ACDSee | Supported File Formats
Press A while viewing a RAW file. Includes sample gallery.
ACDSee | Supported RAW Formats
CONS Initial raw conversion is slightly more detailed in some competing products Requires subscription. PROS Many powerful image-manipulation tools Strong face-tagging and geotagging capabilities Excellent image output options Powerful search Helpful guidance for advanced techniques.
PROS Simple, clear interface Syncs photos to cloud storage for access on other devices Light, color, and detail adjustments equal to Lightroom Classic\’s Powerful raw profiles and filters Strong community features. PROS Clear interface Best-in-class noise reduction Excellent autocorrection based on camera and lens characteristics Haze remover Geometry corrections Powerful local adjustments. PROS Photoshop-like features at a lower price Powerful effects and editing tools Extensive help and tutorials Good assortment of vector drawing tools Automatic noise removal.
CONS A lot of tools buried in menus Lens-profile-based image correction tools less effective than the competition Weak noise and chromatic aberration tools Taxing on our PC in testing. Whether you merely shoot with your smartphone or you\’re a professional photographer working in a studio, you need software to organize, optimize, and edit your digital photos.
Camera technology is improving at a tremendous rate: Today\’s smartphones are more powerful than the point-and-shoots of just a few years ago, and pro-level cameras have passed the megapixel mark. Photo editing software is keeping up with ever-more-powerful features. People who shoot with either a five-camera Galaxy S21 Ultra or an advanced digital SLR both care how their photos look.
To get the best results, you need to import the shots into your PC, organize them, pick the best ones, adjust them, and print or share them online. We\’ve included all levels of PC software here, and reading the linked reviews will make it clear which is for you. Nothing says that pros can\’t occasionally use an entry-level application or that a prosumer won\’t be running Photoshop, the most powerful image editor around.
The issue is that, in general, users at each of these levels will be more comfortable with the products intended for them. Note that, in the spec table below, it\’s not a case of \”more check marks means better. A product with everything checked doesn\’t necessarily have the best implementation of those features, and one with fewer checks still may be very capable.
Whether you even need the checked feature depends on your photo workflow. For example, DxO Photolab may not have face recognition, but it has the finest noise reduction in the land and some of the best camera- and lens-profile-based corrections.
If you\’re just starting to dip your toes into photo editing, your options are getting better all the time. The obvious places to get started are with operating systems\’ free, included applications, Apple Photos , Google Photos, and Microsoft Photos. These all include the basic light and color editing tools in simple interfaces. For more details on these options, check out the section below.
Worth particular mention if you\’re a more ambitious beginner is Adobe Lightroom, the non-Classic version. This includes the Discover community in which photographers and editors can share their entire process from raw image to final product.
It even lets you submit your photos for the community to try their hands at. For in-program editing tutorials, Photoshop Elements, with its many Guided Edits that show you how to create arresting effects, is an excellent option. And even the latest versions of Photoshop itself include plentiful help and learning content, though I recommend going through a basic online course for learning Photoshop.
If you just want the basics and don\’t have ambitions to do advanced editing, check out the free options in the next section. If you\’ve outgrown the stock photo editing apps on your phone, like those preinstalled with the camera or the effects included in Instagram, does that mean you have to pay a ton for high-end software? Absolutely not. Desktop operating systems typically include decent photo software at no extra cost. For example, the Microsoft Photos app included with Windows 10 and updated for Windows 11 may surprise some users with its capabilities.
In a touch-friendly interface, it offers a good level of image correction, auto-tagging, blemish removal, face recognition, and even raw camera file support. It can automatically create editable albums based on photos\’ dates and locations. Apple Photos does those things too, though its automatic albums aren\’t as editable.
With both, you can search based on detected object types, like \”tree\” or \”cat\” in the application. Apple Photos also can integrate with plug-ins like the excellent Perfectly Clear. Ubuntu Linux users are also covered when it comes to free included photo software. They get the capable-enough Shotwell app. It\’s available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, offers a ton of Photoshop-style plugins and editing capabilities but very little in the way of creature comforts or usability.
Other lightweight, low-cost options include Polarr and Pixlr. In this list of the best photo-editing software, we\’ve only included installable computer software. That said, entry-level photographers may be adequately served by online photo-editing options.
These web apps are mostly free, and they\’re often tied to online photo storage and sharing services. Flickr with its integrated photo editor and Google Photos are the biggest names here, and both can spiff up your uploaded pictures and do a lot to help you organize them. These free options are good but lack many tools found in paid photo-editing software.
