What picture editing software is the best

Picture editing software is what you need for making your pictures shine. But it’s not as simple as choosing the most expensive package. Whether you are a professional photographer or just a beginner who wants to get some simple photo editing done, there are certain aspects you must consider before making a purchase.

Every photographer loves editing their photos, but we’re all bound to have different opinions as to what the best photo editing software is. We’re all looking for something very different from our software, it’s not a surprise that so many of us disagree with each other when it comes down to rating programs like Photoshop. However, I believe that there is one photo editing software program that reigns supreme over the others – and it’s free!

The best picture editing software is Adobe Photoshop.

This software allows you to edit your pictures in many different ways, including changing the color of a specific area and adding effects such as raindrops or lighting. It also lets you add text to your photos and draw on them with your mouse.

Adobe Photoshop has been around for a long time and has many different features that make it a great choice for editing pictures. You can use this program to create art, design logos or make greeting cards. You can also use it to create digital collages and other projects that require multiple images.

There are other programs like Adobe Photoshop available but none of them offer all of these features so they cannot compete with it when it comes to picture editing software options.

The best picture editing software is Adobe Photoshop.

Adobe Photoshop has been the industry standard for over 20 years, and it’s used by professional photographers and graphic designers all over the world. It’s great for editing photos as well as creating full-on graphics and illustrations. Plus, it’s got tons of features that make it easy to customize your images and make them look exactly how you want them to look.

The only downside is that Photoshop can be really expensive, but you can get a 60-day free trial to try it out before you buy!

1. Adobe Photography Plan

The Adobe Photography Plan offers industry standard pro tools at a really affordable price

SPECIFICATIONS

PC: Intel Core 2 or AMD Athlon 64 processor 2 GHz, 2GB RAM (8GB recommended), Windows 7 to 10

Mac: Multicore Intel 64-bit, 2GB RAM (8GB recommended), OS X 10.11 or later

Hard drive: 4GB

Minimum screen resolution: 1024×768 pixels

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

Photography plan (20GB)(opens in new tab)$9.99/mth(opens in new tab)

Lightroom CC plan (1TB)(opens in new tab)$9.99/mth(opens in new tab)

Photography plan (1TB)(opens in new tab)$19.99/mth(opens in new tab)

VISIT SITE(opens in new tab)at Adobe(opens in new tab)

REASONS TO BUY

+

Photoshop and Lightroom included+

Excellent value for money+

Creative Cloud ecosystem

REASONS TO AVOID

Subscription only-

1TB cloud storage needed for Lightroom

Despite its immense power and constant steady improvements, Photoshop is slick and straightforward to use. Its support for selections, masks and layers is unmatched, making it the tool of choice for complex composite images. Despite its reputation for complexity, Photoshop actually offers a very clean, slick interface. Lightroom, meanwhile, takes care of all your image organizing, non-destructive editing, raw processing and preset effects. Lightroom Classic is the best option for regular ‘desktop’ editing, and while Lightroom offers cloud-based storage to make all your images available everywhere, on any device, it needs 1TB cloud storage, which doubles the cost of the Photography Plan. The latest updates in Lightroom use AI to ‘intelligently’ select subjects and skies in your images, and it’s incredibly effective. Ultimately, while there is still a lot of resistance to Adobe’s subscription model, it’s being adopted by more and more rivals, and it is an extremely cost-effective route into software that was once prohibitively expensive.

