Best Lightroom Alternative

Lightroom Alternative
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Are you looking for a Lightroom Alternative which offers great image editing/organization features but without the monthly costs?

A few years ago, Adobe rocked the creative world by introducing a monthly subscription plan for all its Creative Cloud (CC) apps.

Some photographers begrudgingly accepted the change and paid for the upgrade. Many others started to look elsewhere…

At A Glance: Our Top 5 Picks for Best Lightroom Alternatives

We’ve done in-depth reviews of all the different photo editing software which you can find elsewhere on Shotkit – this guide gives you our summarised recommendations.

So what are the 5 best Lightroom alternatives in 2020 ?

Best Lightroom Alternatives in March 2020

1. Skylum Luminar 4

Lightroom alternative app for apple and windows users

Luminar 4 won the EISA Best Photo Software/Apps Award 2019-2020.

Luminar 4 Special Offer

Save $10 by using coupon code SHOTKIT when purchasing Luminar 4.

+ Bonus Offer 1x Inspirational Looks pack (worth $50!)

Click here to check the latest Luminar 4 prices and get the Bonus >>

Luminar came onto the scene a few years ago as an affordable and simple image editing software for users looking for a way to get their images looking great with minimal fuss.

It arrived at the perfect time, when photographers of all levels were starting to look for a viable Lightroom alternative.

First iterations weren’t great, but thankfully, Skylum has really pulled its socks up since then! The most recent release of Luminar 4.1 here in March 2020 is quite frankly mind-blowing.

I write about it more in my Luminar 4 review, but in a nut shell, version 4 is a viable alternative to Lighroom that offers some truly incredible features.

Headline artificial-intelligence (A.I.) 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.

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.

Then there’s the AI Structure tool that helps to give your images an instant ‘pop’, by improving on areas of your photo that could look richer, and leaving everything else in its natural state.

Adobe Lightroom, by contrast, offers very few A.I. editing features – any ‘pop’ you want to give your photos, needs to be done manually. (There’s no one-click solution, other than presets, but these don’t change based on the image.)

Another incredibly powerful editing feature of Luminar 4 is the ability to add Sunrays to your photos, again with just one click – the most amazing thing is that the sunbeams change depending on what object is ‘in front’ of them in the photo!

alternatives to lightroom - apps with effects filters and batch management features for raw images and image processing

Adding realistic sunrays and repositioning them is simple – note how the rays pass ‘behind’ objects!

AI Enhance is similar to Lightroom’s Clarity and Dehaze sliders, but by using artificial intelligence, Luminar 4 is able to automatically find elements like your sky, or people, and adjust them accordingly.

(Lightroom on the other hand will apply its edits to the entire image, requiring you to manually mask things out.)

Luminar 4 makes it simple for a non-professional photographer to turn a bland photo into something a pro would be proud of. It’s a real eye-opener, whatever your standard… and thankfully it has an affordable price tag.

There are over 60 great editing features of Luminar 4, but what about image management?

Thankfully, Luminar 4 features a decent DAM (Digital Asset Manager), meaning you can organise all your images into folders and collections – just like with Lightroom.

One huge advantage of Luminar’s library feature is that it can mirror your hard drive – i.e. if you move or rename your images or folders outside of Luminar, it will adjust its catalog accordingly.

This makes the Luminar Libraries feature extremely easy to use – if you know how to use OSX Finder or Windows Explorer to organise your folders, you already know how to use Luminar’s library.

Lightroom alternatives app for all users - Luminar 4 for apple

Getting images into Luminar is simple – just drag and drop.

The ease of use doesn’t end there – adding punch to your photos is literally only a click away, with over 70 great looking presets (‘Looks’) available to use.

Even the name ‘Looks’ makes it obvious to us what they do, and its simple to create and share your own ones.

Lightroom alternatives comment

Recent user comment about Luminar

Aside from all the great features, the main benefit of Luminar over Lightroom and all the other image editors available in 2020 is its simplicity.

For those familiar with Lightroom, the editing panels in Luminar look almost identical – all the main adjustments for RAW development are there, including more advanced features like Curves and LUT Mapping.

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.

