Review of the best according to the editorial board. On the selection criteria. This material is subjective and does not constitute advertising and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.
Practically from the very invention of photography as such, almost from the first 'serial' photographs, there was a conscious need for photo processing – to eliminate defects, increase expressiveness, improve quality, add graphic artifacts and inscriptions. Throughout the evolution of photography, photo processing tools have evolved in the same way. Today it is already a huge industry and a separate serious genre of art. Photography has almost completely turned into digital, and the software market has been filled with a variety of applications for working with raster images. The best of them will be discussed in today's issue. The editors have prepared for you a special rating of the best applications for photo editing and editing.
- 15 best photo editing apps
- The best paid photo editing apps
- Adobe Photoshop
- Movavi Photo Editor
- Open Canvas
- The best free photo editing apps
- PixBuilder Studio
- Best Photo Editing Apps for MacOS
15 best photo editing apps
|Nomination||a place||Name of product||rating|
|The best paid photo editing apps||1||Adobe Photoshop||5.0|
|3||Movavi Photo Editor||4.8|
|The best free photo editing apps||1||Photoscape||5.0|
|Best Photo Editing Apps for MacOS||1||Krita||5.0|
The best paid photo editing apps
The first category presents applications that are mostly used in the operating system environment Windows. Some of them are multiplatform, that is, they can also work under MacOS or Linux, and we will indicate this option, but our experts nevertheless singled out applications for computers Apple in a separate category.
Let's start with the legendary app that spawned a whole lot of folklore and a kind of subculture. The term 'photoshop' has long been used in popular culture to mean not only and not so much a software product for processing raster graphics, but the result itself – a processed photo or collage.
The very first version of Photoshop was released back in 1990, and since then has developed rapidly, quickly gaining leadership in the photo processing industry. Over time, the distance between Photoshop and its closest competitors only grew. As of March 2019, the most current version of the application for the OS environment Windows is CC 2019. There is also a full version for macOS and all kinds of variations for mobile platforms.
Photoshop has the richest feature set of any photo editing application. Everything that has been invented in this industry is almost 100% implemented by Adobe developers either already in the basic package or as part of numerous plugins and add-ons.
The program provides a comprehensive set of tools and tools for changing the basic properties of an image (brightness, contrast, saturation, color balance, etc.), applying a variety of effects and filters, improving quality and correcting imperfections, adding all kinds of graphic artifacts and inscriptions.
Using the convenient 'proprietary' toolbar, you can manually color the photo, cut out individual areas, and arbitrarily transform the image. For making collages, the application implements a convenient and intuitive layer system with simple and obvious control. Typical repetitive actions can be simply 'recorded' in script format and then batch processing a large number of photos in just a couple of mouse clicks.
One of the most important features of Photoshop is its best-in-class implementation of meeting the demands of the modern printing industry. It is Photoshop and a number of other specialized Adobe software products (Illustrator, InDesign and others) that are the de facto industry standard in the field of prepress printing products.
Adobe uses several business models for licensing Photoshop, including subscription access, which makes this outstanding application available to virtually everyone who works in professional photo editing and wants to work in a unified environment without restrictions.
- endless possibilities;
- industrial standard;
- convenient, intuitive and well-recognizable interface;
- comprehensive compatibility with third-party applications;
- large community;
- inexpensive subscription access.
- high system requirements.
The rating of the best photo editing applications continues according to the super popular ACDSee program from the Canadian developer of the same name. Initially, the program appeared as a shareware, fast and extremely convenient application for viewing photos, organizing albums and minimal editing. Having quickly gained popularity among users all over the world, ACDSee has just as quickly and consistently evolved into a full-fledged and quite powerful photo editor, while simultaneously moving to a completely commercial basis.
Currently, the application comes out in several content options – basic version, professional, maximum with some variations. The basic build remains in many ways an excellent image storage organizer and an easy way to view photo albums. Starting from the Pro version, the application has been expanded with a huge set of all kinds of effects, tools for improving the expressiveness of images, eliminating defects, and versatile photo conversion both in manual and batch modes.
