Adobe Lightroom is a robust RAW processor with some superior enhancing instruments, however an equally essential characteristic is its capability to prepare massive collections of pictures, making it doable to search out that one particular image you took on a visit three years in the past that’s solely named “DSC_3245.”

Lightroom is now two functions: the newer Lightroom CC and the unique Lightroom Basic CC. The brand new Lightroom is an entire redesign targeted on multi-device enhancing that retains your RAW photos within the cloud, accessible in your pc, telephone, pill, and even by means of an online browser if you must work on a machine with out the app put in. It additionally incorporates synthetic intelligence to robotically acknowledge objects in a picture and set up them accordingly. Lightroom Basic, nonetheless, stays the selection of pros who want a robust desktop enhancing resolution, and it incorporates extra superior options concentrating on that group of customers. You will get entry to each variations by means of Adobe’s $10-per-month Artistic Cloud Pictures Plan, so we received’t spend lots of time differentiating the 2 right here, however you’ll be able to learn our Lightroom comparability for a full breakdown of the variations.

However whereas Lightroom could be the most recognizable identify within the RAW processing recreation, it’s not the one choice, nor essentially the most effective for each person. For one, the subscription requirement means you pay for this system each month quite than a one-time charge. For those who’d quite store round, there are fairly a number of Lightroom alternate options that provide options each related and distinctive. Listed here are the most effective ones.

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Finest Lightroom Different: Skylum Luminar



  • Photoshop-like layers
  • Distinctive A.I.-based instruments
  • $69 perpetual license


  • Extra organizing instruments, together with key phrases
  • Higher auto masking instruments
  • $10 a month, together with Photoshop

Whereas Skylum Luminar has lengthy been a well-liked RAW photograph editor, this system didn’t actually turn into a Lightroom various till it added digital asset administration in 2018. Now, this system contains each instruments for organizing photos and enhancing them, leaving the unique RAW information untouched.

Luminar is fast to import photos and set up them, together with instruments for culling like flags, stars and shade labels. The group device that’s lacking most is the choice so as to add key phrases, which makes pictures simpler to seek for later in the event you take the time to tag them initially.

Whereas Luminar has lots of the similar enhancing instruments as Lightroom, this system begins off with an even bigger give attention to presets and one-click edits, which may also help newbies get acquainted with the software program. Regardless of the push for presets, the superior enhancing instruments stay intact in the event you favor a hands-on method.

The truth is, in some methods, Luminar has extra instruments than Lightroom. When we final took Luminar for a take a look at drive — which was earlier than the cataloging characteristic was added — considered one of our favourite instruments was an choice so as to add solar rays, and when carried out proper, the impact was quite lifelike. Luminar additionally has an artificially clever digital polarizing filter, sky enhancer, and particulars enhancer. An upcoming model will introduce the choice to robotically swap out the sky.

Whereas Luminar has a handful of distinctive instruments — significantly ones developed with A.I. — there are some things that Lightroom nonetheless does higher. Lightroom’s vary masks make native edits easier and the therapeutic brush device additionally appeared to carry out sooner. Nonetheless, with the combination of the digital asset administration and A.I.-based instruments which you could’t actually discover anyplace else, Luminar is a superb Lightroom various. This system prices about seven months value of a Lightroom/Photoshop subscription, nevertheless it’s a one time buy. Luminar will also be used together with Lightroom, because of the brand new Flex plug-in.

Finest free Lightroom Different: RAWTherapee

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  • Mac, Home windows, and Linux
  • Free
  • No imports needed


  • Extra organizational instruments
  • Extra native adjustment instruments
  • $10 a month, bundled with Photoshop
  • Free accompanying cellular app

RawTherapee is to Lightroom what GIMP is to Photoshop. This system is an open supply (learn: free) RAW photograph editor with plenty of options which might be just like Lightroom’s. Like different RAW processors, RawTherapee is non-destructive, at all times maintaining your authentic RAW information intact.

Whereas RawTherapee will assist you to flick thru folders of RAW photos, it doesn’t provide the identical degree of group that Lightroom does. Opening a folder in RAWTherapee robotically provides the pictures to this system. Which means there’s no import course of, nevertheless it additionally means there are not any collections to prepare pictures. RawTherapee customers as an alternative use a folder construction to prepare information, whereas Lightroom customers can use each a folder construction or catalogs that don’t change the placement of the unique file. (Lightroom CC and Lightroom Basic differ in how they handle authentic information, with Lightroom CC maintaining all the things in a single location; the albums and folders you create throughout the app don’t correspond to precise folders in your pc’s file system.)

