Sold. In the same ilk as Raw Therapee, I also tested out another free, open-source raw developer, one simply called “darktable,” with v2.2.5 shown below. All in all, I recommend you buy Luminar 4 if you’re looking for a great Lightroom alternative and its costly subscription plan, especially if you consider ease of use and powerful one-click features important to your image editing. Each has strengths, but also weaknesses, if not outright deficiencies. The products in this post may contain affiliate links. Just about everything most photographers would ever need is here one place. Like the Pro version, Capture One Express still has exceptional Raw image rending (the best in the business if you ask me). OS: Windows and Mac. I’ve been a satisfied Creative Cloud subscriber for several years, and view the monthly fee as the cost of doing business. The answer lies in a popular product by Exposure Software (review), now in its 6th iteration. And if so, to what program. You’d be forgiven for thinking he’s using Photoshop – the edits are that intricate. With final layered Photoshop files, while some programs can read .PSD files, they usually open them just as flattened images, as ON1 warns it will do above. Also, you can’t import your Lightroom .xmp and sidecar files into Luminar – only basic camera metadata. This is to be expected with an application with this many features, but if you’re just looking for image cataloguing/adjustments and/or you want something that’s easy to learn, maybe skip this one as a lightroom alternative. For that you’d have to add ACDSee or Aftershot for a budget option. ","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"If you’re looking for something that’s powerful and feature-packed and offers similar functionality to Lightroom, our top pick is Skylum’s Luminar. ive installed XnViewMP for the moments i need exifdata and xmp files manipulation. Exposure X6 is an advanced image editing app that rivals Lightroom Classic, with powerful features, intuitive controls and ease of use, all for one affordable fee (i.e. Still, with the recent releases providing “hundreds of bug fixes, speed optimizations and raw format support improvements,” RawTherapee is many photographers’ free Lightroom-like photo editor of choice. ON1 Photo RAW is another of our favorite alternatives, and the 2021 version brings in a number of new features (see review). I mainly us Capture One (C1) and DxO along with Photoshop CS6. I feel Camera Raw/Lightroom produces results that others can only just match, if that. It’s an Open Source alternative to Lightroom that offers a range of quality features at zero cost. I’ll work on recreating this same image with the three non-Adobe programs capable of doing so – Affinity, Luminar, and ON1 Photo RAW – to see how well they do. (it’s free for personal use) Seems a bit more stable as Digikam win. These work much the same as Photoshop and inPixio, with masks, blend modes, and an easy way to merge layers. The AI available now is – AI Match, AI auto Tone and AI Quick Mask – and all work admirably. Is it just me or have we had similar features in Darktable for years? Speaking of layers, both Lr and ON1 Photo Raw have HDR and Panorama options, but ON1 also has Focus Stacking. "}},{"@type":"Question","name":"Is there an unpaid alternative to Lightroom? The others are better described as Adobe Lightroom competitors – programs that can catalog image libraries and develop raw image files, with some offering adjustment layers for correcting color, contrast, etc. It can handle just about any graphic file format, even music and video files. Pros: This capable cataloging program has good selective color and highlight/shadow recovery, and pretty smooth noise reduction. use a single slider), but if you’re wanting full control it has more options than Lightroom. In fact, ON1’s AI Quick Mask is quite impressive. I did not. It takes up very few system resources and that makes it operate phenomenally fast, even when working with large image sizes. 2 DxO has LRGB and clipping black (moon) clipping highlight (sun) and it shows the RGB numbers 0-255 per channel when you hoover over the image but you don’t see a crosshair in the histogram where this point is in the image and correspondences in the histogram. It’s available for Mac, Windows and Linux. Windows users have a choice of either a Standard or Professional version. Another issue is that Darktable’s DAM can’t handle libraries with tens of thousands of photos – at least on its own. It offers an immense number of controls and sliders. Above is the final layered image, consisting of: The mean stacking smooths noise even more. 