Then there’s the recent 4.1 update in Jan 2020, which brought with it several new features including:

  • Atmospheric Haze – usually seen during the day, natural-looking haze can be added with one click to images,
  • Erase tool -using an all-new technology for precise object removal. Removing unwanted pixels is easier than ever, even with complicated backgrounds or complex gradients.
  • Portrait Enhancer – can now be used on even more images, including those with smaller faces like groups or environmental portraits.
  • Adjustments Amount slider – tone down an adjustment with even more control, helping you blend all the editing tools with the original image.
  • Adobe Photoshop 2020 Support – allows you to use Luminar 4.1 as a plugin or as a Smart Filter with Smart Objects.

Speed-wise, Luminar isn’t so great for is when you need to edit multiple large RAW files quickly – e.g. the 40MB+ files from the Sony a7RIII take a few seconds to load and cache. Performance depends heavily on the size of the original file, and your computer hardware.

Also you can’t import your Lightroom .xmp and sidecar files into Luminar – only basic camera metadata. 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.

Finally, there were complaints about crashes and performance issues with the initial release, but thankfully, with the v4.1.0 update earlier this year, the majority of the issues have been fixed.

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.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST PRICE OF LUMINAR

2. ON1 Photo RAW

alternatives apps to lightroom on1 - local screenshot

The HDR and Panorama features on ON1 are excellent.

PRICE: Varies – check latest price here >>

ON1 Photo RAW is a bit like a mixture of Lightroom and Photoshop. It includes all the main image organization and editing features of Lightroom, and adds on editing tools like content aware fill, layer masks, cloning and various others.

Editing is based on layers (like Photoshop), and it’s certainly nice to be able to get all your edits done in the same piece of software.

A recent update includes the ability to transfer photos with RAW editing settings from Lightroom’s Develop module to ON1, to be re-edited (see more in our ON1 Photo RAW review).

I particularly like the browser-based system, which lets you navigate to any folder on your computer to view and edit photos – no need to import photos like with Lightroom, whose asset management can be confusing to new users.

One thing that can be said for On1’s Raw Photo editor, is that it comes with a couple of nifty features that aren’t often found in other comparable software at this price point.

These include various Photo Merge functions, such as HDR, Panorama and Focus Stacking. Neither Captrue One nor Luminar have HDR or Pano features, and Lightroom lacks focus stacking – its arguable whether most photographers require these features, but it’s still nice to know they’re there.

Then there’s Portrait Mode, which automatically finds faces, and creates a separate mask and adjustment panel for each one. Lightroom has no such feature, requiring you to open the image in Photoshop (or use a 3rd party plugin) for any portrait-specific edits.

A huge advantage of ON1 Photo RAW over its competition, and one of the key factors in its popularity as as one of the best Lightroom alternatives, is the ability to use Layers.

Similar to Photoshop, Layers allow you to edit various specific elements in your image non-destructively, keeping them separate from all your other edits. It also allows you to add Text to an image to create banners or other marketing material – Lightroom doesn’t give this option.

Similar to Luminar, ON1 uses a database for photo organization, while Lightroom uses a catalog system. You don’t need to import photos into ON1 – they’re already there the moment you boot up the program, which is a great touch.

As for artificial intelligence features, ON1 Photo RAW still lags way behind Luminar 4, but still offers the AI Quick Mask, which is actually quite impressive, saving lots of time when making multiple selections.

Lightroom alternatives - ON1 apple app/program

ON1’s AI masking tool is perfect for when you need to make quick selections.

Similar to Lightroom, On1 comes bundled with presets that offer one-click edits to your photos. However, the presets don’t adjust automatically depending on the content of your photo like they do with Luminar’s ‘Looks’.

Above all, ON1 Photo RAW is the only real ‘one-stop-shop’ photo editor available here in 2020 – it includes pretty much everything most photographers would ever need in one place. It’s also much faster than Lightroom, especially when merging multiple photos.

Things that it lacks include multiple AI powered editing tools, slideshows, geotagging, and online album compatibility.

Then there’s the RAW photo rendering, which isn’t quite as good as Lightroom or Luminar, and leagues behind Capture One.

Another slight annoyance is the inability to backup ON1’s database simply. Unlike Adobe Lightroom, the database is not stored in a single file – it’s a collection of image edits, preferences, and presets spread across multiple files. This could be especially confusing for a beginner.

Best of all though, is the price of ON1 – click the button below for the latest offers, but suffice to say, it’s usually great value for money… especially when compared to a subscription model like you know who ;-)

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST PRICE OF ON1 PHOTO RAW

3. Capture One Pro

capture one as lightroom alternative apple and windows

Capture One leads the way in RAW colour adjustments.

