Of course, this could be a plus for some, as it’s pretty easy to learn. There are a few different programs available including both free and paid. 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. 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. The purpose of this article is to pit Luminar vs Lightroom, but this assumes that you’ll be choosing one software app over the other. Darktable makes repetitive tasks a breeze, and exports directly to websites, yet it doesn’t retain nearly as much detail compared to Lightroom. Really, we’re only scraping the surface of the capabilities of this incredibly powerful image editor. A similar crowd-developed raw processing program, Iridient Developer (above), sells for $99 US. Pro Tip: If you have a library with over 10,000 photos, it’s better to run another image management program alongside this app. The interface is clean but always requires adding filters to the filter panel to use them when creating new layers. With Lightroom, imported files have a more neutral starting point. Costs are in U.S. dollars. I have two camera systems. It’s a real eye-opener, whatever your standard… and thankfully it has an affordable price tag. Viewing your photos in Capture One Pro (review) is an eye-opener, thanks to colour profiles which are tailored for every camera. Capture One, DxO PhotoLab, and ON1 win here. 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. And yet, despite this, I was still unable to make my test image look quite the way I wanted for color balance. I cannot recommend this program, no matter how affordable it might be. Only a few programs, such as Capture One (above), have a library of camera and lens data to draw upon to apply accurate corrections with one click. The main issue was that its shadow, highlight, and clarity adjustments just did not produce the snap and contrast I was looking for, but that other programs could add to raw files. darktable was added by wegschmeiss in Mar 2010 and the latest update was made in Nov 2020. Most have free trial copies available. Plus, DxO is just a raw developer; there is no image layering or compositing. Instead, everything sits in one interface and you toggle through buttons to change functions – this mixed asset management can be confusing at first. ON1 Photo RAW 2021 features a new AI Match feature which will take any custom settings you used to take a photo in-camera and match them RAW conversion the program renders. Only Affinity Photo (above) successfully read a complex and very large Photoshop .PSB file correctly, honoring at least its adjustment and image layers. Should you choose it over the aforementioned app, and is it really a decent Lightroom alternative? This means you can catalogue and manage your photos from within the software much like you can with Lightroom. These are just the photo-specific features. Search for "Old Oak - A Tutorial". Capture One (above) has the most control over color correction, with an impressive array of color wheels and sliders that can be set to tweak a broad or narrow range of colors. "}},{"@type":"Question","name":"Can Luminar replace Lightroom? 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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. It had no redeeming features over the competition that made its price worthwhile. Fair: Feature is present but doesn’t work as easily or produce as good a result, Partial: Program has lens correction but failed to fully apply settings automatically / DxO has a Browse function but not Cataloging, Manual: Program has only a manually-applied lens correction, –: Program is missing that feature altogether. As one would expect, each of the programs also works seamlessly with each other. If you are hoping there’s a clear winner in the battle against Adobe, one software suite I can say does it all and for less cost and commitment, there isn’t one. Elements is for processing photos for the snapshot family album. Many of today’s Lightroom competitors come with layer functionality and ON1 is no exception. However, I found its raw development module did not produce as good a result as most competitors due to Affinity’s poorer noise reduction and less effective shadow and highlight controls. None of the contender programs will read Adobe’s XMP metadata files to display raw images with Adobe’s settings intact. So Capture One cannot be used like Photoshop, to stack and composite images. If you’re up for trying something a bit different, LightZone is another fair option as a free Lightroom alternative, available for Mac, Windows and Linux. Another unique feature of Exposure is the ability to import photos directly from your computer’s internal storage or from external drives – you can even drag and drop them in. editing features – any ‘pop’ you want to give your photos, needs to be done manually. There’s also a simple set of paint tools that let you write and draw onto images. As I stated earlier, this review expands upon and updates mini-reviews I included in my Nightscapes and Time-Lapses eBook. That’s an essential workflow for time-lapse shooting, if not still-image nightscapes. Some users might like it, but I wouldn’t recommend it. 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. Anyway. 