12 Best Lightroom Alternatives in 2021 (Paid & Free Software!)

12 Best Lightroom Alternatives in 2021 (Paid & Free Software!)
12 Best Lightroom Alternatives in 2021 (Paid & Free Software!)_615c5ec258e4e.png

12 Best Lightroom Alternatives in 2021 (Paid & Free Software!)

Adobe products are the industry standard for photographers all around the world. Have you ever wondered, though, what the best Adobe Lightroom alternatives are?

Lightroom is photo editing software that processes your RAW files and JPEG images. It is user-friendly, holds all your images in its library, and meets most of your editing needs.

Yet, there are other options if you are looking for free Lightroom alternatives. Perhaps you want to try a different photo editing software.

An open laptop on the ground with Lightroom software open on the screen with other items

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Why People Look for Lightroom Alternatives

Adobe Lightroom allows you to do a fantastic amount of things when editing photos.

It is a RAW-image converter and lets you see all your images in one handy area. And it also comes with presets and allows you to edit your photo in many different ways.

But some users might find Lightroom impractical due to its file handling system or lack of layers. Others may not be ready to invest so much in paid software.

If you are looking for a cheaper or free Lightroom alternative to suits all your needs, you are in the right place. We have gathered the 12 best Lightroom alternatives for you to consider.

12 Best Lightroom Alternatives

1. RawTherapee (Free)

Windows | OS X | Linux

RawTherapee is a high-end editing tool that serves as an Adobe Lightroom alternative. It allows you to send your processed images to other programs for further editing.

RawTherapee also has excellent compatibility. It works with all kinds of DSLR camera RAW files.

It is non-destructive, meaning the users can retrieve the original file at the click of a button. It allows you to see your images immediately, not after clicking through each one by one.

Fujifilm camera users like using this program, as their RAW files can be challenging to work with. If you work with Fujifilm files you will know the problem.

If you zoom in, you will find worm-like artefacts that make the photo look extremely sharp. RawTherapee processes these files well avoiding this issue.

Where this program falls short is that it will not sort your images into folders for you. You need to do it manually or find another way.

This raw photo editor is one of the best free Lightroom alternatives.

Screenshot of lightroom alternative RawTherapee software's interface with a a close-up image of strawberries

2. Capture One Pro (Paid and Free)

Windows | OS X

Capture One is a photo editing program by the camera company Phase One. If there is one program to use as a Lightroom alternative, then Capture One would be it.

It is one of the best Lightroom alternatives out there. This software is a pro, image-editing tool.

Capture One might be challenging to navigate at first, but it has lots of unique features.

It is a fantastic Lightroom alternative for professional photographers. But it is also good for beginners who are willing to invest the time to learn the user interface.

Capture One presents your editing tools in a visually appealing manner. These tools are extensive and impressive.

It offers a vast feature set, including tools like Magic Brush, Speed Edit, Dehaze, and Style Brushes. But most users won’t use all the options available and might find it overkill.

One massive benefit to Capture One is the ability to import Lightroom catalogues. It’s great if some of your selected catalogues need tweaking.

And if you get sick of Lightroom, your time and energy are not wasted setting up the catalogues. You can also import presets in Capture One, and it is compatible with most RAW images

The software also comes in a free ‘Express’ version for Fuji and Sony camera users. It’s a great, pared-down, free Lightroom alternative.

Capture One Pro has a free trial available. And you can pay a monthly subscription or license the software.

Screenshot of lightroom alternative Capture One Pro software's interface

3. Darktable (Free)

Windows | OS X | Linux

Darktable is one of the other free Lightroom alternatives available for download.

This software supports most RAW files. Also, it enables you to keep the original photo and revert to it easily.

It has a range of exporting possibilities. And you can export images straight to Facebook and Flickr or send them directly in an email. It is a great addition to a chaotic workflow.

Some of Darktable’s best features are its library management options, free tutorials, and RAW processing for over 400 cameras.

Screenshot of lightroom alternative Capture One Pro software's interface of various photos

4. DxO Photo Lab (Paid)

Windows | OS X

Photo Lab by DxO is another one of the best Lightroom alternatives on our list. This software is the third professional editing program behind Lightroom and Capture One.

