By Ann Young 11 days ago Software Reviews
What are the best Lightroom alternatives that are free or can be bought outright?
Are there a free Lightroom alternative that can completely replace Lightroom in terms of photo color correction, batch processing, photo management and RAW photo editing?
Undoubtedly, Adobe Lightroom is the best photo editing software for professional photographers, who need to edit RAW files and for beginning shooters who need fast photo editing with Lightroom presets.
But what if I told you about the following 21 FREE Lightroom alternatives that offer practically the same functions?
RawTherapee is one of the best Lightroom alternatives that has similar functions and features. But it is an open source photo editor, which makes it absolutely free for Windows and MacOS users.
An interesting peculiarity of this program is that RawTherapee uses non-destructive picture editing, so you can return to the source file any time you wish. The photo editor has a wide range of tools for color correction, noise reduction, rotation, exposure control, shadows and light regulating, tone settings, vignetting and much more.
As well as in Lightroom, you can use ready-made presets, or create your own, expanding the library. Though the functionality seems really powerful, the image editor is optimized for weak PCs, which makes it the best free Lightroom alternative.
Download Lightroom Free to test this Adobe color correction software before subscription.
Speaking of minuses, I noticed only two of them: the photo editor has poorly developed tools for working with masks and layers (the working process is simply very inconvenient) and it doesn’t support the latest cameras released in late 2018 - early 2019.
If you knew about RawTherapee, the free Lightroom alternative, you have probably heard of Darktable. It's also a free, open source software that combines many tools for image editing, convenient cataloging and RAW file processing. The photo editor has a simple and quite pleasant user interface with convenient controls.
I can’t help but mention that Darkrable is also available for the Linux platform, and if you have this OS, this is the best free Lightroom alternative for you. As for shortcomings, I will note that Darktable Lightroom equivalent is not suitable for professional picture editing and some tools require improvement.
Picktorial is a non-destructive RAW photo editor that makes it easy to organize and enhance your photos. This Lightroom alternative is designed exclusively for Mac OS and is seen as a replacement for Apple's photo editors. It includes all the basic settings and tools that you expect: from adjusting tones, colors, white balance, clarity, curves and saturation.
However, the “Retouch” tool is where you can delve into the most interesting changes. You can adjust tones, remove stains or dust, smooth skin, remove noise or add blur using the “Defocus” tool. Unfortunately, Pictorial does not offer layers editing, each photo editing tool can have several editing points that have their own settings.
PhotoScape is a “shareware free” app suitable for professional shooters and designers, as well as beginners. One of the main advantages of PhotoScape is that it has several separate services for photo editing, image management, GIF and video processing, RAW file conversion and many others. Each tab offers relatively powerful tools and a simple interface that is understandable for a beginner.
This free alternative to Lightroom performs professional photo editing, creates design projects, logos, banners, etc. It should be mentioned that it is suitable not only for Windows and Mac OS platforms but also for Linux. Unfortunately, some functions are limited in the free version.
DigiKam free Lightroom alternative is a powerful photo manager, organizer and image editor created for Linux, but also available for Windows and Mac. Actually, this is a whole package. You can import images in various ways, organize them into albums, view and search in your collection by location, time, tags and people.
You can use this open source photo editor to experiment with various tools and edit images professionally, create panoramas and calendars, then export selected images and share them online. DigiKam allows you not only to find images by name or tag. The search option helps you find photos that are similar to others. Though this Lightroom alternative free is mainly designed to manage your pictures rather than to edit them, in some cases, it has more useful functions than specialized programs.
If you are looking for a free Lightroom alternative that is an excellent RAW converter, LightZone can be a great choice for you. The photo editor has a large collection of tools for RAW image processing. Using LightZone Lightroom replacement, you can easily enhance photos, eliminate defects, perform basic color correction, adjust white balance, blur certain areas, increase sharpness, remove traces of dust on the lens and reduce the noise that often appears when shooting with high ISO.
