The man working with photo editing software and holding a photo print

Top 10 Best Photo Editing Software in 2018

Editing of photos or post-production nowadays is the second most important part of the photography — right after taking the shot itself. For pros and beginners alike it’s really important to make sure that the post-production is done right ro make their vision come true. Picture editor can help you to process your photos — and there are many of photo editing software out there. Paid and free, for pros and for home use, for PC and for Mac. Let’s discuss top 10 best photo editing software — all of the below is my humble opinion.

1. Adobe Lightroom

The interface of Adobe Lightroom

Lightroom is a big name in photo editing. Almost as big as Photoshop but let’s not get ahead to early.
Modern Lightroom is a perfect tool for any photo enthusiast or home user that wants to bring his picture editing to a new level.

Modern Lightroom, not like its counterpart Lightroom Classic, has moved to Cloud technology, which means that the originals of your photos would be stored in Cloud. But it’s really handier that way. Why?
Because of the new workflow that allows you to shoot photos on your smartphone and edit them on the computer, or maybe start editing on your PC and end it on your smartphone. That’s right, Lightroom is a cross-platform software. Add here intellectual catalog tool and auto-tagging which allows you to keep all your photos in proper order.

In Lightroom you can edit pictures using presets or manually. It allows you to adjust colors, light, optics and fine details.

The interface of Lightroom is very easy for beginners but as a downside it’s a little less capable software than Lightroom Classic. But here is a great thing — you can access them all in one bundle with Photoshop and 20Gb of Cloud Storage for $9.99 a month. That’s more than most of the photographers would ever need.

Pros:
  • Great quality of editing
  • Simple interface
  • Cross-platform — computers and smartphones
  • Smart catalog with Cloud technology
  • Can be subscribed in bundle with Photoshop and Lightroom Classic
  • Both for PC and Mac
Cons:
  • Subscription, no lifetime license

Learn more about Adobe Lightroom


2. Adobe Photoshop

The interface of Adobe Photoshop

Don’t say you didn’t see it coming. Photoshop is one of the most famous software ever, the name of it has already became a verb — “to photoshop”.

Most of the people already know that photo processing = Photoshop and there is a little that can be added. Perhaps, Adobe Photoshop gives too much opportunities for a beginner — here you can not only tune the picture, adjusting its colors and light, but also make a complex montage, compose real pictures with graphics to make it look seamless and so one. Excuse me for not mentioning the trivial things like removing some pimples and red eyes.

Complexity comes with it’s own cost — Photoshop is very hard for a beginner to learn. It’s the most advanced photo editing software after all.

On the bright side, the cheapest way to get Photoshop is in bundle with Lightroom and Lightroom Classic — the same $9.99. If you do that, you would get a great instrument for beginners (which is Lightroom) with a behemoth of software (which is respectively Photoshop). That way you can get a hang of picture editing and take your time to steadily learn the complex stuff.

Pros:
  • The most capable picture-processing software
  • Infinite number of tutorials to get you started
  • Can be subscribed in bundle with Photoshop and Lightroom Classic
  • Both for PC and Mac
Cons:
  • Very complicated interface
  • Subscription, no lifetime license

Learn more about Adobe Photoshop


3. Skylum Luminar

The interface of Luminar

Luminar is a great alternative to Lightroom if you don’t like the subscription. It costs $69 and it’s lifetime. Luminar has a ton of neat filters — color and lens correction and others that allows you to fix the mistakes of your image and add a bunch of creativeness.

Workflow resembles Lightroom pretty much — that’s one of the main points mentioned on Luminar website. And that says a lot because Luminar aims at the same level of performance, quality and variability in terms of manual tuning.

All the filters have nice and intuitive controls that would suffice for any beginner and manual editing has a lot of possibilities to fine tune your picture — just click the link to get to their website and thy the filters right on the page.

Unfortunately, now Luminar doesn’t have any catalog function but developers have promised to add it for free with further updates this year.