Read more: Adobe Photoshop CC review(opens in new tab) | Adobe Lightroom Classic review(opens in new tab) | Adobe Lightroom review(opens in new tab)

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Best photo editing software: Capture One 22
(Image credit: Rod Lawton)

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2. Capture One 22

It’s the most expensive program here, but this Lightroom rival is worth it for quality-focused professionals

SPECIFICATIONS

PC: 2-core CPU or better, 8GB RAM, Windows 7 SP1 to 10

Mac: 2-core CPU or better, 8GB RAM, OS X 10.12.6 or later

Hard drive: 10GB

Minimum screen resolution: 1200×800 pixels

REASONS TO BUY

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Excellent raw processing+

Layers based adjustments+

Great tethering tools+

Now with HDR and pano merge

REASONS TO AVOID

Expensive

Capture One looks expensive compared to Lightroom, but its strength lies in the quality of its raw processing and editing tools, the power of its layer-based local adjustments and its appeal for professional workflows. It works both as tethered capture and editing tool for studio photographers with a ‘sessions’ based workflow and as a Lightroom-style image cataloguing, searching and non-destructive editing tool. Capture One 2022 brings a new HDR merge feature – it works only on raw files but is extremely effective and natural looking – and a panorama merge feature too. Capture One works in a single window rather than in Lightroom-style ‘modules’ and has a highly customizable set of ‘tool tabs’. One of the key differences is its layers-based local adjustment system which makes it much easier to see and edit your changes to your work, and this now includes ‘parametric’ linear and radial gradient masks which you can edit later. Capture One’s raw processing is typically smoother and sharper than Adobe’s too. The latest update brings support for Capture One’s upcoming iPad edition.

Best photo editing software: Affinity Photo 1.9
(Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)

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3. Affinity Photo 1.10

For sheer value, you just can’t beat Affinity Photo. It has all the power of Photoshop but at a rock-bottom, no-strings price

SPECIFICATIONS

PC: Processor not quoted, 2GB RAM (4GB recommended), Windows 7 SP1 to 10

Mac: 64-bit Core Duo 2 or better, 2GB RAM, OS X 10.9 or later

Hard drive: 670MB

Minimum screen resolution: 1280×768 pixels

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

View at Serif Europe US(opens in new tab)

View at Microsoft US(opens in new tab)

REASONS TO BUY

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Powerful tools+

Cheap to buy

REASONS TO AVOID

No cataloguing tools-

Quite technical

We complain that there’s too much Photoshop doesn’t do, but the fact is for many photographers this kind of old-school image-editor is exactly what they need. And Affinity Photo gives you exactly the same thing, but subscription-free, via a single extra-low payment. Affinity Photo is sold at a budget price point, but it has the tools and the features and the power to compete with Photoshop head-on. It focuses particularly heavily on the retouching market, with cloning, healing and retouching tools, an Inpainting tool for automatic object removal and a dedicated Liquify persona (workspace) for localized image distortion effects. Affinity Photo is an extremely powerful photo editor with more tools and features than there’s space to list here, from focus stacking and HDR tonemapping to high-end frequency separation. Now up to version 1.10, Affinity Photo has been steadily improved and evolved since its launch, but Affinity has yet to charge for any update.

Read more: Affinity Photo 1.8 review(opens in new tab)

Best photo editing software: DxO PhotoLab 5

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4. DxO PhotoLab 5

DxO PhotoLab 5 is not that cheap, especially the more desirable Elite edition, but its raw processing is quite superb

SPECIFICATIONS

PC: Intel Core 2 or AMD Athlon 64 X2, 4GB RAM (8GB recommended), Windows 7 SP1 to 10

Mac: Intel Core i5 or higher, 4GB RAM (6GB recommended), OS X 10.12 or later

Hard drive: 4GB

Minimum screen resolution: Not quoted

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

DxO PhotoLab 5 – Essential Edition(opens in new tab)$139(opens in new tab)

DxO PhotoLab 5 – ELITE Edition(opens in new tab)$219(opens in new tab)

VISIT SITE(opens in new tab)at DxO US(opens in new tab)