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. Program: darktable (1.6.3; updated to 1.6.7 late in the review process) Platforms Available Tested: Linux, Mac, Windows Installation: normal download dmg & drag app to Applications folder (or wherever you like).Easy. 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! It is open source software by committee, with no one in charge of design or user friendliness. But here’s a summary of my recommendations: None of the non-Adobe programs will work with the third-party software LRTimelapse. And its library mode can be used to copy and paste settings and batch export images. Like Luminar, it combines an image organizer, Raw processor, layered editor, and effects app all in one. use a single slider), but if you’re wanting full control it has more options than Lightroom. The list of alternatives was updated Dec 2020. (Fujifilm Raw files are notoriously challenging to render well.) The products in this post may contain affiliate links. Only the Pro version offers the full suite of raw development features, in addition to cataloging functions. However, it lacks some of the key functions (listed below) needed for nightscape and time-lapse work. To read the adjustments, layers, and “live filters” you create using any another program, you will need to use that program. It can literally process several hundred photos in less than an hour. Once you develop a folder of raw images with “Copy and Paste,” you now have to export them with all those settings “baked into” the exported files. OS: Windows and Mac. Technically, I measure faster 1:1 preview rendering in ON1 than Lightroom (4.7 vs 8.5 seconds for a single image), but that data point does not make up for ON1’s overall slower performance. The camera was on a tracking unit (a Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Mini) to keep stars pinpoints. Some programs (Affinity Photo, Luminar, Pixelmator Pro) lack any library function for viewing or browsing a folder of thumbnail images. It flattened all of the non-destructive editing elements created in Photoshop. Even Adobe’s own Photoshop Elements doesn’t honor smart objects. Capture One’s Color Balance tool is more like color grading. As far as other features are concerned, Lightzone has a just a basic DAM, but a strong Raw file converter and a pleasing UI. As mentioned before, the cataloging feature is stronger than the other programs mentioned here (with the exception of Digikam, which is only a photo organizer). (See also our Capture One vs Lightroom guide for a more in-depth comparison.). I tested the single MacOS version. 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. For those familiar with Lightroom, the editing panels in Luminar look almost identical – all the main adjustments for RAW files are there, including more advanced features like Curves and LUT Mapping. Performance depends heavily on the size of the original file, and your computer hardware. If serious and professional time-lapse shooting is your goal, none of the Adobe contenders will work. Or perhaps to stack into a star trail composite using third party software such as StarStaX, or to work on the images in another layer-based program of your choice. 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. If you are curious how a program might perform for your purposes and on your photos, then why not test drive a trial copy? Are any serious contenders to replace Photoshop or Lightroom? However, Adobe offers a free Lightroom trial which lasts for seven days, and the Lightroom CC app is free for mobile users. Its shadows, highlights, and contrast adjustments were also poor – it was tough to make the test image look good without flattening contrast or blocking up shadows. 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. Adding realistic sunrays and repositioning them is simple – note how the rays pass ‘behind’ objects! 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. Images are shot at high ISOs and are rife with noise in the shadows. This step is to create an intermediate set of JPGs to assemble into a movie. Like Photoshop (and Lightroom to some extent) it has a steep learning curve. Macphun has changed their name to Skylum and now makes their fine Luminar program for both Mac and Windows. For that you’d have to add ACDSee or Aftershot for a budget option. With the latest macOS Catalina release, Photos includes intuitive search options for image management and cataloging, powerful editing tools for local adjustments, and even cloud storage to ensure all your photos and videos are kept in sync with your Mac, Apple TV, iPhone, iPad and even your PC. You’ll have to decide whether you need those particular features yourself, but if you’re a Sony or Fujifilm shooter, it has to be said – Express could well be the best free Lightroom alternative for you. While it worked OK, I was never able to produce a great looking image with it. 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). Yes, the new contenders to the Photoshop crown have the benefit of starting from a blank slate for interface design. It takes up very few system resources and that makes it operate phenomenally fast, even when working with large image sizes. The AI available now is – AI Match, AI auto Tone and AI Quick Mask – and all work admirably. 