Pros:
  • Great filters
  • Interface is simple and easy to get used to
  • Both for PC and Mac
Cons:
  • No photo organizer right now (but it will be added later)

Learn more about Skylum Luminar


4. Adobe Photoshop Elements

The interface of Photoshop Elements

It’s a little brother of Adobe Photoshop and it’s great for anyone who takes pictures of his or her family and loves to share them with friends or relatives.

First of all, there are three editing modes — quick, guided, and expert. First and latter speak for themselves. Guided mode has a lot of step-by-step instructions on how to make great photos. It’s really handy for beginners.

Picture organizer is intelligent. It can not only detect people’s faces and filter photos, but can even detect animals. Let’s say you type “dog” into a search field — photo organizer will show you dog photos.

New features to open closed eyes (Photoshop Elements takes opened eyes from different photos of a same person) and change photo background are very easy to use.

Also, big thing for me was a slideshow function. Program can make you a great slideshow out of your photos with beautiful transitions in no time. They really comes in handy when you want to entertain your guests with photos of your last family vacation.

To sum it up, Photoshop Elements is a great choice for people who mostly do family and friends photos but it won’t do for professionals or photo enthusiasts. The price of $99.99 is pretty high, but it’s a great software that worths its money.

Pros:
  • Three editing modes
  • Great photo organizer
  • Amazing tools for opening closed eyes and changing background
  • Slideshow function
  • Both for PC and Mac
Cons:
  • Pretty expensive
  • Not for professionals or enthusiasts

Learn more Adobe Photoshop Elements

You can read our full Adobe Photoshop Elements 2019 review


5. Pixelmator Pro

The interface of Pixelmator Pro

Pixelmator Pro is a Mac only app that aims at photo enthusiasts that tend to spend some time with their editing. It’s an updated version of standard Pixelmator that has a lot more features, uses Metal API to make it’s really fast and some machine learning tricks that will up your game.

The interface is just beautiful as you would expect from Mac only app. The interface is just gorgeous and pretty easy to learn, if you remember about it being semi-pro app. Basically it’s more advanced than Movavi Photo Editor but less advanced than Adobe Photoshop.

Brushes are just great and with layers support you can draw great pictures. When it comes to photo filters, collection is vast and you can do all the manual editing to make your photo look just right.
Machine learning is a big thing with Pixelmator Pro. It powers color adjustment, quick selection tool, repair tool, horizon detection and layer naming. It’s really great and ups your game.

Overall, Pixelmator Pro is a great software for Mac users that you should really try out. Trial version is free, full version $59.95

Pros:
  • A lot of tools, beautiful brushes
  • Easy and stylish interface
  • Great filters
  • Machine learning that works great
  • Good performance with Metal API
Cons:
  • Mac only

Learn more about Pixelmator Pro


6. Movavi Photo Editor

The interface of Movavi Photo Editor

Movavi Photo Editor is a great choice for beginners. I suppose that it’s the easiest picture editor out there. The big stars of this software is easy-to-use background changing function and intellectual photo restoration.

Both functions are completely intuitive. First one allows you to swap background of your photo in couple of steps. Handy tool for selecting hair to make them look more natural on new background is also present.

Photo restoration is an AI based tool that removes cracks and grains from old photos and makes colors more natural. Unfortunately, this function is Windows-only for now.

Let’s also not forget about all the necessary stuff like filters and manual editing — all these are present in Movavi Photo Editor and work just fine. Also I had a lot of fun with make-up functions, coloring lips of my friends and making their eyelashes look gorgeous.

Movavi doesn’t have a photo organizer function but developers do work on it, judging by the teaser in the program itself which offers to make a pre-order.

In the end, the biggest advantage of this software is it’s accessibility to everyone, regardless of their skill level and its ability to show great results even for complete beginners. Trial version is free, full version costs $39.95.

Pros:
  • Very user friendly yet capable software
  • Great background changing tool
  • Nice restoration tool (Windows x64 only)
  • Both for PC and Mac
Cons:
  • No built-in photo organizer

Learn more about Movavi Photo Editor


7. Cyberlink PhotoDirector

The interface of Cyberlink PhotoDirector

Cyberlink is a company with great history. Many people remember PowerDVD, many uses PowerDirector and many has a great experience with Cyberlink software overall.