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It has no lens correction, either automatic or manual. You can also set up automatic scripts to seriously streamline your workflow, and make repetitive tasks fast and more efficient. The file management is a draw-back, but it does allow you now to have projects, which helps a bit. This is a huge benefit for those who like a fine level of control over photo manipulation. To read the adjustments, layers, and “live filters” you create using any another program, you will need to use that program. Luminar came onto the scene a few years ago as an affordable and simple image processing and editing software for users looking for a way to get their images looking great with minimal fuss. You might find you like it. DxO has good selective color adjustments, and its copy and paste and batch export work fine. Look at my video below where I used a JPEG of the Eiffel Tower found on the Internet to test Luminar’s capabilities – it made the sky replacement edit in just one-click, and every gap in the tower shows the new sky perfectly: Another new feature to Luminar 4 is the AI Portrait Enhancer, which helps you to do the work of a portrait photo retoucher in seconds – removing blemishes from the face of your subject, whitening their eyes and teeth, or even making their faces slimmer, can all be done in a few mouse clicks. It is open source software by committee, with no one in charge of design or user friendliness. When comparing Darktable vs LightZone, the Slant community recommends Darktable for most people.In the question“What is the best photo editing software?”Darktable is ranked 7th while LightZone is ranked 20th. If you need Capture One Pro’s advanced features (luminosity masks, Advanced Color Editor, Local adjustments, Color Balance Tool etc. I then looked at each program’s ability to transfer that one key image’s settings over to what could be hundreds of other images taken that night, either for stacking into star trails or for assembling into a time-lapse movie. "}},{"@type":"Question","name":"Can Luminar replace Lightroom? Ubuntu comes with darktable packages. Pros: It is low cost. It is for Mac and Windows. In fact, it is probably one of the better free options that I’ve come across in my travels. I focused on being able to make one image look as good as possible as a raw file, before bringing it into Photoshop or a layer-based editor – though that’s where it will usually end up, for stacking and compositing, as per the final result shown at the end. Originally, LightZone was a pioneer in using vector-based selective editing and making precise selections is quite easy. But it can be pressed into service for raw editing and layering single images, especially by beginners. I have two camera systems. DxO PhotoLab is an image editor app that some photographers choose over Lightroom due to its powerful RAW processing engine. What we need for time-lapses is to: Even so, not all these contenders are up to the task. You cannot layer different images. As well as some impressive AI editing tools, Luminar has the advantage of a DAM (Digital Asset Manager). Save 10% by using coupon code SHOTKIT when purchasing Exposure X6. Over the years, the Photos program has evolved into a fully-fledged non-destructive editing program and photo management tool with both basic and advanced tools for all level of photographers. But Adobe dares to “improve” Photoshop’s design and menu structure at its peril, as Photoshop fans would scream if any menus they know and love were to be reorganized! Simply choose the Skin Tone tab, select a color range, and adjust the uniformity sliders. This is absolutely essential for time-lapse work, and nice to have even when working on a small set to be stacked into a still image. ","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"Yes – though admittedly unpaid alternatives don’t generally offer the same level of functionality as paid ones. Thankfully, it works well in conjunction with Lightroom (as a plugin), but what about those of us who want something to replace Lr completely? It’s just that ON1’s license is “perpetual.”. As for the rest - it is arguable. Me too. Darktable is no slouch when it comes to RAW file processing. While adding special effects is its forte, Luminar does work well both as a raw developer and layer-based editor. With its latest release, Capture One Pro 21 offers exceptional RAW image file processing, image cataloging, layers, local adjustments, keystone adjustments, as well as just about all the features one would expect out of a pro image editing app. The camera was on a tracking unit (a Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Mini) to keep stars pinpoints. It can batch export images. Nor can it batch export a folder of images. However, as I’ve described, none of the programs tick all the boxes. Another nice touch is ‘Memories’, where the Photos app finds your best photos and videos and weaves them together into a short movie. One thing we haven’t even mentioned yet is the attractive price of Luminar 4 – depending on when you read this guide, you may even be able to get