Adobe Lightroom is a versatile tool for photographers of all skill levels, but it’s not exceptional at everything. Some programs perform better in some capacities and can improve your workflow when used in conjunction with Lightroom or other photo editing software. Let’s take a look at some of the best Lightroom alternatives.
Best Lightroom Alternatives for Image Management and Processing
When it comes to organizing and editing photos, Adobe Lightroom is a popular, high end choice, but it’s not your only option. Several Lightroom alternatives help you achieve similar image editing results, and some are free!
Best Option: DxO PhotoLab 3
PhotoLab’s high end suite of editing software is impressive with more bells and whistles than a lot of the others. It is especially effective for RAW files, though it doesn’t support Fujifilm X-Trans.
DxO Photolab 3 allows you to work with areas of the photo rather than applying corrections to the entire image. The program is also non destructive, so you never lose your original.
Other Reasonable Lightroom Alternatives
If DxO PhotoLab doesn’t appeal to you, but you still want to bypass Lightroom, you’re not out of luck. Finding the right Lightroom alternative may take a bit of research, but in the end, it’s worth it if you find image editing software that fits your needs.
ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2020
ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate came close to the top Lightroom alternative because it offers so many tools, including the ability to categorize and rate files. However, there are two glaring drawbacks. First, it’s not as user-friendly as other software, and some of the noise-reducing tools aren’t as effective.
Adobe Camera Raw
If you don’t shoot in raw format, move on to another product. However, photographers using RAW format may want to check out Adobe Camera Raw for viewing, organizing, and editing those files. It’s user-friendly and does a lot of the same things as Lightroom.
Affinity Photo is an affordable Lightroom alternative with the capacity to edit RAW files, work with vector images, and merge panoramas. However, it’s difficult to use, lacks templates, and misses the boat on advanced features making it less exciting than Lightroom.
AlienSkin Exposure X5
Fast, efficient, and overflowing with editing tools, Exposure X5 is a thrilling Lightroom alternative. You have plenty of options in upgrades, and it’s highly organized. However, it is one of the pricier options on the list. Some users may struggle with learning the interface and how to use the advanced features.
Capture One Pro
Capture One Pro may be one of the best Lightroom alternatives for image editing because it has loads of features, including excellent RAW image file processing. If you’re not sure about it, Capture One offers a 30-day free trial to learn the software before committing to the purchase.
Chasys Draw IES
Chasys Draw IES is an advanced photo editor with tons of features and tools. It includes a collection of programs to achieve everything from image stacking to animation. Unlike Lightroom, this software may be better suited for amateur and advanced users.
Corel AfterShot Pro 3
Aftershot Pro 3 is one of the more affordable Lightroom alternatives. It’s easy to use, and Corel provides plenty of support for users, though there’s no tutorial built into the program.
Fuji developers struggle to find programs that work with their files, but Iridient Developer is different. It’s not as user-friendly as other photo editing software, like Lightroom, but it does a fabulous job of converting RAW files.
ON1 Photo RAW
This software is another contender for the best alternative to Lightroom because it’s more affordable, and offers many of the same features. Instead of a catalog, ON1 Photo RAW uses a database to organize photos and does a fantastic job with RAW processing.
There are some minor annoyances when operating the ON1 Photo RAW sliders and there’s no history panel. However, ON1 Photo RAW is a non destructive photo editing program, so you don’t lose your original image.
Photo Ninja does two things very well – convert RAW files and noise reduction. Beyond that, there are some helpful, advanced tools and organizational options, but it lacks some custom adjustments most users require. It’s also a Mac-only program.
Another Mac-only option, Pixelmator Photo, is affordable and allows users to make quick fixes on photos. There are tons of presets to make editing even faster and easier. The upside is that unlike Lightroom, you can use the app on your iPad. However, the downside is that you can’t access Pixelmator Photo directly from Apple Photos.
SilkyPix Developer Studio
SilkyPix is a Windows-based program that’s been around for a while. There’s a reason it’s been around for years and not widely known or advertised – it’s just average. SilkyPix is a decent option with enough features to satisfy most users, but there’s nothing outstanding about it, and you may prefer Lightroom.