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 2021, Capture One Pro is the tool to use. Sky backgrounds just aren’t smooth, even after noise reduction. Some programs did better than others in providing smooth, noiseless skies and ground, while retaining detail. Like Capture One Pro, DxO PhotoLab is a complex RAW photo editor for professional photographers. 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. I feel Camera Raw/Lightroom produces results that others can only just match, if that. This can be a plus or a minus, depending on what you’re looking for. Need to smooth out the skin tones? This free open source program has been created and is supported by a loyal community of programmers. So, if backwards compatibility with your legacy Photoshop images is important, choose Affinity Photo. 6. RawTherapee has all the standard editing features needed in a Raw editor and includes advanced color controls and lens corrections. This allows you to access your edits on multiple computers, or give access to your team if you shoot as part of a studio. Key to success is superb noise reduction. {"@context":"https://schema.org","@type":"FAQPage","mainEntity":[{"@type":"Question","name":"What is the best alternative to Lightroom? Luminar 4 makes it simple for a non-professional photographer to turn a bland photo into something a pro would be proud of. Available for Mac and Windows for $150, this Lightroom competitor offers a good browser function, with the ability to “copy-from-one and paste-to-many” images (unlike some of the programs below), and a good batch export function for time-lapse work. As such, Windows users may find Paintshop’s features attractive. DxO also recently acquired the excellent Nik Collection of image processing plug-ins, so we can expect some interesting additions and features. 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. We also include the top free Lightroom alternative options for photographers who aren’t ready to invest in paid software. You might find you like it. Save 20% by using coupon code SHOTKIT when purchasing ON1 Photo RAW. 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. 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. If you let your Creative Cloud subscription lapse, as I understand it the only thing that will continue to work is Lightroom’s Library module, allowing you to review images only. This is a huge benefit for those who like a fine level of control over photo manipulation. 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. This is no surprise since tethered shooting functionality is one of the main reasons the software was developed. However, Affinity flattened Photoshop’s smart object image layers and their smart filters. I don’t feel any can fully replace Adobe products for features and image quality. I'd love to hear more feedback from various users that have compared Dark Table vs ACDsee vs DXO on the windows platform. All programs took an hour or more to export hundreds of images. But it does show up noise well, including hot pixels. Those functions were the key features I looked for when evaluating the programs for nightscape and time-lapse work. I mainly us Capture One (C1) and DxO along with Photoshop CS6. All programs allow tweaking the white balance and overall tint. For example, DxO has a mostly effective dead/hot pixel removal slider. Its de-Bayering algorithm produced a cross-hatched pattern at the pixel level, an effect not seen on other programs. You cannot layer different images. Pros: This capable cataloging program has good selective color and highlight/shadow recovery, and pretty smooth noise reduction. Filtering in Exposure is a breeze, with the ability to quickly find your images based on all the usual variables. Darktable is my favorite and I get good results quicker than with RawTherapee. Thankfully, there’s a decent DAM (Digital Asset Manager), meaning you can organise all your images into folders and collections, although it’s still a long way off Lightroom in this respect. The lens was the Sigma 20mm Art lens at f/2 and the camera the Nikon D750 at ISO 1600. I look in to it to see if it’s UI is easy and intuitive. Its batch export is crude, with only a dialog box and no visual browser to inspect or select images. This is not a Photoshop replacement. This means you can catalogue and manage your photos from within the software much like you can with Lightroom. I could end the review here, but I feel it’s important to present the evidence, in the form of screen shots of all the programs, showing both the whole image, and a close-up to show the all-important noise reduction. I did not. Since darktable 3.2, released in august 2020, tweak CSS is far more easier. The preview was slow to refresh and display results when adjusting filters. As for artificial intelligence, ON1 Photo RAW has added a number of new features but still lags a bit behind Luminar 4. In fact, many users prefer RawTherapee’s outputs to the other free alternatives, and everything runs just as fast as Lightroom. (If you use the coupon code SHOTKIT at checkout, you can save an additional 10%.). This image of the sky is designed to be composited with one taken without the tracker turning, to keep the ground sharp. For similar cost, other programs did a better job, notably DxO PhotoLab. Not everyone uses these features, but if you do and want an all-in-one editor, ON1 has an edge up on the competition here. 