No matter which level of post-processing or graphic design knowledge you have, there’s a photo editing software for everyone. We’ve selected the Best Photo Editing Software in 2021 for you to choose from. Each software was picked based on value, ease of use, quality of results, and overall versatility.
There are countless editing programs in the market today, so that’s why we’ve compiled our top list of photo software that may help you narrow down the options based on your level of experience, budget, and editing needs. Without further ado, let’s dive right into the list!
If we had to describe Skylum Luminar, then it’s a hybrid between Photoshop and Lightroom. Skylum launched its newest software in 2019, Skylum Luminar 3. This newest edition is faster than the 2018 version, and now offers a digital asset management (DAM) system for easy sharing and management of media.
It also includes new AI-powered features such as The Sky Enhancer and the Accent AI Filter, both designed to process your images beautifully and quickly with the built-in adjustment sliders. These AI features make processing big, raw files a much faster experience, boosting colors vividly and balancing the exposure surprisingly accurately.
We were impressed by the level of controls while using the editor. The panels and controls are intuitive and placed efficiently for quick edits.
Price: Packages Start at $69
- DAM System
- New AI-powered features
- Intuitive and Easy-to-use
- Great for RAW file processing
Luminar 3 is the perfect choice for photographers who like shooting in RAW and are looking for an easy way to organize your photos. The new and improved AI capabilities make Luminar 3 a strong competitor to Adobe Lightroom with its affordable price tag. Another great plus is that you only have to pay a one-time fee for the entire software and features, unlike Adobe’s monthly subscriptions.
This list wouldn’t be complete without including one of the best photo editing softwares in the world. Adobe Photoshop has been around since 1990 when it was first released. This software has come a long way and is still one of the most popular editing software choices among photographers, graphic designers, and artists around the globe.
Adobe Photoshop CC is only available with the Creative Cloud subscription, but the Monthly Photography Plan’s pricing won’t break the bank. The Photoshop CC version has new improvements and updates that will level up the Photoshop game more than ever.
Price: Starting at $9.99/month
- New Live Preview of Blend Modes
- Content-Aware Fill
- New Color Wheel Plugin
- Lock Workspace
New improvements to existing features include the Content-Aware Fill, allowing artists to fill in any objects or shapes seamlessly into their artwork. This new feature is powered by Adobe Sensei technology, allowing you to select your source pixels to scale, rotate, or mirror each other. Other attractive features include the Frame Tool and added Blend Mode previews.
The Live Blend Mode gives you the freedom to see previews of various blend modes instantly while scrolling through the options. The update also comes with the Coolorus 2.5.14 Color Wheel, a new color wheel plugin that will improve the artist’s painting workflow with limitless color variations. Another update includes the ability to lock your workspace to prevent moving any panels.
Released by Skylum, Photolemur 3 features a drag-and-drop style editor that is completely automatic and AI-powered. This subscription-free service can be used on both Mac OS and Windows. You’ll want to consider using Photolemur 3 if you are just starting out in photo processing, or don’t have the skill and time for manual photo editing.
This software allows RAW image processing as well as batch uploading and editing. Similarly to Luminar 3, this application is AI-powered with the goal for users to attain high-quality photos without manual editing. The intelligent imaging software can automatically detect and recognize different shapes, objects, people, and places so it can apply the best edits for your images. You can choose from 14 different AI technologies to process your photos.
Price: $35 Single License / $55 Family License (up to 5 users)
- Powerful AI Capabilities
- Ease of Use
- RAW and Cloud-based Processing
- Automatic Face Enhancement
Other improvements in Photolemur 3 include Automatic Face Enhancement, Photolemur Styles, Export to SmugMug, and faster processing time. If you are looking for a minimal photo editing software that can bulk process your photos beautifully, then Photolemur 3 is a competitive option.
Are you a casual or amateur photographer just looking to make basic edits to your photos? Fotor may just be your best option. This application is perfect for beginners with little knowledge or experience with photo processing. It is both an online photo editor and collage maker. You also have the option to purchase Fotor as a downloadable copy for convenient offline editing.
The structure of Fotor is very simple. You can edit, retouch, and make a collage for your photos. The editing interface is minimal and is best for light retouching or enhancements. The online version does not support RAW files, so you’ll have to buy the offline version to unlock this functionality. Hence, it’s best to use the online editor for your JPEGs.