Skylum Luminar 4
Skylum Luminar 4 is another impressive alternative to Lightroom with an incredible AI feature. The interface is functional and intuitive for most users, and the AI tools help you create stunning photos – most of the time. You may need to add some custom enhancements after using the AI tools, but it doesn’t detract from the outcome.
Zoner Photo Studio X
This Windows-based software is a newer contender for Lightroom, and it doesn’t disappoint. There are a few quirks that could annoy some users, but it’s a non destructive, layer-based editing program with tons of features and a reasonable price tag.
Is Lightroom free? No, you probably won’t find Lightroom for free. Whether you’re a beginner, a hobbyist, or simply looking to save, free photo editing software is a plus. You don’t have to invest in expensive suites to organize and edit your photos, instead, try one of these free Lightroom alternatives.
Mac users should be familiar with Apple Photos. It’s a free Lightroom alternative that allows you to store photos in iCloud and then access them on any Mac devices. The app is easy to navigate, and the editing tools are sufficient for basic processing, though it lacks the advanced tools you get with Lightroom.
Another stellar choice is Darktable, a free Lightroom alternative that allows you to manage and edit multiple file times, including raw images. Though there are no online or mobile versions, it’s accessible on most platforms, including Windows, Mac, and Linux. Some users argue that Darktable is superior to Lightroom in several areas.
GIMP is an open source program and free Lightroom alternative loaded with editing tools, and versatile. It works with Mac and Windows, but it may be a bit complicated for beginners, especially since there’s no tutorial. Once you get the hang of it (and there is plenty of guidance online), it’s fast and convenient.
Photographers seeking a basic program to organize and edit images may prefer InPixio. You can’t do advanced edits, but it handles color corrections and basic techniques. InPixio Editor is a free Lightroom alternative, but if you want more features, you’ll have to pay for the additional programs to complete the suite.
LightZone is another free Lightroom alternative that makes a big splash in photo editing. It’s easy to navigate and comes with an extensive help section. It’s available on Windows, Mac, and Linux, and it handles multiple image formats, including RAW files.
Nikon users may appreciate the CaptureNX2 because it’s free and functional. It may not be as powerful as other apps, including Lightroom, but it provides photo editing tools for minor adjustments. Unfortunately, it has some functional issues and may freeze on some devices.
If you want a free option and don’t mind an open source program, Paint.NET is user-friendly and handles basic to moderate editing jobs. It offers a lot of the same features as Lightroom and other popular editing programs but may not be the best option for beginners.
Photo Pos Pro
This software means to reach beginners and professionals alike. Choose your interface based on your skill level, then go to town. There are one-click and manual editing tools, plus plenty of help features, including tutorials. However, you should have at least some understanding of photo editing before using this software.
Photopea is a web-based program that allows you to organize, edit, and enhance photos from your browser. It feels a lot like Adobe Photoshop, but Photopea doesn’t run as smoothly, so it’s clunky to use, but it’s a free Lightroom alternative.
Users seeking a free, basic, easy-to-learn photo editor should check out Photoscape. You can download the desktop version for free on Windows devices. While it’s easier to use and geared toward newbies, some minor quirks make Photoscape a weaker choice.
Pixlr is one of the more advanced programs you can get for free. It’s web-based and requires Flash. You can upload images from your desktop, a URL, or directly from Facebook. While it’s a free Lightroom alternative, Pixlr has some ads.
Polarr is another browser-based editor with some fun features and easy-to-use tools. It’s accessible and does a solid job of photo editing. However, you can’t open larger files, and it has some coding constraints that other software, like Lightroom, doesn’t.
The ability to edit RAW files is crucial for many photographers, and being able to do it for free is a bonus. RawTherapee is reminiscent of Lightroom but offers more options for color correction. Unfortunately, RawTherapee is open source which can create some issues, and there’s a bit of a learning curve involved.
Lightroom Alternatives for Image Management
Image management involves efficiently organizing and storing photos. Since most people don’t just capture one image, you could have hundreds or thousands of photos. That makes it impossible to access a particular image or memory if you lack structure. Using image management software in addition to Lightroom can change your life.
Again, Lightroom allows you to manage images, and it automatically does a lot of the organization for you. However, there are alternative programs that give you a little more control over the process and handle some aspects more efficiently.