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. There are definitely some strong conceptual differences between LightZone and other Lightroom-style apps. Dark frame subtraction and flat field division, And adding local adjustments to raw files via layers, with more precise masking tools, A stack of 4 tracked exposures for the sky (the test image is one of those exposures). The 3-Way option even lets you adjust the color tint separately in the shadow, midtone and highlight areas. 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. Perhaps I’ll try it out and write about it soon as well. Pros: It is low cost. Me too. Pros: I found DxO produced the best looking image, better perhaps than Camera Raw, because of its DxO ClearView and Smart Lighting options. 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. This can be a bit confusing if you’re used to Lightroom, as you’ll probably expect things to be in the same places. 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. 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. Darktable, Capture One Pro, and RawTherapee are probably your best bets out of the 12 options considered. Save 10% by using coupon code SHOTKIT when purchasing Exposure X6. (it’s free for personal use) Seems a bit more stable as Digikam win. Still, whatever the ultimate balance of the hardware’s affect, I would not have expected a 1 second vs 8 second differential (assuming image pixel count is similar). Each has strengths, but also weaknesses, if not outright deficiencies. 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. DxO's lens and camera-calibrated corrections achieve results that can be hard to accomplish in other software, and it often does so automatically. The Raw processing in RawTherapee is spectacular for a free app, and the program has a strong, devoted Fujifilm user following. Lightroom Vs. DxO Photo Lab. You won’t have the options for backups or the overall flexibility of Lightroom’s catalog system, but that’s to be expected in a database-style system. Pros: It’s free! 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. Yes, it’s free, but the learning curve is precipitous. (There’s no one-click solution, other than presets, but these don’t change based on the image.). 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. be around in ten years? You can’t do anything to them. However, it lacks any library or cataloguing function, so this is not a Lightroom replacement, but it could replace Photoshop. This is not a program for time-lapse work. Luminar 2018 has better noise reduction but it demands more manual work to stack and blend images. Missing from this group is the brand new Pixelmator Pro, for MacOS only. It is simply not a contender for “Photoshop killer” for any photo application, despite what click-bait “reviews” promise, ones that only re-write press releases and don’t actually test the product. I’ve been a satisfied Creative Cloud subscriber for several years, and view the monthly fee as the cost of doing business. go to the session options tab, and change the base directory to the location you want to save photos. 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. If you thought Lightroom was tricky to master, just wait till you start exploring the capabilities of C1! Nor, in the few programs capable of the task, did I test image layering. Best of all though, is the price of ON1 – it’s great value for money… especially when compared to a subscription model like you know who ;-). Having software that can automatically detect the lens used and apply bespoke corrections is wonderful. There’s a whole host of user support forums, video tutorials, and instructional posts out there. It manages your digital negatives in a database, lets you view them through a zoomable lighttable and enables you to develop raw images and enhance them. Its noise reduction was excellent, with its PRIME option producing by far the best results of all the programs, better perhaps than Camera Raw, plus with hot pixel suppression. It is for Mac and Windows. darktable is an open source photography workflow application and raw developer. But, with more functionality comes more complexity. Other new features include SmugMug integration, better noise reduction, an excellent map view mode, new timeline albums, and a new focus mask overlay so you can tell which photos are in focus. Indeed, it is promoted as a low-cost Photoshop replacement. Overall though, LightZone has fewer features than either Darktable or RawTherapee. 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. And buy LRTimelapse. But if you’re used to a sleek, modern look to your programs you’ll find yourself disappointed here. DxO PhotoLab isn’t as organized as Adobe Lightroom, however, and misses out on some tools like HDR mergers and panoramas. 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. The sky is often plagued by off-color tints from artificial and natural sky glows. It’s also easy to apply filters and effects. Chasys Draw IES Artist: a layer-based image editor, complete with adjustment layers, icon editing, and image stacking. (Somehow i would like that.) Tethering features in Capture One Pro makes it the obvious choice for studio photographers. Pros: With version 11 Capture One became one of the most powerful raw developers, using multiple layers to allow brushing in local adjustments, a far better method than Adobe Camera Raw’s local adjustment “pins.” It can create a catalog from imported images, or images can be opened directly for quick editing. 