photo library management
- Presets and batch editing capabilities
- Live shooting support
- Compatible with Photoshop and Adobe Creative Cloud
2. Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Photoshop Stats
- Rating: 4.8/5
- Top features: layer-based, intricate image editing
- Price: subscriptions starting at $22.99/month
- Best for: professional portfolios and complex landing pages
Adobe Photoshop is known for its intricate image manipulation capabilities. This photo editing software’s strength lies in detailed layer editing, making it indispensable for most professionals and hobbyists in graphic design and photography.
Layer editing allows you to stack, manipulate, and blend different pieces of an image independently of each other. This functionality provides the flexibility to adjust elements, apply effects, or make changes to one part of the image without affecting the whole. It’s a fundamental feature for complex compositions, retouching, and detailed graphic design tasks. This results in a non-destructive workflow, enabling you to fine-tune or reverse your edits at any time.
Photoshop is widely recognized as one of the best photo editing software for anyone interested in photography and photo editing. However, the complexity of Photoshop might overwhelm beginners, and its subscription model can be a con if you prefer a one-time purchase.
- Precision layer editing
- 3D design tools
- Comprehensive brush and texture libraries
- Intelligent retouching with content-aware fill
- Extensive plugin and extension support
3. Capture One Pro
Capture One Pro Stats
- Rating: 4.7/5
- Top features: high-end image quality and color grading
- Price: free trial, one-time purchase of $428/license, subscription options also available
- Best for: color-critical work for high-fashion photographers’ online portfolios
Capture One Pro is highly regarded among professional photographers for its exceptional image quality, precise color grading, and reliable tethered shooting capabilities. As its interface is highly customizable, you can tailor the workspace to their specific workflow needs.
This photo editing software excels in detailed image adjustments and color accuracy, making it a favorite for studio photographers and anyone who needs full control over their images. Additionally, its support for a wide range of camera profiles and lenses ensures a seamless editing process from start to finish.
Capture One Pro’s professional-grade features are highly sought after, but the cost and steep learning curve may be challenging for new users. The tool’s one-time purchase option is a significant benefit to people who prefer to avoid subscriptions, but the initial investment is considerable.
- Superior raw image conversion
- Advanced color grading tools
- Tethered shooting capabilities
- Customizable interface and workflows
- Supports a wide range of camera profiles and lenses
4. CyberLink PhotoDirector 365
CyberLink PhotoDirector 365 Stats
- Rating: 4.5/5
- Top features: AI-powered photo editing and multimedia project support
- Price: subscriptions starting at $54.99/year, one-time purchase options also available
- Best for: social media managers and influencers creating images for promotional websites and social media landing pages
CyberLink PhotoDirector 365 offers a unique blend of photo editing and video production tools. The tool simplifies complex editing tasks with automated tools, making the platform accessible for beginners and time-saving for professionals.
This photo editing software is designed for creatives who want to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) for easy photo enhancement. The platform uses AI to detect and analyze elements within images, enabling features like automatic object detection and removal, facial recognition, and style transfer.
These AI tools also facilitate advanced photo management by recognizing patterns and subjects, such as sorting and tagging. The software’s AI-powered sky replacement and body shaping tools also allow users to make dramatic alterations fast. These features streamline workflows, significantly reducing the time and effort required for complex edits.
CyberLink PhotoDirector’s diverse range of features makes it a versatile choice, though the annual subscription model may not appeal to everyone.
- AI-powered editing tools
- Video-to-photo and photo-to-video features
- 360-degree photo editing
- Layer editing with blending modes
- Content-aware object removal
5. ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate
ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate Stats
- Rating: 4.4/5
- Top features: comprehensive photo management and editing on Windows
- Price: one-time purchase of $109.95/license, subscription options also available
- Best for: event and wedding photographers managing large photo sets
ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate is tailored for Windows users who seek a photo management and editing platform. This tool is known for its organizational prowess and quick editing capabilities.
The photo management features of this photo editing software are comprehensive. Advanced features such as hierarchical tagging, categories, and ratings help efficiently sort and retrieve images. The platform’s robust search functionality, combined with the ability to create smart collections based on metadata, streamlines the workflow for photographers with extensive image libraries.
Users can also use the Map view for geotagging and the catalog files directly from the camera. These management features are particularly beneficial for photographers who need to handle large volumes of images while maintaining an effective organizational system.
This software is a good choice for anyone who manages large libraries of images. However, Mac devices do not support ACDSee Photo Studio.
