Verdict: 4.5 stars Perspective Efex is a really nice addition to the DxO Nik Collection 3. It offers geometric perspective, distortion and tilt-shift corrections in a simple, user-friendly interface.
Life after Photoshop software reviews
Choosing the right software isn't easy and you often have to try quite a few different applications to find the ones that suit you. We're all looking for different things, and quite often a single piece of software won't do everything that we need.
Some people simply want a Photoshop replacement without the subscription payments, some want an image cataloguing tool that can also carry out photo enhancements, some primarily want an image effects tool for crafting a very particular 'look'. Most of us want a bit of all of these things.
• Always download the trial version if there is one. My best guess at what photographers need is not necessarily right for you.
These reviews are designed not just to see whether the software out there is any good or not, but to explain exactly what it does and how it might fit into your workflow.
I don't review every program out there, only those which I personally consider add something significant to the image-editing process. There are some notable and quite possibly very popular programs not in my review list but that's because – and I don't want to upset any publishers out there – I don't think they're different enough, interesting enough or just plain good enough.
Verdict: 5 stars The Nik Collection is an evergreen plug-in suite that’s as fresh, varied and exciting now as when it was first launched a decade ago. The new Perspective Efex plug-in is a major bonus and the new ‘non-destructive workflow’ is rather clever.
Verdict: 4.5 stars Other programs might have the edge individually for cataloguing tools, RAW processing, analog effects or reality distortion, but no other program brings all those things together like this one. Do try it before you buy it to make sure you like its style, though.
Verdict: 4.5 stars Exposure X5 is still the go-to tool for recreating the atmosphere and depth of analog film. Its presets are one of its best assets. But Exposure X5 is a modern image-editing tool too, with a straightforward but highly effective image browsing and cataloguing system.
Choosing the best image editing software is complicated, not just because there are so many alternatives, but because they all do different things. It all depends on what you look for most in your photo editing software. Here are ten programs with ten different approaches.
Verdict: 5 stars Capture One just keeps on getting better. The new basic color editor, improved high dynamic range options and numerous other tweaks are all worthwhile and well thought out additions to a program that’s already at the top of its game.
Verdict: 4.5 stars DxO PhotoLab is the new name for the program previously known as DxO PhotoLab. Its legendary RAW processing and optical corrections are made even better now with its very good local adjustment tools.
Verdict: 4.5 stars Luminar 4 is an unusual and constantly evolving program. Increasingly, it’s specialising in altered, enhanced and augmented reality effects – and these are exceptionally effective. Luminar also has a full selection of basic photo editing tools like curves, cropping, layers and retouching. It’s a very versatile and effective photo editor.
Verdict: 4.5 stars Skylum Luminar Flex is the ‘plug-in’ version of Luminar 3, so why is it being sold separately? Find out why, and how this could be the better choice.
Verdict: 3 stars Sharpener Pro’s output sharpening tools are a reminder that images need to be optimised to look their best on different printers, and at different sizes. However, its ‘capture sharpening’ tools feel like they’re just a little too late in the workflow, when most of us would apply sharpening during RAW processing, or in the ‘host’ application used to launch Sharpener Pro.