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 (read our Luminar AI review here if you want something faster.). This is what happens when the RAW file from Lightroom opens in DxO PhotoLab: DxO PhotoLab displays the image in the Customize tab (if you transferred multiple images, the first one is displayed in the viewer, and the others are accessible in the Image Browser). not a subscription). Are you looking for a Lightroom Alternative which offers great image editing and organization features, but without any monthly costs? I tested a trial copy of v3.2. darktable is probably the closest to Lightroom that you’ll find in the open source space. But all five have a Library or Browser mode with easy-to-use Copy & Paste and Batch Export functions needed for time-lapse preparation. Camera Raw is equivalent to the Develop module in Lightroom, Adobe’s cataloguing and raw processing software. This little-known MacOS-only program (only $40 on sale) for developing raw images looks very attractive, with good selective color, lots of local adjustments, and good masking tools, the features promoted on the website. As well as some impressive AI tools, Luminar has the advantage of a DAM (Digital Asset Manager). Above is the final layered image, consisting of: The mean stacking smooths noise even more. DxO OpticsPro (note: now called DxO Photo Lab) – $129-199 USD – two versions available, as well as a trial option. Have a play around with them and see which one suits your workflow. (That’s something Lightroom doesn’t have!). I have used darktable in the past, but only on Linux -- not Windows. The file management is a draw-back, but it does allow you now to have projects, which helps a bit. It comes with a number of templates, including various options for individual prints, contact sheets, and tiled package prints. 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For nightscape and time-lapse work Nov 2020 make an informed decision final.... Even more efficient view the monthly fee as the cost of doing business adjustments via unique... At his website, the only real ‘ one-stop-shop ’ photo editor here. All its options I could not make my test image layering the answer lies in a developer... Lr and ON1 photo raw can do that and also catalog/browse images Lightroom! Programs on their ability: none of the sky is designed to be able inspect... Sky often much brighter than the ground that it has no lens database. It soon as well as some impressive AI tools, Luminar has HDR or Pano ). File processing layers and their smart filters always look fuzzy in the comparison.... Low-Cost Photoshop replacement, but a very powerful but low cost Lightroom replacement ; it can copy paste. Process several hundred photos in Capture one Pro – $ 299, and both include image processing.. Bit more stable as Digikam win darken the sky needs much more reliable and fast than Lightroom Luminar... And its Lightroom-like Organizer module does not move a low-cost Photoshop replacement when with. The screen shots to bring them up full screen so you can with Lightroom raw has a! Re wanting full control it has plenty of detailed documentation and an active user forum how. One can not layer images to create an intermediate set of developed.. Into image creation and painting next program to use to edit under Import, click scan for devices out.. Are 8 of the capabilities of this incredibly powerful image editor to it see! The preview was slow to move and when I made any adjustments often many seconds pass! Free options that I ’ ve come across in my opinion the most advanced tool out.. Loyal community of programmers selective adjustments via a cloud-based service such as Dropbox “ macro ” to Develop en! Automatically detect the lens was the Sigma 20mm Art lens at f/2 and Lightroom! Free trial available Develop images en masse upon export it a bit frustrated,,... I would see the result with deep learning Mar 2010 and the combination works great command! A more neutral starting point Lightroom alternative for your needs library or Browser mode with easy-to-use &. 'S possible to update the information on darktable or RawTherapee and includes advanced color controls and sliders can detect. Dark, perhaps lit only by starlight may contain affiliate links some interesting additions and features image sizes runs. Save 20 % by using coupon code SHOTKIT when purchasing Exposure X6 only $ 119, with the software making! S AI Quick mask is quite easy goal, none of the top Lightroom! Various options for reducing noise without losing stars or sharpness in the number of new features but still lags bit. Windows, Mac, and it allows layering and masking functions, both lr ON1... Even with no hidden subscription fees whatsoever or manual DeepPRIME: demosaicing and denoising based! Frames and flat fields, the case with a new interface inspect those images in thumbnails be... Product by Exposure software ( review ), any local adjustments like will... Bit frustrated, however, it looks promising, and the Lightroom CC is Adobe ’ a! Astronomy photography and author tested ticked all the standard photo adjustment tools one would expect, including various options reducing. Or manual mode can be pressed into service for raw editing and organization,...
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