- Advanced asset management with face detection
- Non-destructive layered editing
- Quick RAW image processing
- Extensive digital asset management
- Customizable batch processing
6. Corel PaintShop Pro
Corel PaintShop Pro Stats
- Rating: 4.3/5
- Top features: extensive plugin support, user-friendly interface
- Price: free trial, one-time purchase starting at 69.99€/license
- Best for: small business owners and hobbyists with eCommerce sites and promotional landing pages
Corel PaintShop Pro is a cost-effective alternative to some of the more expensive photo editing software. This platform balances comprehensive editing capabilities with an intuitive user interface, catering to both beginners and intermediate users. The one-time purchase model is particularly attractive to users who prefer to avoid ongoing fees.
This photo editing software is regularly updated with new features and enhancements, adding value to the tool over time. However, some users may require additional plugins for niche editing tasks, as Corel PaintShop Pro’s native toolset may not cover all the features found in some high-tier editing environments.
While this tool offers a wide range of features at an affordable price, some professional editors may find it lacks certain features tools like Adobe Photoshop has.
- Comprehensive toolset for editing images
- AI-powered features for quick enhancements
- Graphic design capabilities
- User-friendly interface for beginners
- Extensive brush library for creative work
7. DxO PhotoLab
DxO PhotoLab Stats
- Rating: 4.6/5
- Top features: optical corrections and RAW processing
- Price: one-time purchase starting at $139/license
- Best for: nature and landscape photographers with high-resolution website galleries
DxO PhotoLab specializes in optical corrections and RAW processing, focusing particularly on lens and camera calibration. These refer to the software’s ability to automatically apply correction profiles that are specifically designed for the lens and camera used to take a photo. DxO PhotoLab’s lens and camera profiles correct optical imperfections such as distortion, chromatic aberrations, and vignetting.
This image editing software also offers a RAW processing engine that maintains high image quality, complemented by an efficient noise reduction technology. This means that the tool can preserve detail while removing the grainy appearance of noise, especially in high-ISO images. The photos retain clarity and texture, a crucial factor for professional-quality results in RAW processing.
The editing interface is designed to be customizable to fit various workflow preferences. The software is priced at a premium, reflecting its specialized capabilities, which may not be attainable or necessary for all users.
- Accurate lens correction profiles
- Advanced noise reduction for clear images
- Selective editing tools for precision
- Support for numerous camera profiles
8. Affinity Photo
Affinity Photo Stats
- Rating: 4.7/5
- Top features: professional-level photo editing
- Price: one-time purchase starting at $164.99/license, subscription options also available
- Best for: freelancers and agencies requiring a versatile tool for different client websites
Affinity Photo provides a comprehensive set of editing tools at a competitive price point.
This photo editing software works across different operating systems with consistent performance and feature availability. This ensures that users can switch between devices running on various operating systems, like Windows, macOS, and iOS, without losing functionality or having to adapt to different interfaces or toolsets.
The software also offers advanced features for layer management and RAW editing.
However, users may find its support limited compared to other tools.
- Real-time effects and adjustments
- Layer management for complex edits
- HDR merge and panorama stitching
- Compatibility with Windows, macOS, and iPad
9. Skylum Luminar Neo
Skylum Luminar Neo Stats
- Rating: 4.4/5
- Top features: creative editing with AI assistance
- Price: one-time purchase starting at $426/license, subscription options also available
- Best for: professionals and bloggers who want to add unique imagery to their personal or business websites
Luminar Neo stands out for its AI-powered tools that simplify tasks like sky replacement and skin retouching, making sophisticated editing accessible to all skill levels. The software’s emphasis on intuitive design encourages users to explore and apply complex effects intuitively.
With this photo editing software, both novices and seasoned editors can achieve professional-looking results without deep technical expertise. In short, this powerful image editing tool democratizes photo editing, enabling more individuals to produce visually striking images with minimal effort.
- AI-driven sky replacement and portrait tools
- Library of professional presets
- Adaptive user interface
- Compatibility with plugins for additional functionality
10. Movavi Photo Editor
Movavi Photo Editor Stats
- Rating: 4.2/5
- Top features: simple and efficient photo editing
- Price: one-time purchase starting at $69.95/license, subscription options also available
- Best for: beginners working on personal blogs or small business sites
Movavi Photo Editor appeals to people who seek quick fixes and enhancements for their photos with a minimal learning curve. It’s particularly effective for users who want to edit images swiftly without delving into the complexities of more advanced software.
