Photo editing software has come a long way in the past few years. There are a plethora of such photo enhancers available today that are able to help you push your images to the maximum. Whether you enjoy creative editing or prefer something more subtle, photo editors can help you achieve the look you want for your photos before you share them online or print them for your clients.
However, with so many image enhancers available online for different print points, which ones are really worth your time and money? This can be often confusing for users as different photo editors promise different things. Lucky for you, we have here a list of some of the best photo enhancers you can use in 2019 and 2020.
The first on our list is Skylum’s Luminar. This fairly new image enhancer has made quite a lot of waves in recent years as it has not only become a favorite among people new to photo editing but has also replaced the likes of Lightroom for many professionals. Luminar has achieved this status thanks to its intuitive interface, an amazing array of tools, unique presets and styles, among other things. With Luminar, everything you want from a RAW photo enhancer is at your disposal. From using layers for flexibility to non-destructive editing for every image, you can do a lot of advanced work with Luminar.
Add to that the very low price of $89 that you have to pay just once, and Luminar becomes a formidable rival to many established photo editors in the professional photography market.
Lightroom, of course, is one of the most famous RAW photo enhancers being used by professionals today. The main reason for this is that the software has existed for a long time and has only gotten better over the years. People also use Lightroom for its excellent compatibility with Photoshop and the fact that it also has a very powerful photo management system. Lightroom is also easy to use thanks to a simple and user-friendly interface where you can use sliders to adjust various settings like exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, white balance, and more.
However, the biggest problem with using Lightroom if you don’t already have it is that you have to buy a subscription model whereby you have to pay $9.99 every month. You do get Lightroom and Photoshop as part of this bundle but still, over a few years’ time this amount adds up to a whole lot.
Photolemur is an inexpensive image enhancer that is aimed at those users who don’t want to spend ages fiddling with settings to make their images look good. The software uses advanced AI capabilities to notice areas in your image that can be enhanced and then just enhances those areas. This kind of flexibility and ease of use can’t be found in any other software which puts Photolemur in a very unique category. It may not have all the advanced editing features you’d find in other programs but it does do something which many others can’t; it automatically makes your images look great.
You can get Photolemur for a low price of $35 and utilize its AI features when you just don’t have the time to tweak your photos before posting them online.
4. Apple Photos
For people using Apple computers, they have access to one of the best free image enhancers out there. Apple Photos is preinstalled on macOS and is a very capable photo editor. It can not only sort your images but can also enhance them to quite a good degree. Adjusting exposure, contrast, colors, highlights, and shadows is not a big deal with Apple Photos.
The real power of Apple Photos, however, lies in its ability to work with various plugins. These plugins, depending on which one you choose, can turn Apple Photos into a RAW editor, and HDR editor, and more. However, do note that you have to pay for these plugins from different manufacturers and this payment is sometimes the cost of the full program.
Corel makes a very powerful photo enhancer by the name of PaintShop Pro. This program has all the features you’d want from a go-to photo editor for your day to day needs. The two pretty great tools that PaintShop Pro has are SmartClone and Refine Brush. The former lets you easily clone parts of images to come up with something unique and the latter is great when you’re trying to make selective masks and need to refine them to your editing needs.
Corel PaintShop Pro costs $79.99 and you can also grab it for lesser on sales if you’re lucky enough to catch one.
If you are looking to increase the capabilities of Photoshop and Lightroom with the addition of a set of 7 excellent and highly acclaimed plugins that deliver stellar results no matter what kind of photography you do, then the Nik Collection 2 by DxO is something you need to take a serious look at. The plugins contained within this collection are extremely high quality and offer instant improvements to photos. The seven plugins included are Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, Viveza, Analog Efex Pro, HDR Efex Pro, Sharpener Pro, and Dfine.
You can buy the Nik Collection 2 along with a copy of DxO PhotoLab 2 Essential which is a powerful photo enhancer itself, for $149. This is quite a high price but if you’re willing to spend a premium on these plugins, you won’t really regret your decision.
Fotor is a free image enhancer that lives and works in your browser. It’s a fairly simple app that is easy to use and can help you make quick changes to your photos in a fun way. You have access to many tools like exposure control, saturation, and warmth while also being able to use fun and creative filters to instantly change the look of your photos. Fotor makes it very easy to make quick photo edits before you share your memories with the world via social media.
ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate is a premium and high-quality image enhancer that can rival the very best programs in the world of photo editing. It is very capable when it comes to RAW processing and non-destructive editing. On top of that, it also brings with it some extremely useful features like focus stacking and the ability to create HDR photos. This is something that makes the software a little unique as not all photo editors allow you to make true HDRs. And if that’s not enough, ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate also can also manage your photos, which is a feature every Lightroom rival must have.
So, if it’s all that great then why isn’t it a household name? The reason may be its price of $224.98. While that price is not as high as that of Capture One – a program that a lot of people do use regularly – it’s still a little too much for what the program offers.
Speaking of Capture One Pro, this is a software that has been hailed by many professionals around the world as a true alternative to Lightroom for professional photo editing work. Capture One Pro has all the features you’d want, like selective editing, in-depth color corrections and manipulations, high-quality presets, strong noise reduction, and built-in lens corrections. It also creates stellar results when it comes to exporting RAW files into jpegs.
However, at a price of $349, it’s not a software everyone can enjoy. But if you have a Sony or Fujifilm camera, then you can actually use a very powerful Express version of the software for free! And if that’s not enough, you can buy the full software for a much lower price. This is because of the partnership Capture One has with Sony and Fujifilm, which is great for the end-user.
10. Aurora HDR
If you’re into landscape photography or architectural photography, and you want to have a great HDR editing software in your arsenal, then look no further than Aurora HDR 2019. This is one of, if not the most famous HDR editors in the world. It brings a lot of advanced features to the table in an easy-to-use package that’s not expensive either. The new version of Aurora HDR comes with a Quantum HDR Engine that is powered by AI to make it easy to create great HDR photos without problems like ghosting. Features like HDR Denoise, HDR Clarity, and HDR Smart Structure make it possible to develop an HDR image that’s free of artifacts and looks natural.
You can get Aurora HDR 2019 for a price of $99 and can use it as a plugin to different photo editors as well if you so wish.
11. Microsoft Photos
If you own a Windows 10 computer then you have probably noticed that your photos open for preview in an app named ‘Photos’. If you look carefully, the app has an editing mode which is great for adjusting the exposure, colors, and details of your photos in a quick and very easy way. Photos has a sleek interface and it is very easy to get around using it. Other than visual tweaks, you can do some fun things here as well like adding 3D effects to your photos and even draw on top of them for some creative work or just to have some fun with your memories.
Photos also comes with built-in presets that are very nice if you want to do something instantly without having to fiddle around with settings yourself. All in all, it’s a strong image enhancer that doesn’t require a single dime to be paid for its use.
12. ON1 Photo RAW
Another premium photo enhancer that can be bought for a low price, ON1 Photo RAW is aimed at professional photographers who shoot in RAW and want to get some advanced tools in order to make their photos look their best. The editor has a lot of features that allow for non-destructive editing in a quick way. Some other tools like HDR and focus stacking make is easy to bring out much more detail from your photos. With ON1 Photo RAW, you can also edit selective parts of a photo in order to get into really detailed editing.
For a price of $79.99, you get a powerful, high-performance image enhancer that excels in RAW photo editing. Some features might not be as strong as you would like them to be but it is still a good buy despite some minor shortcomings.
13. Affinity Photo
If you want a photo enhancer that has Photoshop-like capabilities like the use of brushes, masks, and more to create digital artworks out of photos, then Affinity Photo is a very good option that doesn’t require a monthly payment like Adobe’s products. You can edit your photos in a lot of detail and in many ways with Affinity Photo. You can even edit RAW files in quite a lot of detail which is something even Photoshop doesn’t do too well.
The only thing missing from Affinity Photo is the ability to manage photos like Luminar and Lightroom. If you don’t need that, however, then Affinity Photo is quite a steal at $49.99.
No matter what kind of photo enhancer you’ve been looking for, there’s something on this list for you. From free options to high premium ones, this list contains some of the most famous image enhancers out there. Always remember to check out the free trials of paid editors first so that you’re sure of your choice before you pay any money to buy the program.