Best Option: ACDSee Photo Studio 2020
ACDSee Photo Studio has multiple versions at different price points. Amateur photographers can choose a different level than professionals, but they all share similar features.
The goal is efficiency, and ACDsee Photo Studio delivers in spades. Their software focuses on improving workflow and increasing productivity by organizing and streamlining your images. From keywords to tags, ACDSee Photo Studio is tough to beat, and they have several awesome editing tools.
There are dozens of choices for image management software, and they all offer slightly different systems. If ACDSee Photo Studio is too much program for you, and you want a Lightroom alternative, check out these other image management programs.
You may know nothing about iMatch, but it’s a solid image management software that employs a “wizard” to help you through the initial setup. It doesn’t duplicate images through different categories or tags; instead, each thumbnail can have multiple tags to make searching easier and more efficient.
Daminion is simple but powerful and widely available. It helps individuals and large businesses manage images and videos at every level. The company boasts that it takes less than an hour for new users to set up and run the software with confidence. You can even try a free demo to see if Daminion can meet your needs.
Lightroom Alternatives for RAW Image Workflow Tools
Professional photographers tend to use RAW images because of the outstanding color depth in comparison to JPEG files. When you choose to process the RAW images yourself (instead of leaving the work to your camera), you open up a world of opportunity.
Of course, processing RAW images yourself requires appropriate software that handles the files because most operating systems can’t read them. You need software that allows you to import, organize, and prepare RAW files quickly.
Adobe Lightroom handles RAW processing adequately, and if you’re already using the software for editing, it works just fine. However, there are some programs that do a better job with RAW processing than Lightroom does.
Best Option: FastRawViewer
FastRawViewer works with PCs and Macs with the specific goal of quickly importing RAW files. It expedites your workflow and allows you to delete unwanted photos, set ratings, and create labels. FastRawViewer is affordable and easy to learn.
Free Option: ExifTool
As we mentioned, you won’t get Lightroom free, but ExifTool is a free, convenient alternative. There are no bells and whistles attached to this software, but it allows you to read, write, and edit metadata information for images, including RAW images. Plus, you can use it on Windows, Mac, Unix, and more.
Additional RAW Image Workflow Tools
Adobe DNG Converter
There’s not much to this software; it handles RAW processing of your files by converting them to Adobe-friendly DNG files. Some users may see the benefit of using Adobe’s DNG Converter to expedite their workflow; however, once converted, you cannot revert to RAW files.
RawDigger is an affordable option offering a free trial and various versions. It allows you to view and analyze RAW images and videos quickly. Beginners may struggle to master the interface, and some of the functions are irritating.
Lightroom Alternatives to Use as an Image Browser
An image browser allows you to search through thousands of digital photos quickly and efficiently based on metadata. It’s faster (and easier) than shuffling through thumbnails or full-sized images to capture one specific photo!
Why do you need an image browser if you have Lightroom? One of the drawbacks of Lightroom is that images must be converted to view them in the program. Dedicated image browsers allow you to view different file formats and weed out unwanted photos before uploading them to editing software (like Lightroom).
Best Option: BreezeBrowser Pro
BreezeBrowser Pro has been around for years because it remains a reliable image browser. It’s fast, efficient, and allows you to review images seamlessly. BreezeBrowser Pro is extremely easy to use and has some editing features that make it appealing, even if you plan to use dedicated editing software, like Lightroom.
A free image browser is a great way to cut costs, but there aren’t many options, and they tend to be system-specific. However, there are a few choices that give you solid image browsing abilities without the added expense.
Microsoft Windows 10 Photos
If you’re a Windows user, you may be familiar with Microsoft Windows 10 Photos. It’s free, has some editing and photo enhancement tools, and can be set as the default image viewer.
Another free image browser, Adobe Bridge, allows you to tag and organize files. It’s free on Adobe’s website and offers more features than typical default image viewers. Keep in mind, you can only work with metadata and keywords, no cropping or color corrections happen in Adobe Bridge.
Additional Image Browser Choices
These options aren’t free, but they make viable Lightroom alternatives for image browsing. If you need something to improve your workflow, these may do the trick to weed through unwanted images before uploading them to Lightroom.
As far as image browsers go, this could be the king of them all because you can upload, browse, organize, tag, and export photos with ease. However, it’s pricey for a program that doesn’t do much else.