PRICE: Varies – check latest price here >>

When discussing Lightroom alternatives, any serious photographer needs to consider Capture One Pro. However, this is a software that’s reserved more for professional photographers, for two main reasons: 1) it’s got a rather steep learning curve; 2) it’s geared towards tethered shooting/collaborative workflow.

Having said that, if you’re a pro who’s looking for something with better imaging capabilities than Lightroom and the other photo editing software available in 2020, Capture One Pro is the tool to use.

With its latest release, Capture One Pro 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.

There are a few different programs available including both free and paid. The paid versions all have a free 30-day trial period, so it’s a good idea to download them and have a play around.

If you shoot with a Sony or Fujifilm camera, there are specific versions of the software, making colour management even more efficient. There are also usually discounts on these versions.

Viewing your photos in Capture One Pro is an eye-opener, thanks to colour profiles which are tailored for every camera. With Lightroom, imported files have a more neutral starting point.

Capture One Pro has more ways to manipulate colour than Lightroom, allowing you to make colour balance changes to shadow, mid-tone and highlights, and a channel dedicated to skin tones.

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. You’d be forgiven for thinking he’s using Photoshop – the edits are that intricate.

Capture One’s Color Balance tool is more like color grading. Unlike most other editing programs, it doesn’t limit you to the 8-color HSL panel – the Pick Color tool allows you to pick any color or color range in the photo.

From there you can adjust the affected color range, hue, saturation and lightness. The 3-Way option even lets you adjust the color tint separately in the shadow, midtone and highlight areas.

Need to smooth out the skin tones? No problem. Simply choose the Skin Tone tab, select a color range, and adjust the uniformity sliders.

As for its interface, you can configure it to be quite similar to Lightroom, but there’ll still be quite a steep learning curve – this is a software intended to be used by professional photographers, after all.

Unlike Lightroom, Capture One doesn’t offer different workspaces for different functions (i.e. library, develop, etc.). Instead, everything sits in one interface and you toggle through buttons to change functions – this mixed asset management can be confusing at first.

Fans of Lightroom’s autocorrect features won’t be disappointed, since Capture One offers all of them, and actually improves on their performance.

There are tons of adjustment options, many of which the average photographer would never use. If you thought Lightroom was tricky to master, just wait till you start exploring the capabilities of C1!

Lightroom alternatives app apple user

Tethering features in Capture One Pro makes it the obvious choice for studio photographers.

If you’re a photographer who shoots tethered to a computer, Capture One Pro is much more reliable and fast than Lightroom. This is no surprise, since tethered shooting functionality is one of the main reasons the software was developed.

Like Photoshop but unlike Lightrom, Capture One Pro allows you to edit in layers. Lightroom only has adjustment points for brushes or gradients.

When you use layers in Capture One Pro, you can make targeted local adjustments to your photos and still use the majority of the editing tools available, not just the ones in a given tool. This is a huge benefit for those who like a fine level of control over photo manipulation.

Really, we’re only scraping the surface of the capabilities of this incredibly powerful image editor.

In summary, if you’re a pro who needs the most accurate editing capabilities, or are lucky enough to own a digital MF camera, Capture One Pro will help you get the most out of every image. For everyone else however, it may be slightly overkill.

You can check out our full Capture One review for more info, or click the button below to play around with a free trial for yourself.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A FREE TRIAL OF CAPTURE ONE PRO

4. DxO PhotoLab 2

DXO photo labs app program for pro users

PRICE: Varies – check latest price here >>

DxO PhotoLab 2 is an image editor app that some photographers choose over Lightroom due to its powerful RAW processing engine.

Available at two different price points as ‘Essentials’ or ‘Elite’, you’ll definitely want the Elite version if you’re a pro photographer – stand out features for most users include the new denoising RAW tool, ClearView, anti-moire tool and a presets editor.

Updates and support for new cameras and lenses is excellent in DxO PhotoLab 2, with the software detecting the imported RAW file and downloading any modules (profiles) for the files.

The non-destructive editing is smooth and fast but the interface is a little cluttered and confusing. Also exports of multiple images is rather slow.

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.