What we like is that the editing tools are all in one place. This feature saves time trying to find specific editing tools often found all over the place in other software.

The interface is easy to navigate and very responsive. Its best tool is noise reduction, which is top rated.

This free Lightroom alternative comes with the Nik Collection Plugins. It’s a fantastic bonus of 7 professional and unique preset for your images.

It also comes with some special features like Lightroom. One of them is the Automatic Repair tool, which copies the Spot Removal tool.

You can also do masking, and it has good sharpening tools and a wide range of presets.

DxO Photo Lab has a free trial available.

Screenshot of lightroom alternative DxO Photo Lab software's interface with a lush green landscape photo of a mountain valley

5. Affinity Photo (Paid)

Windows | OS X

Affinity Photo comes with a large set of editing tools. They are designed for creative and professional photographers. It allows simple adjustments and full-blown multi-layered compositions.

Correcting and enhancing images is possible. You can use editing tools like Levels, Curves, or White Balance. After using these tools, the software allows you to switch back to the original image easily.

Affinity Photo also provides an advanced lens correction system. And it comes as well with a great noise reduction tool.

What makes this great software are its extras. HDR merging, panorama stitching, focus stacking and batch processing are all possible.

Affinity Photo is not one of the free Lightroom alternatives out there. But most of the significant updates come with no extra price.

There is a free trial allowing you to test drive the software beforehand.

Screenshot of lightroom alternative Affinity Photo software's interface with a picture of a pretzel-shaped ampersand with cheese on top

6. ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2022 (Paid)

Windows | OS X app Photo Studio for Mac 7

The next one on our list of best Lightroom alternatives is ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate.

This photo editing software is perfect for processing and managing images. It comes with several tools for finding, organising, and sharing your pictures.

It is perfect if you work with RAW files. The software can process all RAW formats from the leading camera manufacturers.

It is one of the Lightroom alternatives that has all editing tools in one place. This makes image editing easier and speeds up your workflow.

Some of this software’s unique features are its channel selection and filtering. And it comes with tools like Improved High-Dynamic Range and Focus Stacking.

In addition, the software provides non-destructive editing. You can edit as much as you want and always be able to go back to the original photo.

This software is only available for Windows.

But there is a related app for OS X from the same creators called Photo Studio for Mac 7. Most features are similar, but it doesn’t come with a layered editor.

Screenshot of lightroom alternative ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate software's interface with a dark landscape photo

7. Skylum Luminar 4 (Budget Option)

Skylum Luminar is one of the best Lightroom alternatives. And it is an affordable software option.

This software comes with valuable artificial intelligence (AI) features. They are simplified options to get great results in one click.

One of these features is the AI Portrait Enhancer. This tool helps to retouch a portrait photo. It allows you to fix the skin and whiten the teeth of the subject in seconds.

Another great feature is the AI Structure tool. This tool allows you to adjust the detail and clarity variably based on the subject.

Artificial Intelligence helps to avoid overprocessing people, modifying only the objects around them.

While Skylum Luminar 4 is not a free Lightroom alternative, it does have a lower price compared to other apps.

Screenshot of lightroom alternative Sky Luminar software's interface with a mountain landscape photo

8. ON1 Photo RAW (Excellent Value)

Windows | OS X

ON1 Photo RAW is the perfect image processing software to keep your images organised. It processes RAW files and enables you to add effects to your pictures.

ON1 Photo RAW might not have the most straightforward interface. But it offers professional tools for photographers and advanced users.

If you have tons of pictures and struggle to manage them, this software is for you.

ON1 Photo RAW helps you browse your library with no need of importing your files. ON1 Photo RAW’s search feature allows you to locate a file by typing a keyword, date, or metadata.

This Lightroom alternative also comes with great artificial intelligence (AI) features. One of them is Sky Swap AI that allows you to replace the sky in a picture.

Another one is NoNoise AI. It is a fantastic noise-reduction software integrated into ON1 Photo RAW.