REASONS TO BUY

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Superb raw processing+

Excellent lens corrections+

Now supports X-Trans files

REASONS TO AVOID

PhotoLibrary still quite primitive-

Elite version quite expensive

PhotoLab’s real strength is its superb raw processing, amazingly effective DeepPRIME denoise tool (Elite edition only), excellent local image adjustments and highly effective (and automatic) lens corrections. The image quality produced by PhotoLab is second to none. On the downside, you’ll need the more expensive Elite edition to get DxO’s DeepPRIME and ClearView Plus features, and if you want to apply perspective corrections (once built into Optics Pro) you’ll need the DxO ViewPoint add-on too. DxO has also added PureRAW(opens in new tab) to its software suite – a raw batch processing tool that turns regular raw files into ‘Linear DNGs’. Other programs still treat these as raw files with all the tonal and color headroom you would expect, but they have DxO’s superior demosaicing, noise reduction and lens corrections pre-applied. PhotoLab 5 at last brings compatibility with Fujifilm X-Trans files, plus a new selection/masking tool and more. It’s neither cheap nor especially novice-friendly, but PhotoLab 5’s results from raw files are amongst the best, if not THE best.

Read: DxO PhotoLab 5 review(opens in new tab)

Best photo editing software: DxO Nik Collection
(Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)

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5. DxO Nik Collection 4

We rate this as the best plug-in suite of all time, with amazing tools, controls and effects

SPECIFICATIONS

PC: Intel Core 2 or AMD Athlon 64 X2, 4GB RAM (8GB recommended), Windows 7 64-bit SP1 to 10

Mac: Intel Core i5 or higher, 4GB RAM (8GB recommended), OS X 10.12 or later

Hard drive: 4GB

Minimum screen resolution: Not quoted

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

View at DxO US(opens in new tab)

REASONS TO BUY

+

The world’s best plug-in suite+

New Perspective Efex plug-in+

New non-destructive workflow

REASONS TO AVOID

Ideally needs a ‘host’ program

Nik Collection 4 consists of eight separate plug-ins which can also be used as standalone programs. Analog Efex Pro is brilliant at analog/darkroom effects, while Color Efex Pro is a hugely powerful suite of filters for individual use or combined into ‘recipes’. Silver Efex Pro remains the best digital black and white plug-in ever and is updated in this version with a fresh, modern interface, a new ClearView option and more powerful selective control points. Viveza gets the same treatment and is elevated from a relatively simple local adjustment tool into a much more powerful plug-in. HDR Efex Pro is pretty handy as an HDR merging/effects tool, and while Sharpener Pro and Dfine feel pretty dated now, they can still be useful for output sharpening and noise reduction respectively. And then there’s Perspective Efex, DxO’s most recent addition, which offers powerful lens and perspective corrections, tilt-shift effects and advanced wide-angle distortion correction. You can use the Nik Collection 4 plug-ins with Photoshop, Lightroom and from within DxO PhotoLab – or use them as external editors with other programs like Capture One.

Read more: DxO Nik Collection 4 review(opens in new tab)

Best photo editing software: ON1 Photo RAW 2022
(Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)

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6. ON1 Photo RAW 2022

The closest you’ll get to a single program. ON1 Photo RAW 2022 isn’t just a great program, it’s great value

SPECIFICATIONS

PC: Intel Core 2 Duo, Xeon, or better, 4GB RAM (16GB recommended), Windows 7 to 10

Mac: Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB RAM (16GB recommended), OS X 10.12 or later

Hard drive: 1.5GB

Minimum screen resolution: 1280×720 pixels

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

View at Amazon(opens in new tab)

REASONS TO BUY

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Great range of effects+

Support for layers+

Non-destructive editing

REASONS TO AVOID

Some duplication of Develop/Effects tools-

Browsing vs catalogs is confusing

ON1 Photo RAW is perhaps the single most complete solution of all the programs here, and the 2022 version is the best yet, with new Sky Replacement AI, the integration of ON1 NoNoise AI and, with the latest update, the integration of ON1 ReSize AI, previously sold separately. There’s also an optional ON1 subscription service for Adobe style image sharing and synchronizing with mobile devices. ON1 Photo RAW 2022 has a built-in hybrid browsing and cataloguing module that gives you fuss-free exploring of your image folders but more powerful search tools if you need them. It has an Edit module with Develop, Effects, Portrait and Local (adjustment) panels, and the Effects module alone has a vast array of filters that can be adjusted, masked and combined in an infinite array of permutations. It pulls off a particularly amazing trick, incorporating layers, masking and compositing tools into its fully non-destructive workflow. 