The application supports many raster graphics formats, including RAW, which not all photo processing programs can boast of. There is also support for a fairly wide range of vector graphics formats. Another great feature is the ability to recognize faces in a photo.
With ACDSee, you can browse photo archives on the fly, create presentations and animated objects, HTML albums, process photos using a given template in batch mode.
A slightly unpleasant aspect of this application is the faulty optimization. As the program evolved, it acquired more and more new additions and add-ons, and the development team could not keep up with their own actions. Therefore, cases of rather slow operation of one or another tool or module are not rare here. However, this does not significantly affect the general acceptance and popularity of the application.
- ease of use;
- rich functionality;
- a wide range of filters and special effects;
- support for many formats, including RAW;
- face recognition;
- officially Russified interface.
- faulty optimization that affects the speed of work.
Movavi Photo Editor
Now let's look at an interesting domestic software solution. This is a simple, fast, original and at the same time extremely stylish and enjoyable photo editor – Movavi Photo Editor. The application is an amazing combination of simplicity, functionality, convenience and successful implementation of truly original approaches to photo processing.
Movavi is positioned by the developers themselves as a 'family' photo editor that does not claim to have professional ambitions. This is its charm and noticeable advantage – working in the Movavi environment is easy and pleasant, while getting far from trivial results. The application, for all its simplicity and accessibility, has a fairly rich arsenal of expressive tools for editing photos and retouching portrait photos, applying a variety of effects and filters (a huge selection sorted into 13 categories), manual color correction, eliminating flaws, etc.
A noticeable advantage of Movavi is its ability to increase the quality of not quite successful photos in automatic mode extremely effectively. This is due to the talented programmers of the developer company, who managed to introduce surprisingly 'smart' artificial intelligence into the application, capable of guessing with amazing accuracy what exactly needs to be changed during photo processing.
What is beyond the power of the AI built into the application can be easily completed on your own with minimal effort. For example, Movavi allows you to remove unwanted objects from a photo in just a couple of steps, without leaving the slightest trace of their former presence.
To get acquainted with the capabilities of the application, you can use the free trial period. The cost of a one-time license is available to almost everyone – the creators' pricing policy is extremely democratic.
- elegant, clear and pleasant interface;
- deeply worked out optimization;
- low system requirements;
- support for many formats;
- a wide range of filters and effects;
- highly intelligent and efficient subsystem for improving photo quality;
- successful implementation of original approaches to photo processing;
- affordable price.
- no objective disadvantages have been identified.
Next in our rating is an interesting application for photo processing with an equally interesting implementation. The developers have done everything so that Pixlr can be used by anyone from a technical point of view. So, there are versions of the application for different platforms, paid and free assemblies, and even a web application that works right in the browser online.
In addition to the comprehensive multiplatform nature, Pixlr provides the user with a very rich functionality, user-friendly interface, and pleases with a very good optimization. The interface is well designed, so anyone who has already dealt with at least some other photo editing applications will immediately figure it out.
In addition to standard functions and a wide range of filters and effects, this application has a high-quality automated algorithm for changing the focus point. The developers emphasize the fact that the total number of filters and effects in the full range of combinations give about two million (!) Unique combinations.
The lion's share of real Pixlr users have enough functionality of free assemblies. Those who need all of the Pro toolkit can purchase a monthly subscription that costs just a few dollars.
In general, this editor for processing photos is good for everyone, as at its level, the only not entirely pleasant moment is that it does not understand the RAW format. But the project is actively developing, and perhaps this gap will be eliminated in the very near future.
- many options for implementing the application;
- a huge number of filters and effects;
- intelligent function of changing the focus point;
- speed of work;
- accessibility and ease of use;
- extremely affordable price for a monthly subscription.
- does not support RAW format.
Now, as part of our rating, we will make a conscious transition from multifunctional photo editing applications to one of the most elementary – PhotoInstrument. Our experts specifically included this interesting program in the review to satisfy the request of users with minimal or no knowledge of editing raster images.