Without wanting to make this guide too long, it’s best to click the button below to visit the DXO website to read more about the software and download a free trial. Then you can see if it’s really the best Lightroom alternative for your needs.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A FREE TRIAL OF DXO PHOTO LAB 2

5. Darktable

Lightroom alternatives app - dark table - a local users editing program

Our #1 pick for best zero cost Lightroom alternative.

PRICE: $0

Darktable is an open source photography workflow app and raw developer that’s runs on various operating systems, most recently Windows too. It’s also one of the few Lightroom alternatives that’s 100% unpaid.

Being open source, users can contribute to improving the editing tools, but it also means that some things can be a little buggy too.

Importing photos is easy and will be familiar to anyone coming from Lightroom. Once imported, you can use a range of sliders to perform non-destructive edits to your files, again, very similar to Lr.

I have to say that there’s a significant learning curve with Darktable, and the panels are rather too abundant and cluttered for my liking. You’ll definitely need to spend some time reading up on the various tutorials to learn how to use each function properly.

A few key tools from Lightroom are missing, such as adjustment brushes (unless I missed them!) and other tools to edit specific parts of the photo. These may not be needed for some users, but there’ll come a point where you’ll want a little more.

Making adjustments to each image is similar to Lightroom, and all the main sliders are there for you to control the various aspects of the edit. Speed wise it’s actually quite impressive – I was expecting much worse from freely available open source software.

I do miss the ability to lazily adjust just one slider to give a photo ‘pop’ – obviously killer A.I. features offered in software like Luminar can never be implemented in software that has no budget for R&D!

I don’t feel all that comfortable recommending open source software to organise and edit all your most precious photos. The program was quite stable when I tested it on my Mac, but I prefer the security of software that’s been rigorously tested and has a support team – even if it does mean paying.

If you don’t mind spending some time learning and experimenting to achieve what you want, Darktable could be a decent alternative to paying for Lightroom.

Remember, though – there’s no useful mobile app integration like there is with Lr.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON DARKTABLE

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best alternative to Lightroom?

If you’re looking a program that’s powerful and feature-packed and offers similar functionality to Lightroom, our top pick is Skylum’s Luminar app. As well as some impressive AI editing tools, Luminar has the advantage of a DAM (Digital Asset Manager). This means you can catalog and manage your photos from within the software much like you can with Lightroom.

Is there an unpaid alternative to Lightroom?

Yes – though admittedly unpaid Lightroom alternatives don’t generally offer the same level of functionality as paid ones, nor do they offer a mobile app. If price is your main criteria, though, we’d recommend Darktable. It’s an Open Source alternative to Lightroom that offers a range of quality features at zero cost.

Can you get Adobe Lightroom for free?

You cannot get Lightroom for free, as it is only offered under a subscription payment model. However, Adobe offer a free Lightroom trial which lasts for seven days.

Can Luminar replace Lightroom?

Skylum’s Luminar isn’t identical to Lightroom, but it is our pick as the closest and best alternative program. Like anything, both Lightroom and Luminar have their advantages and disadvantages – but on the whole, Luminar is a powerful and functional photo editing and image management software.

Final Words | Lightroom Alternatives

I hope this guide to Lightroom alternatives has given you some ideas on the next program to use to edit and manage your images.

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.

Combined with its useful Apple and Android mobile app, its a fast way to get your RAW photos looking great.

Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.

Mark Condon is a British wedding photographer based in Australia and the founder of Shotkit.

44 Comments

  1. Richard Boeful on March 6, 2020 at 2:31 am

    It always annoys me how dismissive people are of free and open source software. Just because it doesn’t cost anything doesn’t make it inferior. The fact that Darktable it is open source means that anyone can contribute and fix bugs which makes it way more rigorously tested than closed source software.

    From what I’ve heard about Lightroom; it has tons of bugs and is severely bloated, but since nobody except the developers can see the code it’ll take a lot longer to fix them if they even bother fixing them at all.

  2. Jennifer Reeson-Ho on February 23, 2020 at 7:40 am

    Hi Mark,
    I have recently started selling photos on Shutterstock and am looking for photo editing software to use. Luminar sounds like a good alternative to Lightroom. However, one thing I am struggling to find the answer to is if you can tag photos and then have those tags upload to shutterstock. I know this works in Lightroom but I am not having any luck finding the answer with other software. I would like to tag my photos and keep those tags with them so that I can upload them to Shutterstock and other sites without having to repeat the timely process. Any info on this that you have would be great. Thanks, Jenn RH

    • Mark Condon on February 23, 2020 at 7:50 pm

      Hi Jennifer, I’m not 100% sure to tell the truth as I’m not a Shutterstock user, but I’d hazard a guess and say no. Tagging isn’t Luminar’s strong point right now, but there’s due to be a lot of improvement in that department.