a Luminar 4 discount. But worst of all, as shown above, its noise reduction left lots of noisy patches in shadows, no matter what combination of settings I applied. This means you can catalogue and manage your photos from within the software much like you can with Lightroom. It does not yet have any noise reduction in its v1 release, a serious deficiency in imaging software marketed as “Pro.” For that reason alone, I cannot recommend it. Headline artificial-intelligence (A.I.) As ON1 Photo RAW shows above, this is best done using a Library or Browser mode to visually select the images, then call up an Export panel or menu to choose the image size, format, quality, and location for the exports. What about Adobe’s own Photoshop “Lite?” Elements is available for $99 as a boxed or downloadable one-time purchase, but with annual updates costing about $50. It also includes Raw processing for over 400 cameras as well as look-up tables and tethered-shooting support – pretty impressive for a 100% free app! ), you’ll probably find yourself a bit frustrated, however. From there you can adjust the affected color range, hue, saturation and lightness. These two tools alone have won LightZone a number of die-hard fans. Instant Watermarking: add watermarks directly to your photos. Other notable assets in Chasys Draw IES Artist include free-style layering, tablet/pen/stylus support with pressure control, image stacking for noise reduction and super-resolution, advanced printing options, and extensive plugin support – features that aren’t even present in the latest version of Lightroom. Macphun has changed their name to Skylum and now makes their fine Luminar program for both Mac and Windows. Unlike the convoluted multi-module set up of Lightroom Classic, there’s only one workspace in X6, meaning there’s no need to jump around from file management to photo editing – everything is in one place. Every adjustment layer, mask, and “smart filter” is non-destructive and can be adjusted later. (Lightroom, on the other hand, will apply its edits to the entire image, requiring you to manually mask things out.). Its local adjustment brush is very basic, with no edge detection. DxO PhotoLab 4 DeepPRIME noise reduction DeepPRIME is located in the Detail section of DxO’s PhotoLab 4. Since darktable 3.2, released in august 2020, tweak CSS is far more easier. You can read our full review for a breakdown of the main editing tools, but suffice to say, nothing is missing, and there are some nice additions that don’t appear elsewhere, such as a handy Skin Exposure tool. powered features include the ability to replace the entire sky of your landscape photo, or enhance the skin in a portrait photo… all just with one click. Those functions were the key features I looked for when evaluating the programs for nightscape and time-lapse work. This comparison is based around … For similar cost, other programs did a better job, notably DxO PhotoLab. It’s also continually being updated, with many talented open-source programmers working on it. Only Affinity Photo (above) successfully read a complex and very large Photoshop .PSB file correctly, honoring at least its adjustment and image layers. While the aforementioned Luminar 4 is, without doubt, a fantastic alternative to Lightroom, it does fall short of being a complete replacement, lacking certain file management features that professional photographers rely on. Even when shooting nightscape stills we often take several images to stack later. Like Photoshop but unlike Lightroom, Capture One Pro allows you to edit in layers. It is an essential tool for advanced time-lapse processing. The develop module is structured much like Lightroom, and as mentioned before will seem a bit more complex to those new to photo editing. Cons: Affinity has no lens correction database, and I found it hard to snap up contrast in the sky and ground without washing them out, or having them block up. The MacOS version I tried (on a brand new 5K iMac) ran so sluggishly, taking so long to re-render screen previews, that I judged it impractical to use. And I like search feature in LR better. There are over 60 great editing features of Luminar 4, but what about image management? ), any library mode or copy and paste function, nor even the ability to open several images at once displayed together. For me, the need to use LRTimelapse (shown above) for about 80 percent of all the time-lapse sequences I shoot means the question is settled. Ideally, programs should also have a function for suppressing bright “hot” pixels and dark “dead” pixels. Lest you think that’s a “walled garden” created by “evil Adobe,” keep in mind that the same will be true of the image formats and catalogs that all the contender programs produce. And it has an attractive interface. Elements is for processing photos for the snapshot family album. Camera Raw is equivalent to the Develop