We are in the golden age of digital photography, with millions of people around the world taking pictures every day and many wanting to be photographers for passion or profession. Whether you’re an amateur or a professional with years of experience, you probably want to organize and edit your photos, and nothing is better for that than a powerful photo editing program that meets all your requirements. That’s why today we bring you a list with the best photo editing software of 2019.
Nowadays we carry in our pocket a Smartphone whose camera has better resolution than the professional cameras from a few years ago, so the number of photographs currently existing is enormous. Some of the following programs not only edit, but they also have some way to organize your photos. This list doesn’t follow an order of importance, all the programs mentioned here are good at something and all are a nice option to take. With nothing more to say, let’s start:
This is perhaps the most popular name on any list, one of the worldwide most recognized design program and the reference when it comes to photo editing, Adobe Photoshop.
Photoshop is one of the most powerful image editing programs in the industry, with almost 30 years in the design market, and its most recent version, Adobe Photoshop CC 2018, offers a wide variety of tools and options that can be used by both professionals and amateurs.
One of the main features of Adobe Photoshop is its layer management. You can work in different layers in the same image without altering the others and edit completely some parts of the image without touching the rest. Photoshop includes a wide variety of tools with each new version that hits the market, and this year was not left behind. Face-Aware Liquify and Content-Aware Crop make editing a lot easier and increase the catalog of editing tools, which was already quite large, making Adobe’s big one stay at the top of the professional editing level.
In addition to the basic photography settings, Photoshop has a variety of filters, 3D editing, typographic and drawing tools. One of the disadvantages is that it doesn’t offer a catalog of images or some kind of catalog organization, this whole process must be done with some other program.
The Photoshop interface is simple, with different workspaces presets available and the option to modify your own workspace. The toolbar is on the left, and some settings, including the layer history, is on the right, all in the default workspace. The drop-down menu bar offers the other options that are not in plain view, and its number of keyboard shortcuts is quite large. It can be a bit tangled if you are an amateur user opening Photoshop for the first time, but with a bit of use you’ll realize that it’s quite intuitive.
Photoshop is available for both Windows and Mac, in 32- and 64-bit versions, in 26 different languages.
Photoshop went from a Lifetime License System to a monthly fee. This facilitates the acquisition of the program for users who only want to use it for short periods, but increases the long-term cost for fixed users. The price is $9.99 per month and comes with another software from the company, Adobe Lightroom.
- Large number of professional level editing tools.
- Enormous editing power.
- It can be used by both amateurs and professionals.
- Affordable price for beginners.
- A great variety of tutorials available on the web.
- Can be a little overwhelming for first timers.
- You can’t buy a license for life.
- If you want to organize your images in a catalog, you’ll need another program.
Next in the list is another classic of photo editing, preferred by photographers for its workflow management, intuitive interface and editing speed, Adobe Lightroom.
Lightroom is one of the best photo editing software and the number one choice for photo organization and catalog management, which makes it a favorite of many photographers. It offers corrections based on the camera and lens used in each photograph, as well as presets of settings that can be created by the user.
Adobe keeps all its editing programs up to date, and Lightroom is not the exception. Adobe Lightroom Classic CC is the latest version of the highly acclaimed program, which continues to be the referent for organizing and editing large numbers of images. Its catalogue allows different sorting criteria: by date, by order of addition, editing, sorting by colour, file type, extension, names and more.
The developing module is quite intuitive, with sidebars that can be expanded, collapsed and kept fixed. It does not offer layer editing like other programs, but its power is not limited by this. It offers all the necessary adjustments to develop a raw file, as well as a wide selection of corrections by lens and camera type, which can be done automatically or manually, depending on the options you select. Gradients, curves, color management and brushes to modify particular areas of the image.
The import module is quite complete. You can import directly from SD and set your Lightroom to automatically start every time the computer detects an SD card or USB device in the system. You can create 1-to-1 visualizations and import a large number of images into the catalog, which is the program’s system for organizing images. You can assign keywords to each photo or group of photos, for easier management. Then you can search for photos by keywords.
Adobe Lightroom Classic CC needs a relatively recent operating system, as it only runs from Windows 7 SP1 to Windows 10, or on macOS 10.11 through 10.13.
Adobe offers the Creative Cloud Photography subscription, which costs $9.99 and includes Photoshop and the latest version of Lightroom: Adobe Lightroom Classic CC.
- Excellent handling of large numbers of images.