  3. J Rice on December 4, 2019 at 3:25 am

    I purchased luminar 3, so so, i will not be purchasing luminar 4. I do appreciated your reviews

  4. Jeremy Lerman on December 2, 2019 at 10:26 pm

    Personally, I use Perfectly Clear for batch edits, Exposure X4 and NIK software for fine tuning. None require a catalog nor a subscription. All are exceptional and highly recommended.

    • Mark Condon on December 3, 2019 at 4:39 am

      Best of all worlds, Jeremy! :-)

    • marieke on January 29, 2020 at 2:30 am

      Hi
      Is there much difference between the 3 different priced versions of Luminar 4?

  5. Donna on December 2, 2019 at 10:17 pm

    Hi Mark, thanks for the great review. I have the last version of LR that doesnt need a subscription and I like it but I also have PS Elemnets which I only use occasionally to edit and always use to print images. I would like to upgrade Elements but of course don’t want the monthly subscription fee. Do you know of any good PSE alternatives for a non-pro?

    Thanks!

    • Mark Condon on December 3, 2019 at 4:41 am

      Hey Donna, does Affinity Photo tick the right boxes for you? It’s a popular image editor, but with admittedly less functionality than Photoshop.

      • Donna on December 3, 2019 at 1:04 pm

        I’ll check it out, thanks!

  6. Daniela on November 9, 2019 at 9:53 pm

    Hi Mark , lovely to see all these programs around here.
    Having Canon 5Dsr, and also a Fuji xt2, I need to use different programs. After trying whatever you might think of, my final selections are:
    For Canon raw huge files, either, Bridge which with camera raw very similar to LR, makes things the same, paired with Topaz Ai Clear (Mostly used to clean up noise and give a touch crispiness) and finally some Photoshop if it’s needed.
    Also, the best one to manage big files has proven to be On1 Photo Raw 2020, with huge differences with the previous year On1 2019.
    I also use but only sometimes DxO elite pro.
    LUMINAR? no, it really gives too much to make subtle changes for delicate photos, the best of Luminar is the sunray stuff, if… your photo can really handle that.

    Now for Fuji xt2-
    I tried and have: Capture One pro, which I really like fot FUji even more than for canon right now, but my prefered is AlienSkin, now Exposure 5. That program takes the best of the colors of the Fuji raf files. I usually turn those files into TIFF, so I can work them wherever I want.

    Darktable has problems with Catalina!
    And…now a surprise:
    The old PHOTOSCAPE X, for mac users is so simple to use, and yet very effective. It’s not a very quick program for the people wanting speed, but… you can make lots and lots of stuff with it. It’s cheap, and capable.

    Programs I have and tried:
    Adobe suite, from which I mostly use Photoshop and Indesign.
    Luminar 3- (I am not decided to buy or not the 4)
    On1 Photo raw 2020
    Capture One Pro
    Darktable
    Exposure 5
    Topaz Studio 1, and Topaz studio 2 (I still prefer the 1, as it can handle more than one photo at a time)
    DxO photolab 2- works neatly and easily
    Photolemur (YUCK)
    Silkypix DS 9 Not working properly on Catalina but still a very capable product
    I don’t want to learn Affinity hahahaha

    My dear friend I wish you all the best!
    Best wishes from your friend in Uruguay :)
    Daniela.

    • Mark Condon on November 11, 2019 at 4:30 am

      Wow, thanks for the comment Daniela – very useful information!

  7. Laszlo Konya on November 1, 2019 at 6:55 pm

    Hi Mark,

    Thanks for this great review. I have been looking for a LR alternative that is not based on a subscription model. I have a few thousand images edited in LR and I wonder which of these programs would make the transition the least painful. Cheers, Laszlo

  8. David Bensley on August 13, 2019 at 12:24 am

    Very good review except for two things:
    1. How the choices including, in particular Luminar, work with all camera types. In particular the Fuji x-tran system, which you regularly review quite extensively-both cameras and lenses. More generally there seems to be a suggestion that the best editing/lightroom alternative tool is very dependent on the brand of camera system being used?
    2.Affinity Photo, which is not included, has performed very well in other reviews of editing software.

