Traditional photo editing is ‘destructive’. That means every adjustment you make permanently changes the pixels in the photo and there’s no way back unless you’ve saved a copy of the original and you’re willing to start again. ‘Non-destructive’ editing is fully reversible. You can go back and undo or redo all of your editing work at any point in the future. Naturally, there’s a catch
A RAW converter is software that processes RAW files from a camera and converts them into regular image files. Not all RAW converters are the same. The closest analogy is the different developers used to process film. Examples include Adobe Camera Raw, Capture One Pro and DxO PhotoLab.
Most serious photographers prefer RAW files to JPEGs. They take more time and storage, but the payback is greater quality and flexibility. It’s not a one-sided argument – JPEGs have some advantages which are obvious, and some which are not – but here are six important reasons why RAW files are the way to go […]
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.
It’s fine for Phase One to say the Capture One 12.1 X-Trans processing has been improved, but can you actually see the difference? (It was pretty good already.)
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.