Lightroom Alternatives: The Top List

Adobe Lightroom has long been hailed as the premier photo editing and management program. Adobe has developed a magnificent product that has so much to offer for both hobbyists and professional photographers.

Features this product has included:

  • Detailed photo management tools
  • Rating system for photos including colors and stars
  • Searchable keywords and metadata
  • Basic editing tools for colors, tone, exposure, and other parameters
  • Advanced editing tools such as local and gradient adjustments
  • Ability to export images to social media

As you can see, Lightroom really is an extensive editing program. That doesn’t mean it is the only choice! Lightroom is just one of many editing programs available. There is a great selection of other software that has similar features and usability. Some people simply prefer Lightroom as they have worked with other Adobe products previously. Others prefer to explore alternative options and try out a number of programs to find one they can work with easily.

To help with your choice, we have listed 12 awesome Lightroom alternatives. These Lightroom alternative programs are just as popular. Moreover, they all have a plethora of fantastic features and tools for photo editing. The 12 Lightroom alternatives listed include:

  • Luminar 3
  • ON1 Photo RAW
  • Capture One
  • Aurora HDR
  • RawTherapee
  • Affinity Photo
  • GIMP
  • Air Magic
  • Corel Aftershot
  • Exposure X4
  • DxO Lab
  • ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate

Read on to find out what each of these fantastic Lightroom alternatives has to offer:

1. Luminar 3

Available Platforms – Windows / MAC
Price – $65.00
Supports RAW Editing – Yes
Photo Management Capabilities – Yes with the Luminar Flex plug-in
Notable Feature – Sky Enhance and Foliage Enhance tools

Luminar 3 is one of the top Lightroom alternatives. Skylum has developed an amazing product that combines excellent photo editing tools together with photo management. If you want photo management tools you must install the Luminar Flex plugin. This plugin adds photo management utility into Luminar. You can then organize and catalog your photos. Moreover, you can add ratings and keywords to your images so that they can be easily found.

The interface and toolset for Luminar are easy to use – this is partially why it is a great Lightroom alternative. Moreover, the basic editing tools give you full control over the image parameters. You can easily change the contrast, exposure, saturation and highlights of a photo for example. All changes are updated in real-time and the processing power is excellent.

Finally, Luminar 3 features superb artificial intelligence. Accent AI 2.0, Sky Enhancer and Foliage Enhancer are all amazing AI tools. Each one automatically enhances a certain aspect of an image. Sky Enhancer, for example, will improve the detail within a landscaped sky and boost the colors.

2. ON1 Photo RAW

Available Platforms – Windows / MAC
Price – $63.99
Supports RAW Editing – Yes
Photo Management Capabilities – Yes
Notable Feature – Focus Stack

ON1 Photo RAW is a powerful editing program that is touted as one of the main competitors to Lightroom. This program has extensive RAW editing capabilities and also a fantastic range of data management tools. ON1, of course, has basic editing functionality – users can manipulate image parameters such as saturation, temperature, white balance, and shadows. Moreover, the program has a selection of automatic correction tools with support for a huge number of cameras and lenses.

Users can also create image layers – using the retouching tools, individual objects within an image can be edited without disrupting the rest of the photo. Finally, ON1 also has HDR merging capabilities and specific retouching tools for portraits.

3. Capture One

Available Platforms – Windows / MAC
Price – $299.00
Supports RAW Editing – Yes
Photo Management Capabilities – Yes
Notable Feature – Support for 500+ camera models

Capture One is actually the most expensive Lightroom alternative on this list. This program is mainly aimed at professionals and businesses – if you simply want a program to edit your holiday photos, Capture One is probably not the right choice.

One of the areas Capture One excels in processing batch images. When dealing with large volumes of images, Capture One has the immense processing power. You can literally process hundreds of images with minimal effort. Moreover, the importing process actually applies a basic enhancement to each RAW photo – this can save time if you have a large catalog of shots to process. Capture One also has a great selection of basic editing tools and photo management features.

4. Aurora HDR

Available Platforms – Windows / MAC
Price – $92.00
Supports RAW Editing – Yes
Photo Management Capabilities – Basic
Notable Feature – Automatic pre-sets for HDR images

Skylum has a myriad of awesome editing programs. Aurora HDR is a program specifically created for producing HDR images. Manually producing HDR images can be time-consuming – having to stack each image and merge them together is no small task.

Aurora HDR removes that annoyance and speeds up the process. This software can create beautiful HDR images in seconds. You can leave them as merged RAW files and then edit in Luminar afterward. Alternatively, Aurora HDR also features a myriad of editing tools.

Furthermore, if you want to quickly transform your HDR RAW file into a work of art, Aurora HDR has a range of pre-set filters. The filters are of exceptional quality and mimic a variety of different styles.

5. RawTherapee

Available Platforms – Windows
Price – Free
Supports RAW Editing – Yes
Photo Management Capabilities – Basic
Notable Feature – Multi-thread processing for quick editing

RawTherapee is one of the few free editing programs on this list of Lightroom alternatives. The program is open source and can support 96-bit processing. Moreover, it has an exceptional performance rating and uses multi-threading technology. This means that users can edit batches of photos without putting a strain on their computer.

The tools available in this fantastic program include exposure, color, detail, transformation, and RAW pre-demosaicing features. Color details, for example, include vignettes, curve control, white balance, channel mixers, and graduated filters. RawTherapee also features Adobe’s lens correction profile – this allows users to automatically remove lens imperfections.

If you want a free editor that still delivers a high-quality range of tools, RawTherapee is a brilliant choice.