    • Mark Condon on August 13, 2019 at 5:16 am

      Thanks David. We’re currently writing an Affinity vs Luminar article, and will be updating this one as necessary. Re. Fuji system, Capture One seems to be the most popular choice after Lr.

  9. Adrian V on August 13, 2019 at 12:15 am

    I tried out trial version of Luminar 3 and felt it was a bit slow to do apply its settings on my system with large files, compared to other programs I had. I instead picked Luminar Flex as a plug in to Photoshop which is much faster and I am happy with that, and I occasionally use that for images for extra POP. That said the presets are a bit intense if your photos are already somewhat saturated for portrait or figure work, but I could dial dial down the preset effects with its sliders and from this I like the looks. I also have DXO Photolab 2 Elite which I use a lot weekly, plus ACDSee Pro Ultimate 2018 which does raw processing for my D750. You missed mentioning ACDSee Pro which can essentially do nearly everything that Lightroom can do, but with onetime standalone prices. Worth checking out. and trying the trial version! What are your thoughts on ACDSee Pro Ultimate 2018/2019, which has brushes and gradiants for localized adjustments and full images sliders for raw. Also great for sorting and checking off images.

    • Mark Condon on August 13, 2019 at 5:17 am

      Thanks for the feedback, Adrian. We reviewed Luminar Flex and found it to be a good option too, as long as you don’t need all the features of the fully-fledged Luminar software.

  10. Jon on July 21, 2019 at 12:35 pm

    Which is best to replace Lightroom DAM? Luminar Libraries is so useless – does not even come close to the Lightroom functionalities of search, meta filters, etc etc etc.

  11. Danny on July 19, 2019 at 10:25 pm

    Darktable has drawn mask capability, but more important it has also insanely powerful parametric masking. It’s the real killer feature.
    All the special features like waveform view, exposure fusion,blending,filmic tone curve,ansel’s zone system,channel mixer,equilizer,liquify and other make it much more complete package than Lightroom, Capure one…

    Compare to this the AI slider in Luminar seems like toy, it usually doesn’t do what you want.

    • Mark Condon on July 21, 2019 at 8:33 am

      I guess it depends on the images you are processing and your expectations, Danny. I get good results from the AI slider in Luminar, but usually for landscape images.

    • MikeG on August 12, 2019 at 9:45 pm

      Personally, I use Photoshop ( the same monthly subscription as above) with Luminar and ON1 plugged into it. Works fabulously well and covers just about every base!

      • Mark Condon on August 13, 2019 at 5:18 am

        Sounds like a good solution. Curious, though – don’t you get Lr as part of that Ps subscription?

  12. Dan the Photo Man on June 27, 2019 at 9:43 am

    Gave Luminar 3 a try. Unlike many, I actually liked the interface/DAM. What I could not get past was the poor RAW processing compared to programs like Capture One and DXO Photolab. Luminar has lots of cartoon-like presets you can instantly apply, but I want quality processing.

    • Mark Condon on June 27, 2019 at 2:17 pm

      What RAW files were you editing, Dan? If you’re needing to edit huge medium format files with tons of DR and a wide spectrum of tonality, I can see CO or Photolab being more suited.

    • David Wilkins on October 21, 2019 at 6:44 pm

      Great article, I’m looking for an alternative to Light room and will give Luminar a trial thanks

      • Mark Condon on October 22, 2019 at 7:54 pm

        Give it a whirl, David. I noticed you’re a wedding photographer – I’m not sure Luminar will replace Lr for big batch edits, but rather, for those one off shots that require some special magic. I’ll be posting a tutorial video on this exact thing soon!

  13. Aubrey on May 31, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    I’m using Dxo Elite. Great software. I really like the U point technology.
    I use IMatch as my DAM, again great software and very customizable. The two software work well together.
    Aubrey

    • Mark Condon on May 31, 2019 at 3:05 pm

      Thanks for the feedback, Aubrey – glad that set up is working for you.

  14. Jessica on March 26, 2019 at 12:49 am

    Me too, I’d rather pay some reasonable amount of money for a licence and get free updates and decent tech support than use a freebie with its bunch of glitches. So at the moment I’ve switched to PhotoWorks software and quite happy with it.