Whereas organizing information is vastly completely different, the open-source program has lots of the similar enhancing instruments as Lightroom. Primary choices like adjusting publicity and sharpening are included, in addition to extra superior instruments like curves and shade correction. Lots of Lightroom’s native adjustment instruments, such because the therapeutic brush device, are lacking, nonetheless.

RawTherapee is organized in workspaces based mostly on tabs — whereas Lightroom Basic additionally makes use of tabs, most photographers keep in simply the Library and Develop modules, whereas Lightroom CC does away with modules altogether in favor of device panels. With RawTherapee, shade changes are in a single tab, sharpening is in one other. And as with most much less well-liked Lightroom alternate options, RAWTherapee doesn’t have as many tutorials to assist be taught this system’s completely different options.

Finest all-in-one Lightroom various: On1 Photograph RAW

ON1 Photograph RAW

  • Photoshop-like layer enhancing
  • Focus stacking
  • Facial-recognition instruments for retouching
  • Perpetual license


  • Might be sooner
  • Cloud enhancing
  • Extra highly effective catalogs

Created by a small Oregon-based firm, ON1 Photograph RAW mixes a Lightroom-like digital asset administration system with Photoshop-like single-image enhancing instruments. This system incorporates many — although not all — of the identical instruments as Lightroom, but in addition contains a number of options that Adobe customers usually flip to Photoshop for, like layers. 

On1 Photograph RAW additionally doesn’t require importing photos — this system robotically acknowledges photos saved in your exhausting drive. Whereas that takes away the import step, it additionally takes away some flexibility, since Lightroom catalogs are simpler to again up because of Adobe’s cloud storage. (And the way a lot time this actually saves is debatable; you continue to want to repeat photos off the cardboard onto your pc, in any case, whereas importing straight right into a program removes that further step.)

Enhancing instruments between the 2 packages are related. Not like Seize One Professional (beneath), On1 RAW nonetheless contains HDR and panorama instruments. It even affords focus stacking, one thing for which Lightroom customers would want Photoshop. And whereas Photoshop is included within the Artistic Cloud Pictures Plan, sending a photograph to it from Lightroom will end in a redundant copy being made; the unique RAW remains to be there, however you’ll be able to’t redo any of your RAW changes on the model that was edited in Photoshop. On1 Photograph RAW additionally has a portrait enhancing tab that robotically acknowledges the completely different components of a face to simplify portrait retouching.

On1 Photograph RAW received’t exchange all of Photoshop’s options solely — Photoshop will also be used for graphic design, for starters — however encompasses among the hottest instruments that photographers use with out utilizing two separate packages. Many say that Lightroom is the sooner of the 2 packages, nonetheless.

On1 Photograph RAW additionally permits photographers to ditch the subscription, costing about $100 for a perpetual license, with reductions on future software program updates. For those who occur to love the subscription, the corporate additionally affords a $130 a yr subscription that features the software program in addition to studying supplies.

Finest skilled Lightroom various: Seize One Professional

Seize One Professional

  • Enhanced studio-focused options, equivalent to tethering
  • Layer-based enhancing
  • Extra customization choices


  • Might be simpler to be taught
  • HDR and panorama merging
  • Cheaper

Seize One Professional is photograph enhancing software program designed by the medium format digital camera firm Section One — and as you’d anticipate from a medium format digital camera firm, this RAW enhancing program brings plenty of high-end instruments. Many Seize One Professional customers say that the software program has extra instruments for studio photographers — tethering works higher, photos might be organized into classes and never simply catalogs, and annotations permit photographers to sketch notes proper on the photograph.

Characteristic-wise, Seize One Professional is similar to Lightroom — however could even have extra instruments than Adobe’s business normal. One key distinction is that Seize One Professional makes use of layers, which brings some Photoshop-like performance to it. Different variations are extra delicate — each use shade instruments, however Seize One Professional makes use of a shade wheel that tends to be extra versatile than Lightroom’s sliders. Many superior customers discover Seize One’s RAW processing to be barely higher than Adobe’s, at the very least for the preliminary start line. The characteristic listing isn’t solely skewed in favor of the Seize One software program, because it’s lacking Lightroom’s HDR and panorama instruments.