ON1 Photo RAW allows you to use Adobe Photoshop plugins without subscribing to it.

And while ON1 Photo RAW is not one of the free Lightroom alternatives, this image editing software provides excellent value for the price.

Screenshot of lightroom alternative ON1 Photo RAW software's interface with a split-screen portrait of a woman showing before and after edits

9. Exposure X6 (Paid)

Windows | OS X

Exposure X6 is excellent image editing software. It’s perfect for those users looking for a replacement for Adobe Lightroom.

This software features professional-grade photo adjustments, along with efficient design.

Its intuitive interface allows you to use all the editing tools easily. You can improve your workflow and have better results.

Exposure X6 comes with several film presets, overlays, and artistic focus effects. It is one of the best alternatives for creating artsy images.

Importing and exporting images in this software is very easy. You can import files from your computer’s internal storage or external drives.

You can also create collections within the software to quickly access your images.

Another feature we like is the ability to edit images via a cloud-based service. It comes in handy if you are editing images together with a team or work from different devices.

Exposure X6 does not need a subscription.

Screenshot of lightroom alternative Exposure X6 software's interface with an image of Florence at night

10. Lightzone (Free)

Windows | OS X | Linux

Lightzone is one of the best, free Lightroom alternatives available for download.

This software is a non-destructive photo editing tool. It supports several RAW formats and works on a layer-based system called Zone Mapping.

Thanks to this system, you can blend, manipulate and stack photo editing tools. This feature is pretty useful and is comparable to Photoshop’s layers.

Lightzone also comes with excellent black and white (B/W) photo processing. This software allows you to adjust the tones of a black-and-white photo in detail.

Compared to other software, Lightzone is very simple and lacks several features. Advanced asset management, a library of effects, or tone curves are not included.

Some users might find this simplicity an advantage. It makes it easier to learn.

Also, Lightzone has a very active forum where you will always find help from other users.

Screenshot of lightroom alternative Lightzone software's interface with a photo of a door

11. Corel AfterShot Pro (Paid)

Windows | OS X | Linux

Corel AfterShot Pro is a good alternative if you want photo editing software at a lower price. Its pricing model is a perpetual license.

AfterShot Pro offers the basic features, such as colour adjustments or blemish retouching. It also comes with some advanced features like Lens Corrections or Highlight Recovery.

This Lightroom alternative comes with non-destructive editing. It also supports a wide range of RAW file formats.

AfterShot allows you to adjust many images at once using batch processing. This feature comes in handy when you have several photos to process.

Unlike Lightroom, AfterShot Pro supports layers. And it displays all editing tools within one workspace.

Screenshot of lightroom alternative Corel AfterShot Pro sofware's interface with photos of bikes against a house

12. Apple Photos (Free with Apple Computers)

Apple Photos is one of the most accessible, free Lightroom alternatives out there. Luckily, it is free with every Apple computer.

This editing software has been through many changes and updates over the years. Nowadays, it has become a non-destructive app with advanced editing tools.

Apple Photos will make your life easier with its intuitive search options.

It also has a remarkable ability to manage your images in catalogues. If you have many Apple devices, you can store them in the app’s cloud to access them anytime.

This image editor allows you to import and edit RAW images from standalone cameras. It also processes Apple ProRAW images.

Apple Photos uses artificial intelligence to highlight the best photos. Also, it enables you to preview your ‘Live Photos’, which is not possible with Lightroom.

Unfortunately, it lacks many advanced editing tools. So this image editing software might not be the best for professional photographers.

But it is one of the free Lightroom alternatives out there with essential, valuable tools.Screenshot of lightroom alternative Apple Photos software's interface with colorful portrait of a woman

Conclusion

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to Lightroom alternatives.

It would be best if you looked at what you can afford and whether you need powerful editing tools or not. Also, use the free trials before you pay, and get the most suitable program for your needs.

We hope this post has helped you figure out the best Lightroom alternative for you, whether it’s paid or free!

Looking for more tips on Raw images? Why not check out our articles on On1 Photo Raw 2019 Review and How to Open Raw Images in Gimp Using Ufraw next!

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