When you are looking for alternatives to Lightroom, you hope to find software with similar functions or even better. I think nobody wants a program with the same capabilities as the built-in Instagram editor.
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I have collected the best professional alternatives to Lightroom for photographers who don’t want to waste time on the month Adobe subscription. By the way, not all the programs on the list are free or cheaper than Lightroom, but all of them have similar or even better features.
Capture One Pro is a powerful photo editor developed by the Phase One company, which specializes in producing professional photography equipment. This is the most popular and professional alternative to Lightroom you can find on the market.
This program combines the capabilities of Lightroom and Photoshop without copying them. Capture One 12 features powerful layer and mask tools like Photoshop.
Many photographers assert that Capture One allows getting more accurate colors in RAW files than Lightroom. However, not everyone agrees with this statement.
One of the most distinguishing features of Capture One is the support for tethered shooting that involves connecting your camera to a computer. Like in Lightroom, you can customize metadata templates, camera controls as well as apply various styles.
Capture One is not a very cheap alternative to Lightroom as it costs $299. However, it is the same sum users had to previously pay for Lightroom. You can also purchase a monthly subscription which is $19 per month.
There are also special Capture One’s versions for Sony and Fujifilm cameras which are cheaper. However, you will be able to work only with RAW files shot on Sony or Fujifilm. For example, if you decide to shoot on a Fujifilm camera, the Capture One license will cost $199.
If you don’t want to pay for photo editing software, there are still some legal ways to use Adobe Lightroom for free.
ON1 Photo RAW 2019 is the best Lightroom alternative especially considering its price. It combines the best Lightroom cataloging and organizational tools as well as quick RAW file editing and Photoshop layer tools. This allows you to create composites easier compared to Lightroom.
However, the program has a rather cluttered interface. Sometimes it is quite difficult to find important tools, which may disrupt your workflow.
Unlike Lightroom, there is no need to import photos to ON1. The program can work directly with the file system of your computer. Besides, it features quick access tools for working with regular photos (for example, landscapes).
Moreover, ON1 has the Portrait Tool that allows you to simplify the process of whitening eyes and teeth. Also, you can use panorama stitching and focus stacking functions.
However, such additional features and improvements slow down the program even while performing basic image editing.
RawTherapee is a RAW photo processing system with a wide variety of supported cameras. This is the best alternative to Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw with basic digital asset management features. The program has a steep learning curve, but it’s worth the effort.
As a RAW photo processor, RawTherapee includes quite comprehensive functions. It is possible to adjust various parameters and create a processing profile (preset) to facilitate your workflow.
Besides, you can import your images to an external photo editor to edit them later. RawTherapee has a professional interface. If you don’t like the default theme, you can adapt the interface to suit your taste and needs.
I’ve been using the program for several weeks and I can say that RawTherapee is an excellent tool to perform image editing of different levels.
If you want to learn more about this photo editor, check out the complete RawTherapee review.
DarkTable is another completely free, open-source software. It offers various tools for image cataloging and automatic batch picture editing.
The program can use GPU-acceleration. While performing resource-demanding tasks, DarkTable uses GPU power. The photo editor provides professional color management using sRGB, Adobe RGB, XYZ and linear RGB profiles.
Being one of the best alternatives to Lightroom, DarkTable offers detailed file management and decent image editing capabilities. Another distinctive feature of this program is that it supports RAW files from over 400 different cameras.
It also features tools that are not included in Lightroom CC, for example, split toning and curve adjustment. If you feel like you need more information about DarkTable, head over to this complete Darktable review.
Luminar is one of the most affordable alternatives to Lightroom. It features AI tools that detect the contents of your images and allow you to easily customize settings.
For example, you can replace the sky without changing the foreground. Luminar has the “Edit” mode, which resembles the Develop module in Lightroom. But unlike Lightroom, Luminar offers workspaces that hide or show certain controls, depending on what you need to edit.
The program features filter packs, powerful sharpening options, noise reduction and photo retouching tools similar to those you can use in Lightroom. It allows you to edit images individually or use layers. You can save particular changes as a preset to apply it to other images.
In 2017, DxO incorporated U-Point technology into Photolab. U-Point is an auto-masking feature that works at a local level. The user can click on an area (or select several areas) in the image and set the radius to apply the adjustments.
Since mask tools are improved, this kind of image editing technology can become very competitive on the market.
DxO probably has the most unusual tools that may require a little more time to understand how they work and what they do. For example, DxO Smart Lighting helps restore details in HDR images.
Being a powerful alternative to Lightroom, PhotoLab can provide the highest possible image quality even if the photo was taken with the ordinary digital camera. Its local adjustment tools make it an excellent photo editor and not just a raw image processor.
ACDSee Photo Studio Professional is the best Lightroom alternative for Windows which costs $99,99. It has all the main features of Adobe software as well as some additional functions.
The program offers excellent cataloging and organization tools as well as RAW workflow with support for more than 500 camera models. Also, there is the Liquify tool, which allows you to retouch photos by moving groups of pixels without changing them. To do this, you usually need to switch to Photoshop.
PhotoScape is a free photo editing software developed for Windows as well as iOS and Android mobile platforms. It allows you to edit images using standard tools as well as combine pictures and perform batch photo editing.
The functions are really impressive. Moreover, PhotoScape is rather easy to use. However, it has several drawbacks. It is impossible to work with several files simultaneously.
It is necessary to save and close the current file before you start to edit another photo. You also can’t perform advanced image editing such as blending multiple images. In addition, PhotoScape features a limited number of tools that allow you to alter an image at the pixel level.
Nevertheless, it will cope with basic picture editing tasks and even more. You can also try useful extra functions. It is possible to download PhotoScape completely for free and use it on Windows 98/Me/NT/2000/XP/Vista/10 and Mac.