PhotoDirector is a great way to make your photos look creative. It has two modes of editing — first is presets, where you can choose a bunch of different filters, frames and so on; the second is manual mode in which you get a full control over your photo.

The reason Cyberlink PhotoDirector is one of the best photo editing software is because of great workflow that is available with these modes. Most of the users would be more than okay with a lot of presets because there is a one for any occasion. But if you’re really into it, you would get the best result possible with full controls.

Add here great picture organizer tool that has some AI built into it to recognize the faces and you would get a great picture editor that would suffice anyone but the most professional users. And a great addition for many users is an instrument to create your own GIFs out of your pictures. Also don’t forget about 360 degrees editing to create nice little planet pictures.

PhotoDirector is a bang for the buck with it’s price of $49.99. Also it has a trial version so be sure to check it out.

Pros:
  • Editing modes for beginners and experienced users alike
  • A lot of presets
  • Great GIF creation tool
  • Picture organizer
  • Both for PC and Mac
Cons:
  • Could be somewhat hard to learn for beginners even in Easy mode

Learn more about Cyberlink PhotoDirector


8. Xara Photo & Graphic Designer

The interface of Xara Photo & Graphic Designer

This is a Windows only software that is great for people who loves old-school interfaces and workflow. The vast capabilities of Xara is up to it’s price of $59.99 — here you have layers, a lot of brushers, retouch tools and immense number of controls.

It’s a type of software that greatly mimics Adobe Photoshop interface and would be great to people who used to work with it. Experienced uses would be familiar with it and would start working right away.

The software includes a great collection of stock photos to use in your designs and some useful templates for promotional materials or banners.

If you see yourself as a person who might want to like Xara, get a free trial to make your mind about purchasing it.

Pros:
  • Great number of features
  • Vast collection of media
  • Old-school user interface
Cons:
  • Old-school users interface — and it’s not a mistake
  • Windows only

Learn more about Xara Photo & Graphic Designer


9. Gimp

The interface of Gimp

Gimp is a free open-source software that available on PC, Mac and even Linux. It has a long history since 1995 and developers always was true to their cause of making highly capable free software that can help with most tasks of computer graphics.

First of all, Gimp is insanely hard to learn. There is no paid software that has such complicated interface. And if Adobe Photoshop is just hard to learn, Gimp sometimes is counter-intuitive. First time I’ve launched it I was overwhelmed with excessive number of controls, interface layouts, different windows and so on.

Of course, when you get a hang of it, you can do almost all the task that an average user would do in Adobe Photoshop, but it will certainly take many more time to get used to Gimp.
Aside from that, It’s really great software with a lot of features, main advantage of which that it’s free.

Pros:
  • It’s free
  • For Windows, Mac, Linux
  • A lot of features
Cons:
  • Insanely hard and counter-intuitive interface
  • No great presets, most of the tuning must be done manually
  • Takes very long to learn
  • No photo organizer

10. Paint.net

The interface of Paint.net

You can think of it as basically an extension of Microsoft Paint. This picture editor is Windows-only.
The interface is in some way mimics both Paint and Photoshop — a good thing if you’re familiar with one of these.

Abilities of Paint.net is somewhat comparable with Gimp, but Gimp is more advanced. On the bright side the interface of Paint.net is much simpler and user friendly, but still a bit hard.
And of course, because this software is free, forget about all your beautiful presets and slick interfaces. You have to sacrifice something, you know.

Pros:
  • It’s free
  • Interface is somewhat between Pain and Photoshop
Cons:
  • No great presets, most of the tuning must be done manually
  • It’s not the easiest software out there
  • No photo organizer
  • Windows only

When choosing a photo editing software be sure to try as many as you can and than buy one that suits you best. Whether you’re a beginner or a professional, there is a software for you, you just need to pick one.

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