6. Affinity Photo

Available Platforms – Windows / MAC
Price – $48.99
Supports RAW Editing – Yes
Photo Management Capabilities – Basic
Notable Feature – Ability to create 360 images and panoramas

Affinity Photo is a highly regarded Lightroom alternative, particularly for MAC devices. This program has won numerous awards and is available at a reasonable price. The program itself can support photos up to 100 megapixels in resolution. Moreover, it can process images at 60 FPS which provides smooth editing and scrolling.

In addition to the above, Affinity also has a plethora of fine-tuned adjustments. Users can quickly correct curves, levels, highlights, HSL and other image aspects. Moreover, it is easy to create black and white conversions or other monotone styles. Finally, Affinity Photo also features a large array of layer filters – this can be applied to an image to give it a particular style.

7. GIMP

Available Platforms – Windows / MAC / Linux
Price – Free
Supports RAW Editing – Yes
Photo Management Capabilities – Basic
Notable Feature – Fully customizable interface

GIMP is both a photo editor and a raster graphics design program. It has been around for years and is one of the best know Lightroom alternatives available. In terms of photo enhancement features, GIMP allows users to auto-correct profile distortion using a simple corrective mode. Both barrel distortion and vignetting can be eliminated quickly.

This program also supports a multitude of file formats such as TIFF, JPEG, PNG, and GIF. In addition to this GIMP has a range of transformation tools – users can crop and rotate their images quickly. Layers can also be added which allows for non-destructive editing. One of the best aspects of this program is the fact that is open-source – this means that the source code can be changed and anyone can contribute to the development of the program.

8. Air Magic

Available Platforms – Windows / MAC
Price – $35.00
Supports RAW Editing – Yes
Photo Management Capabilities – Basic
Notable Feature – Available as a standalone product or a plugin

Air Magic is another superb product from Skylum. This is a unique program that is primarily used for automatically enhancing drone photography. Drone photography and video have never been so popular. We now have a myriad of advanced drones that can carry high-quality cameras and produce perfect aerial photography.

Taking drone photography can be time-consuming – this is why it is important to use editing software that speeds up post-processing. Air Magic can do just that. Users can utilize AI technology to turn their drone footage into masterpieces. Moreover, the program contains a myriad of pre-sets and basic editing functionality. This program can also work as an extension for Apple Photos, Photoshop and Lightroom – this is why it is a great Lightroom alternative.

9. Corel AfterShot

Available Platforms – Windows / MAC
Price – $59.99
Supports RAW Editing – Yes
Photo Management Capabilities – Yes
Notable Feature – Fantastic batch processing

Corel is best-known for creating Corel Paint Shop Pro. AfterShot, however, is another Corel product that serves as a fantastic Lightroom alternative. This program has both photo editing and management features. The management features are simple to use but effective – users can quickly sort their images and create a detailed folder hierarchy.

In addition to this, the editing features are quite extensive. Users can add features to their images such as watermarks. Furthermore, two effective tools used for automatic enhancement are the highlight recovery tool and blemish removal feature. The blemish removal tool, for example, removes skin imperfections from portrait shots.

10. Exposure X4

Available Platforms – Windows / MAC
Price – $149.00
Supports RAW Editing – Yes
Photo Management Capabilities – Yes
Notable Feature – Selective adjustments

Alien Skin has produced a fantastic editing program in the form of Exposure X4. This program has every tool and feature imaginable. It has full editing capabilities for RAW photos. Moreover, it has extensive photo management features too. For example, using this program, users can create smart collections using specific keywords. Moreover, images can be given a rating and additional metadata.

The RAW processing capability of Exposure X4 is also fantastic. Users can edit parameters such as highlights and shadows, sharpening and color tones. Moreover, this software has hundreds of beautiful pre-sets that can quickly be applied to your photos. The presets are fully customizable – users can edit the strength and opacity of the filters. Other notable features include portrait retouching, black & white processing, and selective adjustments.

11. DxO Photo Lab

Available Platforms – Windows / MAC
Price – $129.00
Supports RAW Editing – Yes
Photo Management Capabilities – Yes
Notable Feature – Automatic correction tools

DxO Lab is another heavy hitting program that is one of the top Lightroom alternatives. DxO has a multitude of awesome features such as graduated filters, automatic repair tools, and retouching brushes. The retouching brush, for example, allows you to correct specific areas of a photo without disrupting the whole image.

Furthermore, DxO has amazing support for a wide range of camera bodies and lenses – in total there are over 40,000 different combinations. This support allows automatic corrections to be made for such things as lens distortion.

The workflow and interface of this product are also straightforward – if you want an easy-to-use program then DXO Photo Lab is a great choice. In addition to this, DxO has fantastic tools to remove unwanted background noise from your photos – this is fantastic if you shoot low-light photography.

12. ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate

Available Platforms – Windows / MAC
Price – $8.90 p/month
Supports RAW Editing – Yes
Photo Management Capabilities – Yes
Notable Feature – Facial recognition tools

ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate is a top Lightroom alternative. This advanced program has an unbelievable range of features such as color LUTs, color adjustments, individual adjustment brushes, automatic enhancement tools, and layered editing.

Aside from the editing tools, ACDSee also has excellent photo management capabilities. The program allows users to easily find and organize their images. Users can create folder hierarchies and also create quick collections. Moreover, ratings, keywords, and metadata can be added to each image – this allows photos to be quickly found using the advanced search function.

The best feature is possibly the layer editing. Each photo can have a myriad of layers added – each layer can be edited in a specific way which allows for fantastic creative freedom. ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate is certainly a brilliant program and a great Lightroom alternative.

Don’t think that Lightroom is the only photo editing program available! Lightroom is certainly a superb product, but as you can see there is a myriad of Lightroom alternatives available. Products such as Luminar 3, ON1 Photo RAW and ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate are equally as powerful and useful. Why not give one of the above products a try and take your photo editing to the next level?


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