There are many simple applications for photo processing, but few can provide truly valuable basic experience practically from scratch, and PhotoInstrument is one of them. The interface is intentionally made with a certain margin of accessibility – large buttons, understandable labels, tooltips everywhere and everywhere.
With all the external limitations, the application has everything you need for more or less high-quality editing of raster images, in a form accessible to beginners and even older people. With PhotoInstrument, you can change the key parameters of the image (brightness, contrast, saturation, color balance, etc.), apply filters, add effects, make scaling and geometric changes, draw using virtual instruments and devices.
The application also implements complex tools with smart recognition elements in a template filter form factor. With their help, you can easily get rid of the red-eye effect, take the perfect selfie (clear skin, bring 'glamor'), eliminate defects, get rid of unwanted objects, etc.
What's more remarkable is that this simple application is good at working with layers, in places not worse than much more advanced programs. It is also possible to install third-party plugins.
- convenient and extremely accessible interface;
- tips and help at every step;
- speed of work;
- relatively rich toolkit, as for this class of application;
- convenient work with layers;
- the ability to install third-party plugins;
- multilingual (there is Russian localization).
- no integration with social networks.
The selection of the rating of the best paid video processing applications is completed by a special program that stands a little apart from the above solutions. The thing is that this program is more focused on digital painting. But at the same time, it perfectly perceives the PSD format native to Adobe Photoshop, has full-fledged tools for fine work with layers, has a set of filters, due to which it is applicable for detailed elaboration of individual areas in the photo.
Open Canvas is one of the most popular applications for anime artists, and this is natural, because the program was created by the Japanese. The creators managed to achieve an amazing combination of compatibility with bitmap formats, a set of vector tools, built-in stylistic tricks and schemes. So, taking as a basis a photo of a beautiful landscape or interior, using a rich set of virtual art devices, fans of the genre create real works of art.
It is also noteworthy that the application has a built-in recorder that records every step of the user. Upon completion of photo processing and drawing creation, you can literally watch a 'documentary' with a detailed reproduction of the entire process.
Open Canvas is distributed under a one-time license, which is fairly inexpensive. In addition, a record long 120-day free trial period will allow even the most meticulous and skeptical user to make an informed decision.
- a rich set of virtual devices for digital painting;
- built-in recorder that records all actions performed with the image;
- Compatible with PSD format (Adobe Photoshop);
- full-fledged work with layers;
- nice style;
- large community;
- long introductory period;
- relative affordability.
- no objective shortcomings were noticed.
The best free photo editing apps
The second nomination in our rating includes the best, according to experts, photo editing applications from among the free ones. The experts identified six of the most notable solutions from a variety of software studios. These applications have retained their free status for a long time, and this gives reason to believe that they will not suddenly become paid, as is often the case with new applications promoted by young startups.
The nomination is opened by a free photo processing application, which may seem very simple at a glance, but this is a deceiving impression due to the laconic interface. In fact, Photoscape has a pretty impressive arsenal of tools and tools for working with raster graphics.
The application contains a very voluminous set of effects and filters, a convenient collage editor, has a nice intuitive interface and decent Russian localization. The functionality includes all the basic functions for setting image parameters, tools for creating GIF-animation from a set of photos with many settings, convenient tools for composing, screen capture, and more. The entire arsenal of tools can be expanded by installing add-ons.
Auxiliary and service tools allow you to process photos in a semi-automatic batch mode. The application understands all popular formats, including RAW. A separate module is responsible for tight integration with well-known social networks, so that you can publish photos after processing in streaming mode, practically without distraction. Photoscape intelligently implements full-fledged work with layers, like professional applications for high-level photo processing.
The Photoscape application was created to work in an OS of the family Windows and up to the 'seven' new versions were released on the old time-tested engine. With the release Windows, the program had problems with optimization for a fresh OS, and the developers practically rewrote it. This is how Photoscape X appeared for 32 and 64-bit systems Windows 10, as well as for MacOS.