Price: Basic Edition is FREE / Pro Edition $8.99 per month
- Online and Offline Editing
- Highly Intuitive and Easy-to-use
- Built-in Collage Maker
- Graphic Design Capabilities
In addition to the AI capabilities, Photolemur also features cloud-based batch editing, making it extremely easy for photographers to bulk upload their work and edit all their photos with the powerful AI functionalities.
Fotor contains all the basic editing features such as Brightness, Contrast, Sharpness, and Saturation. The Effect Panel inside the editor has over one hundred readily made options for filters and customizations. Overall, this is a very simple and easy application to use if you are just looking for basic editing. The interface is smooth and easy to understand, making it one of the best simple editors for photos and graphic design.
Similarly to Fotor, PicMonkey is also an online photo editor where you can add in collages, text, and many different effects to your photos. This also includes graphic design and basic retouching. PicMonkey is used by many beginners and amateurs due to its ease of use and affordable price tag, making it the perfect editor for influencers, bloggers, and Instagram users.
The main features include a built-in text functionality, overlays, and touch-ups. You can easily create engaging and beautiful graphics by adding text to your images. Select from PicMonkey’s font book, which comes with many different font styles. You also have the option to download your own fonts into the editor.
Price: Starting at $12.99/month
- Simple Photo Editor
- Touch-up Tool
- Tons of graphics and textures
- A Dedicated Font Book
- Collage Maker
PicMonkey also comes with a huge collection of graphic overlays for endless design freedom and creations. Lastly, the touch-up feature is specially built for portraits, family photos, and even selfies. You can quickly “touch up” photos using the teeth whitener, lip tint, skin smoothing brush, and eye brightening tools.
This free and open-source software started in the early 1990s and is still widely used today by professional photographers, graphic designers, and illustrators.
GIMP is available on multiple operating systems, including Mac OS, Windows, and Linux. This image manipulation software is similar to Adobe Photoshop, but may not be as intuitive and easy to use. Because it is an open-source software, there is a strong community of designers and artists who have transformed it into a more modern and advanced tool for image manipulation in recent years.
- Open-source Photo Editor
- Graphic Design Elements
- Supports many file formats
- Customizable User Interface
- Digital Enhancement Tools
GIMP supports plenty of image formats such as GIF, RAW, TIFF, TXT, and PDF. It is also customizable meaning you can easily add or remove menu items and icons to fit your working style. The toolset is robust and requires some graphic design knowledge to use it effectively. Some of the design tools include curves, retouching, dodge, burn, and offset. GIMP is a solid choice for graphic designers and photographers who are looking for a free and powerful editing software that’s comparable to Photoshop.
Adobe Lightroom CC remains one of the top photo editing softwares for photographers and, the latest version does come with a few new features and enhancements. You can now remove shading using the Flat-Field Correction tool, smoothen details with the Texture Slider, and an increased support for new cameras and lenses.
The Flat-Field Correction tool allows you to remove or reduce shading or lens cast from your photos. This is a great tool to use for when vignettes occur or when certain lenses create unwanted light casts in your images. The new Texture Slider gives sharpness or details to hair, skin, and other textures. The slider allows you to smoothen or retain finer details depending on your needs. This tool is a must for portrait and wedding photographers and is great addition to the latest Lightroom version.
Price: From $9.99/month
- Modern and Professional Interface
- Flat-Field Correction Tool
- New Texture Slider
- Mobile Integration
Other enhancements include being able to import photos from the ‘Files’ section instead of the usual ‘Device’ section. This enhancement seems to work better than having the photos appear under ‘Device’ and keeps your photos more organized. You can also connect Lightroom with mobile apps for extra convenience.
This photo editing software is easy to use but also features professional tools for serious photographers and designers. If you’re looking for a subscription-free software that still allows you to design and edit your photos professionaly, PaintShop Pro packs a punch.
Beginners will appreciate the user-friendly interface that PaintShop offers. There are tons of resources and tools that photographers and designers of all levels can use. Some of these features include the ability to add text your images, with over 99 different filter options
It also comes with basic tools, such as Brightness, Highlight/Shadow, Red Eye Removal Tool, Blemish Remover, Skin Smoother, Teeth/Skin Enhancers, and even a 360-degree editor where you can stitch your photos together to create a virtual tour.