This photo editor offers a practical balance of user-friendly functionality and essential editing features, making it an attractive option for beginners or users with straightforward editing needs. Its tool suite can handle the typical adjustments most photographs require, ensuring a quality result without a significant learning curve.
- Intuitive editing interface
- Quick photo enhancements with one-click tools
- Basic object removal capabilities
- Creative filters for artistic expression
11. Serif Affinity Designer
Serif Affinity Designer Stats
- Rating: 4.6/5
- Top features: vector graphic design with photo editing features
- Price: one-time purchase of $69.99/license
- Best for: designers creating vector-based designs for web graphics
Serif Affinity Designer is photo editing software which combines vector graphic design and photo editing in a single platform. The tool’s photo editing capabilities are integrated within a vector environment, offering precision and flexibility for design-oriented projects.
The persona-switching feature in Serif Affinity Designer allows users to toggle between layout design and image editing. This approach is particularly useful for designers who create marketing materials or digital art. Users can edit images and craft graphics within the same tool, streamlining their creative workflow.
Affinity Designer’s emphasis on design may present a learning curve for pure photo editing enthusiasts. In addition, its one-off payment model is appealing to people who dislike subscriptions.
- Vector and raster design tools
- Advanced layer controls
- Dynamic on-screen controls for object adjustments
- Continuous export for real-time updates
- Persona-switching to move between workflows
12. GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program)
- Rating: 4.3/5
- Top features: advanced open-source photo editor
- Price: free
- Best for: startups and non-profits creating and maintaining cost-effective websites
GIMP is powerful and free photo editing software, ideal for more advanced users looking for an open-source platform. This is because this photo editor has a steeper learning curve and extensive customization options through plugins.
With GIMP’s advanced layer and mask controls, you can manage complex compositions, adjust transparency and transitions, and apply numerous effects to individual elements without affecting the entire image. These features cater to users who require granular control over their editing process, similar to what is offered by high-end paid software.
While GIMP is robust and cost-free, its interface and workflow can be daunting for beginners compared to more streamlined commercial tools.
- Customizable interface and toolsets
- Full control over layers and masks
- Advanced photo retouching capabilities
- Extensive plugin support for added functionality
- Supports various file formats, including PSD
- Rating: 4.2/5
- Top features: filter, effect, and template library&
- Price: free version with premium subscription options available
- Best for: fast online edits for bloggers and online retailers
Pixlr offers easily accessible free photo editing software for users needing quick photo edits or creative designs. It operates both as a web-based application and a desktop version, ensuring flexibility across devices.
This free photo editing software has various filters and effects available, enabling users to apply effects and enhance images with a few clicks. These features are particularly useful for creating visually appealing content quickly.
The platform also offers a selection of design templates that serve as a starting point for various projects, saving time and inspiring creativity. This makes Pixlr a practical choice for users who want to combine photo editing with graphic design without the complexity of more advanced software.
Note that Pixlr’s free version has certain feature limitations and ads.
- AI-powered tools for efficient editing
- Layer-based editing system
- Vast collection of filters and effects
- Design templates for various formats
- Mobile app for editing on the go
14. ON1 Photo RAW
ON1 Photo RAW Stats
- Rating: 4.5/5
- Top features: comprehensive RAW editing and effects
- Price: free trial, one-time purchase starting at $142.53/license, subscription options available
- Best for: photo editing for professional photographers’ websites
ON1 Photo RAW is an all-in-one photo organizer, editor, and effects app that excels in RAW processing. It’s designed for photographers who want powerful editing capabilities along with an extensive range of creative effects.
This photo editor has advanced AI-powered masking and selection tools that simplify complex editing tasks like object isolation and background replacement. These tools are precise, saving time for professionals who need to make targeted adjustments to raw files.
Users can also create custom presets and filters, allowing for a personalized touch and consistency across different projects. This feature enhances workflow efficiency and enables photographers to develop and apply their unique style.
ON1 Photo RAW offers a comprehensive suite of tools, but its interface and sheer number of features might be overwhelming for new users.
- Powerful RAW processing engine
- AI-powered masking and selection tools
- Non-destructive, layered editing workflow
- Custom presets and filters
- Mobile app for editing and syncing across devices
- Rating: 4.7/5
- Top features: easy design and photo editing for social media
- Price: free, premium subscription options available
- Best for: visual content creation for marketing, educational sites, and social media
Canva is a design-centric platform with user-friendly photo editing tools. It is best suited for creating visually appealing content for social media and digital marketing campaigns.