- rich functionality;
- concise, but clear and convenient interface;
- batch processing;
- RAW format support;
- there is a version for Mac.
- The 'good old' Photoscape does not work well in the environment Windows 10, and Photoscape X does not suit some conservative users.
This selection of the rating is continued by an interesting and rather powerful application for photo processing – GIMP in terms of functionality. The abbreviation stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program, and in this phrase clearly emphasizes the correspondence of the application to the ideology of open source and free distribution. The first versions began to appear in the mid-90s, and the idea was to create a worthy free alternative to the very expensive at that time Adobe Photoshop. The project was a success and continues to actively develop.
The application is very, very versatile, even regardless of its free status. It supports all popular formats, supports full-fledged work with layers, has a rich set of virtual tools for retouching, adding objects, color correction, various manipulations and transformations of bitmap graphics. Convenient tools for batch photo processing have been implemented.
In addition to the internal tools for simple drawing, GIMP can also work correctly with graphics tablets and other input devices that are applicable for working with graphics.
More advanced users and even professionals will be pleasantly surprised by the fact that GIMP has tools for fine and flexible settings for working with layers and masks, as well as the ability to change RGB channels for more sophisticated photo processing. Even the application interface lends itself to flexible customization – its elements can be adapted to individual needs. The program correctly opens sources in PSD format, previously created in Adobe Photoshop with all the attributes.
All of these features are included in the basic package of the application. Photo processing capabilities in GIMP are greatly expanded by installing any of the many free plugins.
The application is localized into dozens of languages, including Russian. Both an installation package and a portable version that does not require installation are supplied.
- open source;
- rich functionality even in comparison with paid counterparts;
- support for batch processing;
- correct recognition of sources from Photoshop in PSD format;
- flexibility of settings;
- serious claims to the professional level in general;
- there are versions for Linux and other nix-systems.
- some users face difficulties in mastering and understanding the logic of the interface – it is recommended to undergo preliminary training.
The well-known and widespread photo processing application Picasa from Google corporation continues the rating. The program was first published in 2002, when Lifescape studio was developing it. The startup was so successful that after two years Picasa was bought by the search giant, and the project has been actively developing for 12 years. Unfortunately, in 2016 the development of the project was discontinued, but Picasa is still one of the most demanded free photo editing applications.
Picasa was originally designed to be an easy and fast way to view photos, organize, sort, and minimize editing. In the course of the development of the project, more and more new functions appeared in the application: special effects, tools for retouching and removing typical defects, improving quality, color correction. The program can record geodata into the processed image, and makes it easy and simple to create slideshows and screensavers.
Picasa places great emphasis on tight integration with photo and video hosting services and popular social networks. The application also works closely with its own photo hosting site of the same name.
The application is a little 'weighing', works quickly and stably, well-designed in terms of interface logic and excellently localized for the Russian-speaking audience.
- user-friendly interface;
- speed of work;
- tight integration with social networks, photo and video hosting;
- convenient automatic backup tools;
- high-quality Russian localization.
- the project is closed, there will be no more updates;
- GIFs and multi-page TIFFs cannot be viewed.
Next in our rating is a simple application for photo editing without claims to be professional, but with enough functionality to cover most of the amateur-level conditions. Its microscopic size and excellent optimization make it comfortable to work with raster graphics on computers with the most modest hardware.
The application has a built-in set of basic and advanced photo processing tools by juggling key parameters (brightness, contrast, saturation, color balance, etc.), using simple filters, means of correcting individual areas, and retouching. There is a standard set of hand drawing tools.
Advanced photo processing tools are a pleasant surprise against the microscopic scale of the application as a whole. So, here is a full-fledged work with layers, full-fledged use of gradient masks, flexible selection, various transformation of objects and selected raster areas. The application remembers absolutely all user actions from the very beginning of working with a photo, and if desired, all changes can be rolled back to the original state of the image.
The program has a good support for hot keys, high-quality optimization allows high-speed processing of high-resolution images. The interface has been translated into several languages, including Russian. A portable version is included in the standard installation package.