There are a few minor editing tools included, but you need to use a separate program for serious editing. You may want to try the free trial for 90 days before committing.
This software may be one of the most versatile choices on the list. It works with Windows, Mac, and Linux, handles over 500 image formats, and allows you to do much more than browse photos. XNView MP is fast, efficient, and incredibly easy to master. It also happens to be one of the more affordable choices.
Lyn is an easy, fast image viewer for Mac OS X that supports popular image formats, including RAW, PNG, and JPEG files. You can sample it with a 15-day free trial, but it’s on the cheaper end and may be worth the purchase. Lyn does have some simple editing tools included.
Fileloupe is another Mac-only app, but it’s functional and handles a lot of media efficiently. You can view images, including embedded metadata, open multiple viewers, and flag collections. Start with a two-week trial or purchase outright for a minimal charge.
Best Software for Digital Asset Management for Teams
Like Lightroom, some of the programs mentioned above are wonderful tools. What if you have a team of people who all need access to the same digital media?
Many image editing and image management programs noted above, including Lightroom, focus on the individual experience. However, teams need access to images for a variety of uses. Digital Asset Management (DAM) programs help teams manage digital media efficiently.
Best Option: Extensis Portfolio
Extensis Portfolio tops this list because it’s widely accepted as the best by companies of all sizes and across industries. They accommodate the growth of a company’s digital archives and remains a reliable program.
There is minimal negative feedback on the company or the product. In fact, one of the selling points is the stellar customer support.
Other Digital Asset Management Software for Teams
You don’t just capture one image or idea when working with a team, so one program doesn’t work for all companies. There are more options to help your team manage digital assets.
Formerly known as Libris, Photoshelter provides teams with the ability to share media quickly. It’s easy to move files around and access them from various workstations on the same network.
PhotoShelter offers a free trial, and then teams can choose either the Standard or Pro version. The program works with most devices and uses the Cloud for storage.
Cumulus by Canto
Canto serves some major companies but doesn’t exclude smaller businesses. They can create an on-premise storage solution, host your media in the Cloud, or create a hybrid for a truly custom experience. Canto has been around for more than 25 years, so it may be a little behind the times compared with other options.
Open Asset is tailored to certain industries and fares well for those businesses. If you’re not in real estate, architecture, engineering, or construction, you may want to look elsewhere. However, Open Asset’s customized approach works for them and may open the door for other businesses to create a DAM for specific industries.
ResourceSpace is another specialized DAM program that focuses on academic and non-profit organizations, though they do serve other industries. It’s fast and easy to use with multiple filters to help you locate the image you need. It even includes a reporting system to track how data performs.
Larger companies may gravitate toward Widen, which specializes in large-scale DAM. The software packs a punch with loads of helpful features, including the ability to assign roles and groups.
Lightroom Alternatives for Batch Processing
Batch processing allows you to adjust multiple photos at the same time. After all, you don’t just capture one shot, you capture several.
Watermarks, quick crops, and resizes are common batch processing techniques that can save you a lot of time. In Lightroom you can use batch editing, but there are some limitations, and some programs simply do it better.
Best Option: XnConvert
This software accepts most file types and allows you to apply more than 80 tools to multiple pictures. From rotating to color adjustment, you can apply changes to all images in a photo collection with the click of a button. XnConvert works with Mac, Windows, and Linux.
Free Option: IrfanView
Easily apply filters and watermarks to photo collections with IrfanView. It’s one of the most user-friendly options on the list, which may appeal to beginners. IrfanView also happens to be free for non-commercial use. The downside is that more advanced users may find it too simplistic.
Other Lightroom Alternatives
As the name suggests, BatchPhoto allows you to apply simple edits to multiple images, including watermarks and date stamps. Unlike some of the other programs, BatchPhoto also includes effects, like borders and frames.
Mac users may appreciate the PhotoMill app for its price and flexibility. It supports multiple image formats, varying color depths, and different color models. You can name batches for better organization and make a variety of edits.
PhotoBulk is another Mac app that allows users to apply edits to hundreds of photos. It is easy to use and inexpensive for what it offers. However, there are some image limitations, and you can’t make changes to individual photos at all.