Instead of using layers like other photo editors do, LightZone allows users to create a stack of necessary tools (chain/toolbox). During photo post processing, you can rearrange, reconfigure, activate or remove any tool from the set. This photo editor has one very serious drawback and if you came across a Lightzone review, you know it. This program is not suitable for professional color correction, as many tools are poorly developed.
If you're looking for a Lightroom equivalent that is similar in functionality and capabilities, Polarr can be a good option for you. It's nice that this free photo editing software has a fairly simple interface and tools that do not require many hours of training. The tools are mainly aimed at color correction: exposure, shadows, curves, brushes, masks, layers, work with light, details, presets, etc.
In addition, the photo editor offers a separate tab for drawing, creating logos and banners. This Lightroom free alternative supports GIF files. As for the minuses, I would like to point out that it does not support RAW files. Therefore, it is not suitable for professional photographers.
Paint.Net is an open source image editor for Windows. The program has a simple interface and useful tools. The pleasant feature is that it does not require a powerful PC configuration. Remember that Paint and PaintNet are completely different programs, offering different tools and functions, so do not confuse them.
On the whole, PaintNet is a free Lightroom alternative for beginners who are not interested in software stuffed with lots of functions. Speaking about drawbacks, I should point out that this application is only Windows-compatible. Moreover, the interface is a little old-fashioned and does not fully correspond to modern standards.
Inkscape is a free Lightroom alternative suitable for creating artistic and technical images. Inkscape is used primarily for basic photo post processing, designing logos and banners and to cope with any task related to vector images. You may zoom or visualize them with different resolutions without quality loss.
Inkscape supports the Scalable Vector Graphics standard and the full kit of tools for conversion, complex tasks and rendering with high resolution. An obvious drawback is a small number of tools for image editing and color correction.
IrfanView is a powerful image editor and organizer with excellent support for RAW and compressed file formats. This free alternative to Lightroom has a rather outdated graphical interface, but it still remains intuitive. The biggest advantages of IrfanView are convenient batch image editing, so you can process several hundred photos within an hour, and one of the best tools for image cataloging. The photo editor gives you absolute control over your photos – you can edit metadata, rename files in batches and add tags.
If you choose this free alternative to Adobe Lightroom, you get a lot of tools for color correction and basic picture editing – shadow adjustment, balancing tones, curves, elimination of small defects with the help of brushes and other useful features. IrfanView is suitable for both beginners and professional photographers. The most noticeable shortcoming is that some tools have a slow response time and have to be improved.
Chasys Draw IES is more than just an alternative to Lightroom. This is a complete package for image editing, designed for professional use. In addition to basic photo editing functions, you can also use it to capture still images or video from your desktop, create icons and cursors, make time-lapse animation, convert images in a batch mode and design your own illustrations from scratch.
Chasys Draw IES RAW-Photo may not be as intuitive as other RAW image editors, but it gives you an exceptional degree of manual control. You can adjust red, blue and green curves, as well as adjust white balance, sharpness, contrast, etc. Chasys Draw IES supports unprocessed files from all popular camera manufacturers. Chasys Draw IES Lightroom equivalent has only one disadvantage – a trivial outdated interface, which has not been redesigned for a long time. But you will be focused on image editing, not viewing its design.
If you are a Lightroom and Photoshop lover, Capture One Pro combines all strong points of these two image editing applications. It is powerful among alternatives to Lightroom in that it allows for professional image editing and deep color correction, for example, working with layers and masks, brushes and more. Likewise, it should be mentioned that it is integrated into Phase ONE cameras, and if you are a lucky owner of such a device, you may use it completely free of charge.
As for the drawbacks, this photo editing application requires many resources and a good PC configuration. Capture One Pro has an interface that is rather complex for beginners, but it is fully customizable.
Affinity Photo is an image editor with powerful tools and a convenient interface. It may be a handy alternative to Lightroom offering really useful functions. The image editor has a lot of options for color correction and image editing. Furthermore, it features a real-time display function that allows for previewing the results before the tool is applied.
Apart from a number of image editing modules, you may use Affinity Photo as a drawing tool. The editor offers a lot of advanced brushes that may be modified. You may also find ready-made brushes available at the FixThePhoto store, upload them into the image editor and use them effectively. The only thing that this software is missing is an image organizer.