    • Mark Condon on March 26, 2019 at 9:00 am

      What is it exactly that you like about PhotoWorks, Jessica?

      • Jessica on April 15, 2019 at 10:05 pm

        Most of all I like the option of RAW processing, no plug-ins are needed. Second, it’s Portrait Magic – AI based tool for retouching portraits. Finally, new features appear every now and then, the developers do love their product :)

  15. David on March 23, 2019 at 10:35 pm

    Obviously the free alternatives are free but the paid alternatives all get updated each year at a cost which is basically like a subscription I know that if you don’t wish to upgrade it won’t cost you but you would be missing out on new technology and camera support. So it is swings and roundabouts with Adobe you’re always up to date with the latest tech and innovation and camera support with the others you can decide whether you need that when the upgrade is released but it is still a cost and if you have spent thousands on camera gear it’s not a big investment to get the best software to edit the images you create.

    • Mark Condon on March 25, 2019 at 6:38 am

      Yeah Lightroom is good, but I think that there’s a lot of room for improvement, most notably in speed.

  16. Kerry on February 24, 2019 at 7:17 am

    Having used Lightroom forever, i was really frustrated to see I had to go on a monthly plan when my computer finally gave up the ghost. So after reading one of your write ups, I gave Luminar a go. I love it! Simple and easy to use. I am not a professional photographer but so far I like what I see. Thanks for your reviews and thoughts, I really enjoy them.

    • Mark Condon on February 26, 2019 at 7:47 pm

      Ah great to hear, Kerry! Yes I’m sure there are a lot of frustrated former-Adobe users out there, so it’s fortunate that there are a few great alternatives around.

  17. kiwiwolf on January 21, 2019 at 3:26 pm

    Thanks Mark, always looking for recommendations and advice on anything to do with photography but sorry to say I think the information provided on the comparison between these alternatives to Lightroom is far too sparse for us to judge.
    I have used Lightroom and ON 1 and will probably take a look at Luminar as I have seen other reviews on it, but to make a judgement on what you have included above is a No No from me.

    • Mark Condon on January 21, 2019 at 6:40 pm

      Thanks for the constructive criticism Kiwiwolf, and I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t get any benefit from my article. In the interests of brevity (it’s already pretty long!), I haven’t dived too deep into each software. Most of them offer free trial versions, so I’d encourage you to use my recommendations as a starting point, and continue the research yourself. I’ll also look at adding to the reviews, if there’s sufficient need from others. Let us know which Lr alternative you end up liking the best ;-)

  18. Dmitriy Krasitsky on January 4, 2019 at 8:47 pm

    About free alternatives, – try RawTherapee

  19. Darren James on January 4, 2019 at 6:19 pm

    Thanks Mark. I always trust your tips and will be trying Luminar out. I’d also like to mention AlienSkin and Affinity Photo. I have been using these for years and have never missed Adobe products. Hated how hard it was to open images in LR if they had ever been opened before.

    ASE went downhill a little for me after X2 and I hope they get it together in X5 but it’s still worth considering. It’s fantastic for batch processing, not great for fine details, that’s where Affinity comes in, it’s amazing for high fine retouching.

    Thanks again.

    • Mark Condon on January 5, 2019 at 5:47 am

      Awesome thanks Darren. I remember using ASE for their editing plugins a few years ago, so keen to have a play around with their latest editor. Affinity is on the list too. Cheers!

  20. Steve on December 20, 2018 at 5:54 pm

    Mark…. you forgot Alien Skin Exposure X4

    • Mark Condon on December 21, 2018 at 11:27 am

      Ah yes! I need to get hold of a copy to review – you a fan of ASE, Steve?

      • Steve on December 21, 2018 at 7:24 pm

        Ciao Mark, I’m not a fan of ASE (my favorite configuration is Capture One Pro Sony and Capture ONE free for fuji + Affinity Photo) but the Alien Skin Exposure X4 version is much improved as speed and functionality, Fuji film simulations work well and the main functions color control shades etc … they work well, plus there are levels that are very useful. It is a good alternative to Luminar.
        Thank you for your great work!!! Complimenti

        • Mark Condon on December 24, 2018 at 6:36 am

          Ah thanks Steve – very interesting. Fujifilm simulations are something that a lot of image editors struggle to replicate well. Will have to have a play!

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