This photo editing tool is equipped with features that facilitate collaboration, allowing multiple users to work on a project simultaneously. This makes Canva an excellent tool for teams who need to create and edit designs together.
The platform also comes with a stock image gallery, helping users to find the perfect visuals without leaving the platform. Canva’s graphic design tools are most beneficial for content creators and businesses looking to streamline their design process and enhance their social media presence with high-quality visuals.
Canva’s focus on design over advanced photo editing means it may not be sufficient for users needing in-depth editing features. However, its free tier has a lot of user-friendly features, making it a good choice for novice users who need to edit photos for their website or social media.
- Drag-and-drop editor for ease of use
- Extensive template library for all types of content
- Basic photo editing tools for quick adjustments
- Collaboration features for team projects
- Large collection of stock images and design elements
Criteria for Choosing Photo Editing Software
Professional photo editors should be easy to use, have all the features you need for digital image editing, and support collaboration across multiple devices. Here are the key features you should look for in photo editing software:
The best photo editing software comes with a wide range of editing tools. These are essential for performing tasks such as cropping, resizing, color correction, and retouching.
The right software should cater to your photo editing skills, whether you’re a beginner or a professional photographer seeking advanced photo editing solutions.
Look for editing features that support both straightforward adjustments and complex tasks like layer editing, image manipulation, image optimization, and precise retouching tools.
A key aspect of professional photo editing software is its compatibility with various image formats, including JPEG, RAW, and PNG, among others.
Cross-platform support is equally important, ensuring that Windows, Mac, or even Linux users can operate the same software without limitations.
Also, take into account the hardware requirements necessary for the software to run smoothly. This is crucial for handling high-resolution raw files and complex editing tasks.
Establishing an efficient workflow is crucial for photo editing. The best software should enable you to enhance photos quickly and without unnecessary delays, even when dealing with large raw image files or multiple photos.
Features that contribute to workflow efficiency include batch editing capabilities, automation tools, and smart filters. An intuitive interface can also streamline the editing process, making the tool more accessible for users with varying levels of experience.
Price and Licensing Options
The best photo editing software for your needs must fit your editing needs and budget. Pricing structures vary, from free photo editors to paid photo editing software with advanced editing tools.
Subscription models or one-time purchases might be available, and some software offers tiered pricing plans to match different user needs. Look out for any discounts, free versions, or educational pricing that might make professional photo editing software more accessible.
Integration with Other Tools
Integration with other photo editing tools and platforms, such as Adobe Creative Cloud’s suite of applications, can vastly expand your editing capabilities.
The ability to easily transfer projects and share files across different software can save time and enhance creativity. Additionally, the availability of plugins and extensions can add powerful image editing tools to your arsenal, from advanced AI tools to niche graphic design options.
Whether you’re editing images for social media, a professional photography website, or as part of graphic design work, the right tool can significantly improve your workflow, creativity, and the overall quality of your work.
We have looked at the top 15 photo editing software for 2023, catering to a wide range of users, from beginners to advanced professionals. Each tool is designed to enhance your photo editing experience, whether you’re looking for basic touch-ups, intricate design work on RAW photos, or efficient workflow and online photo storage management.
For professionals, Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom remain top choices for their extensive features and intuitive interfaces. Beginners may find a free photo editor like GIMP, Pixlr, or Canva more approachable for basic photo editing.
Remember, the best photo editing software is one that not only fits your technical needs but also aligns with your budget.
Best Photo Editing Software FAQ
Find answers to the most common questions about top-rated photo editors below.
Which Photo Editing Software Is the Best?
The best photo editing software balances powerful image editing tools with usability. Professionals commonly favor Adobe Photoshop due to its extensive features, while more casual users find tools like Canva useful for simpler editing tasks.
What Is the Best Photo Editing Software for Beginners?
Free photo editing software like GIMP or Canva are great places for learning the basics of image editing, while paid tools like Adobe Photoshop Elements provide a guided experience with the opportunity to expand into more advanced features as skills develop.
Which Editing Software Is Best for Retouching and Portrait Editing?
When it comes to retouching and portrait editing, look for software that includes advanced AI tools and detailed manual editing tools. Adobe Photoshop is renowned for its precision and range of retouching tools.
What Are Some Affordable Alternatives to Expensive Photo Editing Software?
Free photo editing software like GIMP offers robust editing capabilities, while paid software such as Affinity Photo provides professional-grade features at a one-time cost. Online photo editing programs like Canva also provide basic editing tools and templates for users on a budget.