Interface-wise, Seize One Professional is simple to customise, although the additional controls and studio-focus could make the software program a bit trickier for inexperienced persons than one thing like Lightroom CC. Lightroom Basic has a number of extra group choices, nonetheless, whereas Seize One Professional can also be lacking the historical past choice that means that you can undo a couple of edit at a time.

Whereas most Lightroom alternate options attempt to attain new customers with a cheaper price, that’s not the case with Seize One Professional. The subscription prices twice as a lot — although not fairly that top when paid yearly — or might be purchased outright for $300. The variations designed only for Fujifilm or Sony cameras are cheaper, nonetheless, at $219 for a perpetual license (free Categorical variations are additionally accessible, which embrace a streamlined characteristic set). Perpetual licenses don’t embrace updates like a subscription does, however updates are discounted for customers with a earlier model.

Finest Lightroom various for native edits: DxO PhotoLab

the nik collection lives on with dxo labs update but at a cost 03 categories
DxO Labs

DxO PhotoLab

  • Extra native adjustment instruments
  • Auto changes for sooner begin
  • Nik Assortment instruments
  • Highly effective RAW processor


  • Extra strong group
  • HDR and panorama merging
  • Artistic Cloud and cellular app
  • Consists of Photoshop

Because of the comparatively new addition of Photograph Libraries, DxO PhotoLab can now be thought-about a full Lightroom various, quite than an add-on device. Like many rivals, photos aren’t imported right into a catalog, however DxO PhotoLab affords group instruments for the information discovered in your exhausting drive, in addition to instruments for looking and culling pictures.

The place DxO PhotoLab stands out is the RAW processing. DxO makes a speciality of picture processing, and not too long ago acquired the Nik assortment to take that even additional. DxO PhotoLab will robotically reads the information within the picture and applies changes on import, together with corrections based mostly on the lens and digital camera used, what the corporate calls Sensible Lighting, and de-noise algorithms. That gives a sooner begin for working with RAW information.

Photographers that use DxO PhotoLab are inclined to reward this system’s sharpness and denoise algorithms. One other spotlight of this system is native changes, utilizing the Nik Assortment U-Level know-how that in some instances can exchange complicated masking, although there’s nonetheless a brush device for masking as nicely.

DxO PhotoLab isn’t as organized as Adobe Lightroom, nonetheless, and misses out on some instruments like HDR mergers and panoramas. Lightroom can also be coupled with Photoshop, a cellular app, and cloud storage. DxO PhotoLab doesn’t require a subscription, nonetheless, and lists for $129 to $199.

Finest Lightroom and Photoshop various: Corel AfterShot Professional

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AfterShot Professional

  • Straightforward to make use of
  • Cheap
  • Light-weight
  • Quick imports


  • Extra organizational instruments
  • Extra enhancing instruments
  • Fashionable interface

For photographers on the lookout for a substitute for each Lightroom and Photoshop — in separate packages — Corel has two inexpensive choices. AfterShot Professional is a Lightroom various for organizing and enhancing RAW information. One of many program’s largest bragging factors is quick imports, although this system is barely importing the data — you must transfer your pictures off your SD card and onto the exhausting drive your self.

AfterShot Professional can deal with lots of the similar edits as Lightroom, together with shade changes, cropping and blemish retouching, in addition to batch edits. This system even contains some native adjustment instruments that use layers, which Lightroom doesn’t use. Lightroom has a number of extra instruments and tends to deal with edits like lens corrections and perspective distortion a bit higher.

AfterShot will even set up your pictures, although there’s nothing equal to Lightroom’s collections together with lacking choices like geotagging, so it’s not fairly as organized. Lightroom additionally feels a bit extra organized and trendy in simply the interface alone.

Whereas AfterShot Professional is lacking some options, it’s a reasonable, easy-to-learn program that additionally pairs nicely with PaintShop Professional, for customers on the lookout for alternate options to each Lightroom and Photoshop whereas maintaining the packages separate. Each packages collectively price $100, or $55 for simply AfterShot, although they have a tendency to see frequent gross sales as nicely. 

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