AlienSkin Exposure has integrated image control functions as well as photo enhancing ones, though its control system is a hybrid of a browser and a catalog. Its interface and working process are common for Lightroom users. On the one hand, this Lightroom equivalent does not use the catalog approach, so it is quick and simple. But on the other hand, it lacks complex organization control provided by a catalog.
The AlienSkin team has been working on effects and plug-ins for quite a while. Today, they introduced Exposure X3, along with an extensive collection of presets and film emulations as a result of their work. Licensing is done according to the average purchase price, and there are versions for Windows and Mac. Finally, you should know that work with RAW files is limited by the rather slow import of such files.
The latest version of Skylum Luminar has an integrated image control library. There are versions for Mac and Windows and also a free trial version. As for the drawbacks, I should mention that the photo editor processes several pictures rather slowly. Perhaps, it will be improved in the future because this function is comparatively new.
In case you are looking for a worthy alternative to Lightroom offering analogous tools, DxO OpticsPro is a good option. It has a range of functions, also similar to Capture One, and provides considerable support for quick settings. The photo editor has a simple customizable interface. Tools are similar to Lightroom and focused primarily on color correction: shadows, exposure, layer masks, brushes, various presets, effects and filters.
Due to its control simplicity, it is suitable both for professionals and enthusiasts. As for its drawbacks, it should be mentioned that OpticsPro has a weakly-developed catalog system and brushes don’t offer much customization.
ON1 Photo RAW is the best software for image editing that combines Lightroom simplicity and Capture One PRO tools. This alternative to Lightroom features relatively powerful tools that allow for correcting image defects, performing color editing and photo retouching. The interface seems to be rather complicated but it is really simple and clear, even for beginners since it offers a smart support system.
Like all Lightroom alternatives presented here, ON1 Photo RAW has some disadvantages. Unfortunately, the photo preview and export in background mode are not very fast.
ACDSee is a good Lightroom equivalent for basic picture editing developed by ACD Systems. It is targeted at displaying and controlling big image collections. ACDSee Photo Studio is positioned as a semi-professional application for image preview, picture editing and publication of digital pictures.
Moreover, this application offers direct access to files and folders with an option to update content in real-time mode. It saves your time spent on image import into a separate library. The biggest drawback is the price. Despite the number of functions and tools for image editing, the cost puts a lot of users off.
If your computer or laptop has a weak configuration and you need a powerful graphics editor comparable to Adobe Lightroom, the Pixlr app will be an excellent alternative for you. This notionally-free photo editor was designed for browsers, so you only need Flash Player and a reliable internet connection to use it. Upload your photos, and you will get access to the interface, that slightly resembles Photoshop: masks and layers, clone stamps, brushes, text editing, photo defect removal, filters, effects and many others.
Besides, this Lightroom free alternative supports the RAW file format. However, you must remember that if the file size is more than 20 MB, the image editor can work with some delays. Unfortunately, the Pixlr Mac photo editor does not support batch image processing.
Ribbet is an online Lightroom alternative with a fairly simple graphic interface and powerful tools. You can use this program for both basic image editing and color correction. This is one of the best online Lightroom alternatives that allows you to fix minor flaws, work with text, brushes, curves, masks and layers.
In addition, Ribbet has a fairly powerful function for organizing and managing libraries and files. Despite its strong points, you may be disappointed as it doesn’t support RAW files and many tools are limited in the free version. Still, the functions and features of this photo editor in free access are enough for basic photo editing if you work with JPEG files.
PicMonkey is one of the best online photo editors that can be used as an alternative to Canva or Lightroom. The photo editor has all necessary functions for work with photos: photo editing, storage, organization of files in the repository, the design of various projects, banners and logos.
I really like the integration of the HUB tab, which includes Cloud storage and a convenient catalog. You can’t perform professional color correction using this free Lightroom alternative, but its functionality and capabilities are quite enough for the basic tasks: exposure, shadows, brushes, masks and layers, curves, color balance and much more. But PicMonkey also has several minuses. This program does not support RAW files, and many tools are limited in free access.