- Wide variety of photo sorting options.
- Synchronizes settings for image groups.
- Particular settings depending on the type of camera and lens used for photography.
- Still a little slow in the import/export process, compared to the competition.
- Lack of layers for edition.
Phase One, the world-renowned Danish company, has Phase One Capture Pro on the scene, its bet on photo editing programs. Phase One is known for its high-performance cameras, such as the large 100-megapixel XF 100MP, and entered the market of design programs with Capture One Pro, a program that has been updated regularly and in 2018 is in its version 11.
Capture One Pro is a powerful program, there is no doubt of that, and its biggest bet is tethering, territory in which it is victorious over other software of the competition. If you have used any previous version, you will notice that the interface is almost intact than in previous versions, as Capture One was responsible for focusing its efforts on improving the speed of import and export, which is quite fast compared to its direct competition, Lightroom.
Capture One offers the option of organizing your photos and has different types of classification, a function that allows you to increase the speed with which you edit and manage your workflow. The photo management isn’t as deep and doesn’t have as many options as you’d like, but it does its job decently.
What Capture One shines in is at photo editing. Its power is on par with the big names in the industry, and in some cases, surpasses them. Its basic raw settings tools work better than other programs, offering better overall image quality.
In addition to the already mentioned, Phase One Capture Pro uses the “Nondestructive” editing as a cover letter. With this you can make any type of modification in the photograph and it is enough to press a button to re-establish the image and leave it in its original and unedited version.
Capture One is available for both Windows and Mac, requiring Windows 7 SP1 through Windows 10 or macOS 10.10.5 or later.
Phase One offers its program in 2 forms of payment: One-time payment and monthly payment. The one-time payment is $299 for a lifetime license that you can use on up to 3 computers, and the monthly payment is $20, which is reduced to $15 if you sign up for an entire year.
- King of tethering, the best you can get in a software.
- Its import and export speed has no current comparison.
- Simple and easy to use, with an intuitive interface.
- Better image quality when importing raw files than the competition.
- Lack of organization and image management tools.
- A little more expensive than other products on this list.
Adobe appears once again in the list with another of its programs of the Creative Cloud, this time it is the turn of Adobe Photoshop Elements. This program has been on the market since version 6 of Photoshop, and has always been aimed at a less professional market than its big brother. It combines certain elements that we can obtain in other programs of the Adobe suite, both in the edition and in the organization of the photographs.
Since its inception, Elements has served as a bridge between those who start in the world of digital retouching and the most advanced editing programs, all this while maintaining some editing power. The program itself feels like a mixture of some of the photo organization functions that we can get in Lightroom, along with the more user-friendly tools that Photoshop has, as well as some other professional level tools, simplified for amateur users or those who are just starting to edit.
In the organization module is where we can perform all the functions of image management, search, tag and import. Elements has some very particular functions in this section, with the Auto Curate mode being the most peculiar. This mode automatically reviews all the images in a group and selects the ones it considers best taken, taking into account certain details such as focus, exposure, composition, framing, etc., speeding up the selection process a bit. The user will also be able to review their images one by one, but this function is very helpful.
The editing module is where Elements really shines, with powerful tools available to everyone. Certain editing tools that exist in more advanced programs such as Photoshop are relatively simplified for the amateur user in Elements, all this without losing some manual features that a professional or an advanced user could use properly.
Available for Windows 7 SP 1, Windows 8 or Windows 10 and Mac OS X v10.11 through macOS v10.13
Adobe Photoshop Elements comes at a single price of $99.
- Easy to use at any learning level.
- Professional tools at an amateur price.
- Excellent image and tag organization module.
- Its weight is considerably large.
- It’s an understatement if you’re a professional.
- Some tools could be improved.
Corel offers the market another competitor that has many options to fight the big names in editing pictures: Corel PaintShop Pro. With PaintShop Pro you can do certain things that are achieved with the competition, such as work in layers, masking options, support for digital tablets and more. One of the main advantages it has against other programs on the same scale is the price, which is relatively low in contrast to everything it can do.
The first thing we notice when running PaintShop Pro is the option to choose the type of interface we want to use: Essentials or complete. With this option you can notice that the program is aimed at both beginners and editing professionals.
With the Essentials workspace we have a simplified interface for the amateur user, which helps not to make him feel overwhelmed with so many options. Apart from that, a tutorial guides you through all the basic system options. If we already have some experience or need different options, PaintShop Pro allows you to modify various aspects of the interface, as well as the color of the program and some other options.
