Adobe Lightroom Alternatives: Cheaper Photo Editing Options

Adobe Lightroom has long been hailed as the industry standard for professional photo editing. Its comprehensive features, non-destructive editing capabilities, and efficient organization tools have made it a favorite among many photographers and graphic designers.

However, the Creative Cloud subscription model that Adobe switched years ago sent me looking for other options. Several alternatives offer advanced features, different pricing models, cloud storage, and novel approaches to photo editing that are worth considering. This article explores seven of the most powerful Lightroom alternatives.

Comparison of Adobe Lightroom alternatives:

Software Price Platform Key Features
Darktable Free Windows, Mac, Linux High-quality image processing, Raw photo support, Color management
RAWTherapee Free Windows, Mac, Linux Advanced color handling, HDR toning, Various denoising methods
Capture One Pro $20/month or $299 one-time Windows, Mac Advanced color grading, Tethering, Layered editing
Skylum Luminar $79 one-time Windows, Mac AI-based tools, Noise reduction, Sunrays filter
ON1 Photo RAW $99.99 one-time Windows, Mac Fast raw processing, Photo organization, HDR processing
DxO PhotoLab $129 - $199 one-time Windows, Mac Automatic corrections, DxO PRIME denoising, DxO ClearView Plus
Affinity Photo $49.99 one-time Windows, Mac, iOS RAW editing, HDR merge, Focus stacking
Darktable as an alternative to Lightroom

Darktable is an open-source photography photo editor that excels in non-destructive editing. It offers high-quality image processing, supports raw files, and advanced color management. Darktable is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Darktable’s cataloging system helps you organize and filter images seamlessly. It has digital asset management features for the image library.

Lens corrections are easy to apply, even for adapted lenses. There are included profiles for manual focus lenses. Of course, you can always make your own. Great for anyone that adapts manual focus lenses onto mirrorless cameras.

  • Features: High-quality image processing, image organizing, raw photo support, color management, powerful export options, tagging, geotagging, batch editing, masking tools, and filtering.
  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
  • Pros: Free, excellent camera support, advanced tools for scripting
RAWTherapee as an alternative to Lightroom

RAWTherapee is a powerful, cross-platform raw photo editor. It gives users great control over their digital images and a wide array of tools for color correction, exposure, and ensuring every detail of a photo is perfect.

As an open-source software, it welcomes contributions from its user community.

  • Features: Multi-threaded algorithms, advanced color handling, various denoising methods, HDR toning, and lens and chromatic aberration correction.
  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
Capture One Pro as an alternative to Lightroom
Capture One Pro

Capture One Pro is a professional-grade photo editing software. It offers an array of sophisticated tools, including advanced color grading, tethering, layered editing, and direct photo sharing. Notably, its interface is fully customizable, allowing professional photographers to tailor the workspace to their needs.

I am not a fan of subscription plans.

  • Features: Advanced tools for color grading, tethering, layered editing, direct photo sharing, and customizable interface.
  • Cost: Monthly Subscription ($20/month) or Perpetual license ($299)
  • Platforms: Windows, Mac
  • Pros: User-friendly interface
Skylum Luminar as an alternative to Lightroom
Skylum Luminar Neo

Skylum Luminar distinguishes itself with AI-powered tools designed to automate common editing tasks. From sky replacement to structure enhancement, Luminar’s artifical intelligence features speed up the editing process and produce stunning results. Luminar is available for both Windows and Mac.

  • Features: AI Sky Replacement, AI Structure, AI Skin & Portrait Enhancer, sunrays filter, and noise reduction. Intuitive Interface.
  • Cost: One-time payment ($79)
  • Platforms: Windows, Mac
On1 Photo RAW as an alternative to Lightroom
ON1 Photo RAW

ON1 Photo RAW combines raw processing, photo organization, and effects in one software. It provides a fast, smooth, and efficient workflow when editing raw images. Moreover, it also offers advanced editing tools like HDR processing and panorama stitching.

  • Features: Fast raw processing, photo organization, HDR processing, panorama stitching, layered editing, and effects.
  • Cost: One-time payment ($99.99)
  • Platforms: Windows, Mac
DxO Photo Lab as an alternative to Lightroom
DxO PhotoLab

DxO PhotoLab offers a suite of powerful editing tools, with its unique selling point being the automatic corrections based on in-depth analysis of cameras and lenses. It includes DxO’s renowned PRIME denoising technology and DxO ClearView Plus, a feature that removes haze and increases local contrast.

  • Features: Automatic corrections, DxO PRIME denoising technology, DxO Smart Lighting, and DxO ClearView Plus.
  • Cost: Perpetual license ($129 to $199 depending on the version)
  • Platforms: Windows, Mac
Affinity Photo as an alternative to Lightroom
Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo is a comprehensive photo editing tool that rivals both Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom in terms of features and price. It offers raw editing, panorama stitching, HDR merge, focus stacking, and more. Affinity Photo is available on Windows, Mac, and iOS.

  • Features: RAW editing, panorama stitching, HDR merge, focus stacking, batch processing, PSD import/export, and 360-degree image editing.
  • Cost: One-time payment ($49.99)
  • Platforms: Windows, Mac, iOS

While Adobe Lightroom remains a powerful and popular choice, these alternatives each bring their unique strengths to the table. Depending on your specific needs, budget, and workflow, you might find that one of these Lightroom alternatives is an even better fit for your photography.