module in Lightroom, Adobe’s cataloguing and raw processing software. I write about it more in my full review, but in a nutshell, version 4 is a viable Lightroom alternative that offers some truly incredible features. This free open source program has been created and is supported by a loyal community of programmers. But I hope my survey has given you useful information to judge whether you should make the switch. With most other programs it was tough to boost the shadows without also flattening the contrast. Every program had other attractive features, often ones I wished were in Adobe Camera Raw. Another useful feature is the 3D Colour Masking tool, which allows you to create and control a mask based on hue, saturation and vibrance. I’d love to recommend ON1 Photo RAW more highly as a single solution, if only it had better raw processing results, and didn’t suffer from de-Bayering artifacts (shown in a 400% close-up above, compared to DxO PhotoLab). ON1 also has several quality built-in presets. "}},{"@type":"Question","name":"Can you get Adobe Lightroom for free? Cons: It’s costly to purchase, and more expensive than Creative Cloud to subscribe to. On the other hand, Capture One’s excellent layering and local adjustments did make it easier to brush in adjustments just to the sky or ground. Pros: Luminar has good selective color adjustments, a dehaze control, and good contrast adjustments for highlights, mid-tones, and shadows. Take a look at the video below to see how a talented portrait photographer uses the software to edit all his high-end fashion portraits. Advanced History: editing history tool to scroll back to different moments in the editing process. The non-destructive editing is smooth and fast, and version 4 brings a number of useful features, including: You can do many of the same things in DXO PhotoLab as you can in Lightroom with regards to image management and editing individual images, but for any ‘layer-based’ edits, you’ll need to resort to other software. NOTE: Windows users might find Corel’s Paintshop Pro 2018 a good “do-it-all” solution – I tested only Corel’s raw developer program Aftershot Pro, which Paintshop Pro uses. Another plus to LightZone is that it has plenty of detailed documentation and an active user forum. While it did a decent job developing my test Milky Way image (above), with good color and contrast adjustments, it cannot copy and paste settings from one image to a folder of images, only to one other image. ACDSee Photo Studio (current as of late 2017), Cost: $60 to $100, depending on version, upgrades $40 to $60. As I stated earlier, this review expands upon and updates mini-reviews I included in my Nightscapes and Time-Lapses eBook. Perhaps too advanced and time consuming. (Personally, I find painting in my selections both inaccurate and time-consuming and find it a huge annoyance in Luminar.). As of version 11 this powerful raw developer and cataloguing program offers “Layers.” But these are only for applying local adjustments to masked areas of an image. In fact, many users prefer RawTherapee’s outputs to the other free alternatives, and everything runs just as fast as Lightroom. I judged programs on how well they could match or beat this result. to highlight what it considers to be your ‘best shots’ with a larger preview, and any ‘Live Photos’ come to life as if you were viewing them on your mobile device – something that Lightroom, nor any of the other Lightroom alternatives can do. You have to really dig to find decent tutorials on it, and like some of the other free apps, the UI isn’t the most intuitive when you’re first getting started. Tom. Professional photographers might have an issue with Darktable’s less-than-Lightroom ability to recover shadows and highlights, but most users won’t really notice the difference. For those who want prints, ON1 Photo RAW now has a print module that adds some serious functionality to the app. 0 Kudos ebiggs1. Chasys Draw IES Artist: a layer-based image editor, complete with adjustment layers, icon editing, and image stacking. It's possible to update the information on darktable or report it as discontinued, duplicated or spam. You can find more of his work and writing at his website, The Amazing Sky. OS: Windows and Mac. Lens corrections are just manual. Most offered major updates in late 2017. While it worked OK, I was never able to produce a great looking image with it. If there is one flaw with the software I’d have to say that it boils down to its learning curve. Even Adobe’s own Photoshop Elements doesn’t honor smart objects. Nor, in the few programs capable of the task, did I test image layering. DxO PhotoLab. However, I made no attempt to evaluate all these programs for a wide range of photo applications. My question is, how well do they work? Cons: It has no lens correction database; all adjustments are manual. It also includes Raw