But some paid apps are now releasing web versions. The latest version of Lightroom, for example, has a web app with a good deal of photo-editing capabilities included. And Adobe announced a basic web version of its flagship Photoshop app, currently in beta. Most of the products in this list are suited for enthusiast photographers and prosumers, which includes people who genuinely love working with digital photographs. The apps are not free, and they require a few hundred megabytes of your disk space.
Such apps offer nondestructive editing, meaning the original photo files aren\’t touched. Instead, they maintain a database of edits that you apply and that appear in photos you export from the application.
These programs also offer strong organization tools, including keyword tagging, color-coding, geo-tagging with maps, and in some cases face recognition to organize photos by people that appear in them.
At the back end of workflow is output. Capable software like Lightroom Classic offers powerful printing options such as soft-proofing , which shows you whether the printer you use can produce the colors in your photo. Strangely, the new version of Lightroom does not offer built-in local printing, though the latest update lets you send images to a photo printing service. Lightroom Classic can directly publish photos on sites like Flickr and SmugMug.
In fact, all good software at this level offers strong printing and sharing, and some, like ACDSee and Lightroom, include their own online photo hosting to present a portfolio of your work. The programs at the enthusiast level and the professional level can import and edit raw files from your digital camera. These are files that include every bit of data from the camera\’s image sensor.
Each camera manufacturer uses its own format and file extension for these. Raw here means what it sounds like: a file with the raw sensor data. It\’s not an acronym or file extension. Working with raw files provides some big advantages when it comes to correcting often termed adjusting photos.
Since the photo you see on screen is just one interpretation of what\’s in the raw file, the software can dig into that data to recover more detail in a bright sky, or it can fully fix an improperly rendered white balance.
If you set your camera to shoot with JPGs, you\’re losing those capabilities. Enthusiasts want to do more than just import, organize, and render their photos.
They want to do fun stuff, too! Editors\’ Choice winner Adobe Photoshop Elements includes Guided Edits, which make special effects like motion blur or color splash where only one color shows on an otherwise black-and-white photo a simple step-by-step process. Topaz Studio offers a slew of fun photo effects, but it\’s completely lacking in workflow features.
Content-aware tools let you move objects around while maintaining a consistent background. You can also remove objects entirely. Say you want to remove a couple of strangers from a serene beach scene and have the app fill in the background. These edits don\’t involve simple filters like you get in Instagram. Rather, they produce highly customized, one-off images. Another good example is CyberLink PhotoDirector\’s Multiple Exposure effect, which lets you create an image with ten versions of Johnny jumping that curb on his skateboard, for example.
Most of these products can produce HDR effects and panoramas after you feed them multiple shots, and local edit brushes let you paint adjustments onto only specific areas of an image.
Affinity Photo has those features, but its interface isn\’t the most intuitive. Zoner Photo Studio X combines Lightroom and Photoshop features in a lower-priced subscription, but it\’s just not up to the level of the Adobe software.
Some of the products in this group have started adding what\’s sometimes termed AI style transfer —where the style of Picasso, Japanese watercolor, or another art mode is applied to the photo. The effect became a craze with the Prisma app several years ago, and it can still impress. At the very top end of the image editing pyramid is Photoshop, which has no real rival. Its layered editing, drawing, text tools, filters, selection capabilities, plug-in support, and color tools make it the industry standard.
Adobe recently removed its 3D editing tools because of the changing graphics hardware landscape; you can find 3D functionality in the company\’s new 3D Substance line of applications. The company continues to add unique, state-of-the art features.
Of course, pros need more than this one application, and many use workflow programs like Lightroom, AfterShot Pro, or Photo Mechanic for workflow functions like importing and organization. In addition to its workflow prowess, Lightroom offers mobile photo apps so that photographers on the run can get some work done before they even get back to their PC. Photoshop recently got an iPad app, as well, but that\’s not yet capable of raw file editing.
Those who need tethered shooting—controlling the camera in the software from the computer while it\’s attached—may want Capture One, which offers a lot of tools for that along with its top-notch raw-file conversion. Photoshop offers the most image editing capabilities, though it doesn\’t always make producing those effects as simple, and it doesn\’t offer a nondestructive workflow, as Lightroom and some of the other products do.
Of course, users with less-intensive needs can get all the Photoshop-type features they need from other programs in this roundup, such as Corel PaintShop Pro. DxO PureRAW is another tool pros may want in their kit, because of its excellent lens-profile based corrections and unmatched DeepPrime noise reduction.
Skylum Luminar, too, offers unique AI-powered features like automatic powerline removal, which can instantly improve many a landscape or cityscape.
It also has unique depth-based lighting options You can use either standalone or as a Photoshop plugin. For example, they let you select everything in a photo within a precise color range and refine the selection of difficult content such as a model\’s hair or trees on the horizon.