Exposure X7
(Image credit: James Abbott)

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7. Exposure X7

Exposure X7 is a decent all-in organizer and editor, but its strength is its superbly evocative film looks and analog effects

SPECIFICATIONS

PC: Intel Core 2 or compatible, Windows 7 64-bit or later

Mac: Intel Core 2 or compatible, OS X 10.10 or later

Hard drive: Not quoted

Minimum screen resolution: 1280×768 pixels

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

Check Amazon(opens in new tab)

Visit Site(opens in new tab)

REASONS TO BUY

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Powerful all-in-one editing tool+

Easy non-destructive editing+

Huge range of presets

REASONS TO AVOID

Scanning large folders can be slow-

Raw processing isn’t great

Like ON1 Photo RAW 2022, Exposure X7 is a relatively little-known program that deserves a lot more recognition than it gets. It’s a subtle, powerful and efficient all-in-one photo editing and browsing tool that specializes in analog film effects and comes with a huge library of simple one-click preset effects. It doesn’t offer image layers (only adjustment layers), so you can’t combine photos, but for many photographers that won’t matter. Exposure X 7’s strengths are its neat, simpler interface, some beautiful effects and presets and straightforward and effective tools. Like ON1 Photo RAW 2022, it also offers non-destructive adjustments and ‘virtual copies’ to try out lots of different looks for a single image without having to save additional files. The presets and analog looks are amazing, though Exposure X7’s raw processing is not the best and it can be slow to render high-resolution images. It’s worth looking out for periodic special offers, but its publishers have built this software for quality, not cheapness.

Best photo editing software: Skylum Luminar Neo
(Image credit: Rod Lawton)

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8. Luminar AI/Luminar Neo

Skylum’s AI adjustment and effects tools are spectacular, and at this price it’s pretty spectacular value, too

SPECIFICATIONS

PC: Intel Core i5 or better, Windows 10 (64-bit)

Mac: MacOS 10.13.6 or higher

Hard drive: 10GB

Minimum screen resolution: 1280×768 or higher

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

View at Amazon(opens in new tab)

View at Skylum(opens in new tab)

REASONS TO BUY

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Wide range of filters and tools+

Customisable workspaces+

Non-destructive workflow

REASONS TO AVOID

No support for layers-

Templates lack a little variety-

Luminar Neo is coming

We’re lumping Luminar AI(opens in new tab) and Luminar Neo in together because although Skylum says then are different products, there’s so much that’s shared in the AI tech, tools and approach that we think users might see Neo as a development of previous Luminar versions rather than a new program. Luminar focuses heavily on AI effects and ‘templates’, automatically analyzing your images and suggesting some great looks. The AI Sky Replacement filter is quite exceptional (we used it for our image above), and its portrait enhancement tools are more subtle and effective than ever you’d expect in an all-round image editor. It can be used as a standalone program, or as a plugin with Photoshop CC, Lightroom Classic, or Apple Photos. We do think it’s a shame that Skylum has stepped back from the more advanced approach in previous versions and placed so much faith in headline-grabbing AI tools. Brilliant as Luminar is, it does feel like a constantly changing work in progress.