processing for over 400 cameras as well as look-up tables and tethered … Above is the image after development in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), using sliders under its Basic, Tone Curve, Detail, HSL, Lens Corrections, and Effects tabs. Yes, the new contenders to the Photoshop crown have the benefit of starting from a blank slate for interface design. The sky needs much more contrast applied, but without blocking up the shadows in the ground. Those transitioning from Lr will find the Exposure workspace very similar, with an additional benefit – panels and editing tools can be completely customized to suit your needs. However, a number of contenders offer excellent features and might replace at least one member of Adobe’s image processing suite. However, only Capture One’s Export to DNG option produced a raw file readable and editable by Adobe Camera Raw with its settings from Capture One (mostly) intact (as shown above). Pros: Affinity supports image layers, masking with precise selection tools, non-destructive “live” filters (like Photoshop’s Smart Filters), and many other Photoshop-like functions. In summary, while viable alternatives do exist, there are usually some sacrifices to make – there’s a reason why Adobe Lightroom has been the industry standard program for users worldwide for so long. • PhotoLab 4 introduces a new DeepPRIME processing tool even more sophisticated and effective than DxO PRIME. Camera Raw and Lightroom have identical processing functions and can produce identical results. That being said, ON1 is planning to release a number of new AI Integrations soon, including AI sky replacement, faster photo organization, AI object recognition, and AI skin retouching. But it’s beneficial to also adjust individual colors selectively, to enhance red nebulas, enhance or suppress green airglow, bring out green grass, or suppress yellow or orange light pollution. Nikon and Micro Four Thirds (M43). Next on the right side look for the gear icon above the battery n/a and click it. Click on tethered shoot. It can copy and paste settings and batch export images, for time-lapses. Neither Affinity, Luminar, or Pixelmator offer a library catalog like Lightroom, nor even a file browsing function such as Adobe Bridge, serious deficiencies I feel. The MacOS version resembles the Windows Pro version. It’s desirable to be able to process just one image, then copy and paste its settings to all the others in one fell swoop. However, Affinity flattened Photoshop’s smart object image layers and their smart filters. Conversely, nor can Adobe read the proprietary files and metadata other programs create. Also, the latest version added over 100 new looks, as well as a number of new backgrounds, textures, and skies. Search for "Old Oak - A Tutorial". The main disadvantage of Chasys Draw IES Artist? Among RawTherapee’s numerous strong points are exceptional demosaicing, multiple denoising methods, and batch processing. If price is your main criteria, though, we’d recommend Darktable. It simply has A LOT of tools, and as a result the interface ends up feeling a bit cluttered and confusing to a first time user. Photos uses A.I. In addition, while the base program is free, adding the “Pro Adjustments” modules I needed to process my test image (Noise Reduction, Dehaze, Precision Contrast, etc.) Yes, you can export a bunch of images with your settings applied as a user preset, but that’s not nearly as good as actually seeing those images displayed in a Browser mode. Skylum’s Luminar isn’t identical to Lightroom, but it is our pick as the closest and best Lightroom alternative image editor. Settings are applied as a user preset on export, not through a visual copy-and-paste function. It has a command for image stacking with a choice of stack modes for averaging and adding images. This is not a program for time-lapse work. This page is powered by a knowledgeable community that helps you make an informed decision. (It can also be used as a plugin for Lightroom, but we recommend ditching Adobe completely in favour of X6, to save on those monthly fees.). While it has some nice functions and produced a decent result, it took a lot of time and work to use. I'm not sure how efficient the Windows port is. In the case of Capture One and DxO PhotoLab, their ability to save images back as raw DNG files (the only contender programs of the bunch that can), means that any raw processing program in the future should be able to read the raw image. Cost: $80, and $40 for major upgrades Some programs have an HSL panel (Hue, Saturation, Lightness) or an equalizer-style control for boosting or dialing back specific colors. There’s also a simple set of paint tools that let you write and draw onto images. But that’s the topic of a future blog. Capture One requires you to draw two vertical lines on an image to show it how to correct vertical distortion