The application supports many popular formats, including even PSD, but the lack of compatibility with the RAW format is disappointing. This prevents the program from fully interacting with modern digital cameras and wearable gadgets.
- minimum size and system requirements;
- speed of work in general and with high resolution in particular;
- full-fledged work with layers and other advanced tools;
- interface in Russian;
- there is a portable assembly in a standard package;
- multilevel rollback;
- hotkey support.
- does not read RAW format.
Now we will give a place in our rating for a program that has a pronounced bias towards digital painting, in addition to photo processing. This is actually the author's work of the German developer Boris Erich. Made, without exaggeration, with love, for which it has earned a lot of fans.
The application has a comprehensive set of tools for adjusting the basic characteristics of a raster image, as well as a set of the most popular types of filters, effects and tools: blurry, masking, mosaic, blur, etc. Full work with layers and transparencies has been implemented. The program is compatible with most of the popular formats, including PSD, and also has its own working format – AWD. Unfortunately, like the previous solution, Artweaver does not understand RAW format.
One of the most interesting features of Artweaver is the emulation of specialized effects that create a characteristic natural appearance for artworks: imitation of oil painting, acrylic paint, airbrushing, pastel drawing and many other styles of fine art.
Standard tools allow you to easily and easily correct individual areas of the photo, remove flaws, defects and unwanted objects in the frame. The application supports the connection of third-party plugins. To Russify the interface, you need to add the appropriate language file, while the translation may be faulty, but not critical.
- high-quality emulation of art styles;
- speed of work;
- compatibility with the most important formats;
- full-fledged work with layers;
- the ability to use plugins.
- no RAW support.
And at the end of the list of the ranking of the best free photo editing applications by version, consider another bitmap editor with digital painting as a second specialization. In terms of drawing, this program is much more powerful than the previous one, and in terms of photo processing too, but Artweaver has its own charm and its advantages, so these solutions do not overlap with each other in terms of competition.
The idea of the developers was to create an application for drawing on a digital canvas with unlimited sizes. This was done, but over time, Krita developed, acquired new features and extensions, and eventually became a full-fledged photo editor with an artistic specialization.
The application recognizes a wide range of bitmap file formats, and more – unlike the previous two solutions, Krita understands the RAW format. As standard, there are many tools for editing photos in different color spaces, retouching, applying dynamic filters, simulating canvas materials, hand drawing with many virtual tools, each of which lends itself to individual adjustment.
Krita supports interaction with graphics tablets, without problems and delays, it mirrors and rotates a conditionally infinite canvas, correctly uses different color models. Fresh versions of the application are well optimized for work in the environment Windows 10 – both 32 and 64-bit. The interface is in many ways similar to the well-recognized arrangement of windows and tools in Photoshop and has been translated into many languages, including Russian.
- rich drawing tools;
- full-fledged work with layers;
- support for graphic tablets;
- compatible with RAW format;
- conditionally endless canvas;
- convenient and intuitive interface;
- Russian localization.
- there are compatibility problems for users with video cards of the Intel HD Graphics family – the problem will probably be solved with one of the updates;
Best Photo Editing Apps for MacOS
The third nomination in the ranking of the best photo editing applications according to the version includes a selection of three photo editors designed specifically for MacOS. We remind you that some of the above software products have versions adapted for computers Apple, but here we will talk about applications originally designed for these systems, and which are more organically associated with them.
Let's start with a bright and ambitious project in a good sense, which was originally conceived as a worthy competitor to Adobe Photoshop, which already had a version for MacOS at that time and was actively winning the preferences of Mac users. For the most part, Lithuanian developers have managed to realize their ideas and set the bar high.
The updated, advanced version of Pixelmator with the Pro prefix paradoxically appeared with a radically simplified interface, and this bold move by the developers benefited the project. If the 'ordinary' Pixelmator was distinguished by a scattering of windows, window sills and other large and small workspaces, then in the Pro version everything is collected strictly in a single window and no longer scares away novice users.