- User-friendly Interface
- 99+ Creative Filters
- Built-in Graphic Design Tools
- Face-detection Technology
PaintShop Pro serves as a photo editor as well as a graphic design software. You can use the built-in vector tools to edit your vector and raster images easily. There are options to automate your edits with a click of a button, and you can also correct lens distortion. PaintShop Pro also supports batch uploads and processing, making it an extremely versatile and efficient software for photographers.
This powerful editing software is affordable and offers many tools that photographers and graphic designers will benefit from. Its intuitive design and functionality make it a strong competitor to other photo editing software.
Are you searching for a powerful photo editing software but aren’t ready to commit to Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom? ACDSee is packed with a myriad of features that can transform your photos instantly at a very reasonable price tag. You will gain lots of useful tools and capabilities in this single purchase software.
The latest version of ACDSee comes with new, exciting features such as Facial Recognition, Develop Brush tool, Luminosity Selection, and an Auto Advance function so you can move on to the next image faster when inputing the image’s metadata. This program also includes a photo managing capability so you can quickly edit photos and organize them effectively.
In ACDSee, you will find many tools that are similar to the ones found in Photoshop. One of the biggest features of ACDSee is that it offers adjustment layers, making it much more professional for serious photographers and photo editors. You can create composite images with adjustment layers and work on more complex edits with the tools provided by ACDSee.
Price: Starting at $29.95
- Facial Recognition
- AI-based Management
- Processes RAW Files
- Edits with Layers
This all-in-one editing software combines professional tools comparable to Adobe Photoshop and robust photo managing tools that will streamline every photographer’s workflow. It is available on both Windows and Mac OS.
10 Capture One
Capture One 12 is the latest version of this high-quality image editing software, and it doesn’t disappoint. There are updated features, more masking options, improved plug-ins, and best of all, it’s faster than the previous version. What makes Capture One stand out from other competitive editing software is its customizable menu system. The latest version has updated menu icons, making the entire interface look sleeker and more enjoyable to use. You can easily make your own keyboard shortcuts with more than 500 customizable command options.
The latest update also features Intelligent Adjustments Copying, a huge time-saver for those doing skin retouching or cropping since the software will automatically detect changes. Plug-ins have been added to Capture One opening up the opportunity to share and collaborate with other artists and photographers with third-party extensions.
Price: $20/month subscription or starting at $299
- Customizable Workspace
- Efficient Photo Management
- Intelligent Adjustments Copying
- Advanced Plug-ins
- Uses Adjustment Layers
Capture One allows users to fully control their images with precise local adjustment layers. You can apply up to 16 layers and utilize various brush options inside the editor. Experiment with specific tools such as Radial Gradient, Linear Gradient, Luminosity Masking, and Grey Scale Mask.
This software is packed with premium features and is mainly aimed at professional photographers. It is commonly compared to Adobe Lightroom, but its customizable menu, powerful catalog based workflow, and advanced local adjustment tools make it an excellent choice for serious photographers.
Not a graphic designer? No problem. Snappa can save you a lot of time with their easy-to-use online graphics editor. In just a few clicks, you can get a head start with ready-made templates and free high-resolution stock photos. Attract potential clients and promote your photography brand by creating visually striking graphics with Snappa’s powerful graphic design features, including 200+ fonts, 100,000+ vector/shapes, and tons of photo effects.
Snappa has a fully-featured graphic editor that’s incredibly easy to use. You don’t need design experience to use this program because it utilizes a drag and drop style editor. You can use your own photos, or select from a massive library of over one million photos. All visual assets are royalty-free and licensed for commercial use.
Price: FREE / $10/month for PRO / $20/month for Teams
- Easy Graphic Editor
- Wide Range of Templates
- Customized Fonts
- Affordable Pricing
- Collaborative Platform
You can quickly and easily share your work with clients, colleagues, friends, and family members with Snappa’s well-designed sharing system. This is one of the best graphic software programs to use if you do not have a strong design background but want to create attractive graphics for personal or professional use.