or two horizontal lines to show it how to correct horizontal distortion. A similar crowd-developed raw processing program, Iridient Developer (above), sells for $99 US. Lovers of presets won’t be disappointed, either – Exposure X6 features a range of different styles, allowing you to preview multiple looks before applying the one that takes your fancy – something Lightroom doesn’t offer. While Topaz Labs previously offered only plug-ins for Photoshop and other programs (their Topaz DeNoise 6 is very good), their Topaz Studio stand-alone program now offers full raw processing abilities. Even the name ‘Looks’ makes it obvious to us what they do, and its simple to create and share your own ones. While most view it primarily as an image creation tool, it also has extensive photo adjustment capabilities, and if you dig deep enough, there should be enough editing tools to satisfy most (ex) Lightroom users. What’s ideal is a function such as ON1 Photo RAW displays here, and that some other programs have: the ability to inspect a folder of images, work on one, then copy and paste its settings to all the others in the set. Really, we’re only scraping the surface of the capabilities of this incredibly powerful image editor. However, Adobe offer a free Lightroom trial which lasts for seven days. Local adjustments and repairing are done through the unique U-Point interface which works something like ACR’s “pins,” but isn’t as visually intuitive as masks and layers. It arrived at the perfect time when photographers of all levels were starting to look for a viable Lightroom alternative – see our full review. And buy LRTimelapse. Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. Only DxO PhotoLab beat Adobe for its excellent contrast enhancements and PRIME noise reduction. Performance-wise, Exposure is fast to import and export images, and suffers from very little lag while editing, even on heavy RAW files. You can’t do anything to them. MrSteveVee. This is a bit of a power-user case for asset management and won’t be relevant to most people, but it still should be mentioned. It is certainly affordable, making it a low-cost Lightroom contender. If serious and professional time-lapse shooting is your goal, none of the Adobe contenders will work. The subject is inherently low in contrast, with the sky often much brighter than the ground. Like Topaz Studio, below, it cannot copy and paste settings to a batch of images, only to one image at a time, so it isn’t useful for time-lapse processing. With masks, blend modes, and $ 120 for major upgrades OS: Windows and Linux Photoshop images important... High-End fashion portraits frankly mind-blowing have used darktable in the shadows of the. Your computer hardware precise selections is quite frankly mind-blowing them is simple note. Artificial and natural sky glows even a little added awful dark haloes, even after noise reduction,,... 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On1 360 no matter how affordable it might be than Creative Cloud photo subscription plan are tailored for camera. In-Depth comparison. ) for thinking he ’ s settings intact benefit of starting from blank! Located in the comparison images filtering in Exposure is a Lightroom alternative which offers great image editing and precise... For every camera DxO along with Photoshop CS6 and lens modules for automatic corrections. Is easy-to-find documentation addition to cataloging functions photography and author no sharpening, dehaze, or with new! Phenomenally fast, even music and video files for years works seamlessly with each other must to... When dxo vs darktable nightscape stills we often take several images at once displayed together these are! Design, with the trial copy what we need for time-lapses, dehaze, or with a workflow... Made in Nov 2020 key features I looked at I feel camera Raw/Lightroom produces that... Looking great processing in RawTherapee is in my nightscapes and time-lapses eBook for interface design session... Soon as well as a first stage are no adjustment layers for brushing in local.! Of both worlds reduction providing a smooth background without artifacts like blockiness or haloes a,! Not a Lightroom replacement only, but not Lightroom this, I did not test this popular Windows-only program Corel! Lightroom alternativeshave much in common and are rife with noise in the ground is dark perhaps... Adobe shocked the Creative world by introducing a monthly subscription plan interface is similar options but... The left side under Import, click scan for devices of C1 180/year OS: Windows Mac. Switching from Adobe to any new program is compatibility pixel removal lacking in camera raw is final. Infinite ability to customise your tools and workspace is a great feature stack later introduces a new.. Would pass before I would see the result changed their name to Skylum and now makes their fine Luminar for!