As for the functionality, the application definitely pleases with its capabilities. The basic configuration contains everything that may be needed for full photo processing: color correction, effects, filters, color models, transformation tools, painting tools, working with layers and masks, and much more.
A few words should be said separately about the implementation of working with layers in Pixelmator Pro. This toolkit is controlled by a special neural network, which, if content is added from external files, automatically classifies the layer and gives it a name. Also, the concept of neural networks has found a successful application for selection tools – the application finds the real boundaries of objects with amazing accuracy and thoroughness, thereby guaranteeing impeccable processing quality. 'Smart Selection' works with full clarity – any movement of the mouse over the image highlights areas that this tool recognizes as 'candidates' for selection.
Typical settings that are to be applied unchanged to many photos can be saved as so-called recipes and then applied with one click. Each of them on hover shows a preview of the photo, how it will look after applying the recipe.
In general, Pixelmator's tools, constructive approaches and innovations, namely the Pro version, are a real breakthrough in the field of photo processing. The application supports 64-bit architecture now and continues to actively develop. You can check out its features for free during a 30-day trial period.
- the richest toolkit;
- innovative approaches;
- smart tools that use neural networks for perfect quality results;
- relatively affordable price against the background of opportunities.
- some users do not complain about the fundamental inability to use third-party plugins.
The second number in this nomination of the rating, we will consider another powerful application for photo processing in the environment of MacOS, produced by the well-known company Macphun (later renamed Skylum), which specializes in developing software for working with digital photos and other raster images. While the above solution is seen by many as a replacement for Photoshop, many professionals have called Luminar a worthy replacement for another Adobe product – Lightroom.
In its newest configuration as of Spring 2019, Luminar is a powerful photo editor and feature-rich digital asset manager. The basic photo processing tools are here in their fullest form, and we will not dwell on them in detail due to the obviousness. Innovation and original solutions are of much greater interest.
So, Luminar has implemented a set of the latest filters that use powerful algorithms of built-in artificial intelligence, deeply worked out optimization allows you to process even heavy high-resolution graphics at an amazing speed.
Such innovations as real-time noise elimination, LUT (Lookup Table) support, and intelligent filtering of sunlight are of great interest to users. Achievements in the field of artificial intelligence find application in Luminar even in the matter of organizing the workspace – the application automatically adapts the space taking into account the shooting style, instantly creating the most comfortable working environment for the user.
- rich functionality;
- density of innovations and original solutions in one software product;
- high adaptability of the workspace;
- highly efficient use of AI algorithms;
- there is a version for Windows.
- a noticeable percentage of cases of 'thoughtfulness' during complex actions, the developers promise to bring the optimization to the proper level in the near future.
And at the end of the rating, we will consider a good software solution for photo processing, which is optimal for those who do not want to pay real money for software. Due to the fact that this application is free, you should not expect professional-level opportunities, but Fotor was created, in fact, not for this.
Fotor was originally a web based online photo editing application. Over time, the creators decided to release a separate standalone product – an application for the Mac. The solution received mostly very enthusiastic feedback from users, and soon the program was scaled to the platform Windows.
The app consists of two separate modules. One is specialized in photo processing, the other is in creating collages. When starting the program, the user is asked to choose what exactly he will do with the image. By the way, this is the most controversial point in the program, causing a polar reaction from users.
In terms of photo processing in Fotor, the automatic correction function is very well implemented. Most of the flaws and unwanted artifacts in the photo can be removed in just a couple of clicks. Here, intelligent algorithms and automatic correction scenarios show themselves in the best way, which change the parameters of the photo depending on the shooting conditions – sunny day, night, beach, flash, landscape, etc.
There is a rich set of filters for artistic photo processing in the application. With their help, you can artificially age the photo, apply trendy 'hipster' effects and transform the image in every possible way.
The processed image can be saved in any of the popular formats or immediately published in any popular social network or photo hosting.
- ease of learning;
- speed of work;
- many filters and effects;
- the rigid division into two functional modules (processing and collage) causes a polar attitude among users.
Attention! This rating is subjective and does not constitute an advertisement and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.