Best photo editing software: Adobe Photoshop Elements 2022
(Image credit: George Cairns)

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9. Adobe Photoshop Elements 2022

We like Elements 2022 for its sheer value for money. It’s a terrific budget buy, but a little dated too

SPECIFICATIONS

PC: 64-bit 1.6GHz or faster, 8GB RAM, Win 10 v1903 or later

Mac: Intel 6th Gen or later, 8GB RAM, OS X 10.14 or later

Hard drive space: 7.8GB

Minimum screen resolution: 1280×800 pixels

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

View at Adobe(opens in new tab)

REASONS TO BUY

+

Friendly interface+

Guided edits

REASONS TO AVOID

Raw processing limited-

Many effects are crude

So far, every program in this list has been a stellar performer perfect for its own particular audience. Can Photoshop Elements 2022 do the same for its core market of novice creators?. The Elements editor, which has an eLive mode for inspiration and tutorials, a Quick mode for fast and simple effects, a Guided mode with an ever-expanding list of effects walkthroughs (three more added in the 2022 version), and an Expert mode with the full range of tools. You can get Photoshop Elements on its own, or with Adobe Premiere Elements as a bundle – Premiere Elements does for video what Photoshop Elements does for photography. Elements 2022 is good value, but despite the increasing inclusion of Adobe Sensei AI technologies, its interface, its approach to editing and its Guided Edits all feel distinctly old-fashioned and limiting.

Best photo editing software: Corel PaintShop Pro 2021
(Image credit: James Abbott)

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10. Corel PaintShop Pro 2022 Ultimate

Good value beginner/intermediate software, but a bit predictable, we think, and Windows only

SPECIFICATIONS

PC: Windows 10 (recommended version 1903 or later with the latest service pack (64-bit editions)

RAM: 4GB of RAM (8 GB recommended for AI tools)

Hard disk space: 3GB (4GB recommended)

Minimum display: 1366 x 768 (1920 x 1080 recommended)

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

View at Amazon(opens in new tab)

View at Best Buy(opens in new tab)

View at Dell(opens in new tab)

REASONS TO BUY

+

Choice of workspaces+

Suits different user levels+

Value for money

REASONS TO AVOID

AI tools not always effective-

Separate installers for bundled software-

Windows only

PaintShop Pro 2022 builds on the upgrades in the previous release of the software to provide the best version to date. The price for the Ultimate version makes it a no-brainer over the standard version based on all the extras you receive for a small increase in price, but since this is Windows-only software Mac owners, unfortunately, miss out. It’s an interesting alternative to Photoshop Elements, giving photo editing novices a helping hand to get started but also offering more advanced tools for the more experienced. Our main issue with Paint Shop Pro 2022 is that it feels like a ‘me-too’ program that cashes in on the latest trends without bringing anything new – and the sense that it’s being developed mainly for its fanbase.

Best photo editing software PhotoDirector 12 Ultra

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A great all in-one browsing, enhancement and effects tool, but a bit of a closed system

SPECIFICATIONS

Compatible with: Windows 7+, Mac 10.11+

Payment model: One-off purchase or subscription

Free trial: 30 days

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

PhotoDirector 365 Monthly(opens in new tab)$14.99/mth(opens in new tab)

PhotoDirector 365 Yearly(opens in new tab)$43.99/year(opens in new tab)

PhotoDirector 10 Ultra(opens in new tab)$79.99(opens in new tab)

VISIT SITE(opens in new tab)at CyberLink(opens in new tab)

REASONS TO BUY

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Friendly interface +

Supports Mac and Windows+

Slick and exciting

REASONS TO AVOID

Guided edits not always effective

If you’re just getting started in photography, you may want photo organizing software that’s relatively simple to get started with. In which case, take a look at CyberLink PhotoDirector, which has a friendly and approachable interface that beginners will find it easy to get on with. You can import photos or folders directly from your camera and organize them by categories, tags and keywords. There’s also a capable face recognition tool. When it comes to editing your images, there are a bunch of preset filters as well as basic editing tools. There are also a range of guided edits, such as Dispersion Effect and Glitch Art, that novices looking to improve their pictures will appreciate. This is a great tool for visual experimenters, but probably not one for pro photographers.

Best photo editing software: ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2022

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