The complete interface has more functions, available for more advanced users, as well as more complex tools. The speed is on the side of PaintShop Pro, as Corel was responsible for greatly improving performance compared to previous versions, making it one of the fastest in applying adjustments and processing images.
Another difference between complete workspace and Essentials is the Manage module. There you will be able to organize and do all the image management necessary to organize your workflow. In the edit section we are able to edit our photos, applying filters and adding effects, although these are a little limited.
There is no version for Mac, so it is only compatible with Windows 10, Windows 8/8.1, and Windows 7 SP1.
PaintShop pro comes in 2 Standard and Ultimate versions, with a single price of $79.99 and $99.99 respectively.
- Its price makes it a tentative option.
- User-friendly interface.
- Offers some more expensive program features.
- May become slow when functioning.
- No version for Mac.
- You fall short of options at the professional level.
DxO is renowned for its various high level tools for photo editing, and recently modified its old Optics Pro, adding different new functions, to create what we know today as DxO PhotoLab, the French company’s bet on the image editing software market. Thanks to the purchase of Nik by DxO, Photolab has some interesting tools that are not available in other competing programs, which makes it a particular application.
DxO Photolab, formerly Optics Pro, has behind itself one of the companies that best understands the flaws in the lenses when taking photos, and knows perfectly how to accommodate them. U point Technology is the highlight of Photolab, since with this option we can analyze the image and make the necessary adjustments in a very short time. The local settings are new in this version, and work great, with a manual equalizer style system that you can move as you like to get the desired results.
The interface is easy to use, and one of the features that make Photolab different from other programs is its database of lenses and camera bodies. When we add a photo to the program, it checks the EXIF of the photo, compares it to its database and makes the necessary automatic adjustments.
But the greatest function this program can have is its noise reduction, as it is one of the best on the market. Not even Photoshop achieves the same result in high iso images as fast as Photolab.
Photolab offers some organization and image management options, but they are not at the level of the other programs already listed here, however, they fulfill their basic function of organization.
Photolab comes in Windows and Mac versions, specifically for Windows 7 SP1 and later, and for macOS 11.11 and later.
DxO Photolab can be purchased in 2 versions, Essentials and Elite, both for $129 and $199 respectively, although the recommendation to get the most out of the program is to use the Elite version that has its noise reduction function.
- The best noise reduction on the market.
- Your database of lenses and camera bodies.
- Easy to use.
- The power of local adjustments is comparable to much more expensive programs.
- Image management could be improved.
- Some functions of the local settings are still in diapers.
Cyberlink has been entering the world of photo editing software for some time with its PhotoDirector, a program that goes beyond being a simple photo editor. With Cyberlink PowerDirector Ultra you can seamlessly organize, modify or edit your photo gallery, all from within the same program.
One of the first extra features Cyberlink PowerDirector offers you is that each user receives, at no additional cost, 20 GB of available space to store their photos in the cloud. This suits all those photographers who wish to free up some space on their computer, or serves as a good organizing tool.
In the section of organizing photos, PowerDirector offers some of the functions already found in other software, such as sorting photos by name, date, color and custom collections.
Facial recognition options help to organize photos of the same person or a group of people, which saves some time when doing image management. PowerDirector also works under the law of the “Nondestructive” type of edit, in which photos can be restored at any time to their original state, something similar to that seen in Capture One Pro.
In editing, PowerDirector doesn’t lag behind in terms of power, as it is a program that fulfills all the essential editing functions and offers some extras that make things easier, such as the content-aware removal tool, which allows you to remove unwanted elements from the photo quickly and accurately. In addition to that, we have HDR editing and panoramas, functions that are not available in all editing programs.
Cyberlink PhotoDirector is available for both Mac and Windows, specifically for Windows 7 SP1 and later, and for macOS 11.11 and later.
There are two versions of PowerDirector, the Deluxe and the Ultra, each with a fixed price of $59.99 and $99.99 respectively.
- High editing power.
- Content-aware object removal.
- Good noise-reduction capabilities.
- Lack of tethering shooting.
- Some functions fall short of other programs.
There is a whole range of programs available if image editing is discussed. Anyhow, Adobe is still the reference in the market, proof of this is that 3 of their programs appear in most lists of editing software. If Photoshop is not your thing, you still have different programs to try, so do not be discouraged and select the program that best suits your needs both as an editor and a photographer.