Verdict: 4 stars Lightroom has become a standard tool for a large number of photographers and it does streamline the organisation and editing of large numbers of photos. But while it’s powerful and effective, its raw processing is not the best and its organisational system can feel quite awkward.
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.
Which is best for processing RAW files, DxO PhotoLab, Lightroom or Capture One? Here’s a set of eight image comparisons that aims to find out.
What is the best image cataloguing software right now? Lightroom? Not necessarily. Here are six different programs which offer six distinctly different approaches to image organisation.
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 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. The biggest news in this version, though, is the new ON1 360 service.
Verdict: 4 stars: ON1 360 is a new add-on cloud sync service for ON1 Photo RAW that offers similar online sync options to Lightroom and Creative Cloud. It’s different, but is it actually better?
Verdict: 5 stars Analog Efex Pro2 goes way beyond most analog photography filters, offering not just film styles, grain effects and borders, but creative vignetting, bokeh, lens blur, lens distortion, double-exposures, motion blur and more.
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.
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 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.