13 Photo Editing Programs, From Classics to 360-Degree Image Retouching Tools
August 20, 2018
DxO Photo Lab 1.2
Formerly DxO Optics Pro, the renamed Photo Lab continues to offer RAW and JPEG processing based on optical corrections from DxO’s lab models, plus PRIME noise reduction technology and Smart Lighting intelligent exposure optimization. Photo Lab 1.2 integrates Nik Software’s U Point technology for applying local corrections nondestructively to RAW images. (DxO acquired the Nik Collection from Google last year. ) Version 1.2 also adds Hue (HSL) and Selective Tone settings so you can locally unblock dark areas or recover overexposed areas of your image. Speaking of Nik, DxO has re-released the Nik Collection suite of seven Photoshop/Lightroom plugins after scouring and refining the source code to make it more stable and fully compatible with 64-bit Mac and Windows PCs.
Adobe has been augmenting its flagship photo editor (v 19.1) with tools developed using its Sensei suite of artificial intelligence algorithms. Among the AI-powered image augmentations is a Select Subject tool that automatically choses the most prominent subject in the frame, with tools for refining the automated pick once it’s done. You can also merge multiple exposures into a 360-degree panoramic image using the Photomerge tool. The 360-degree images can be edited, and you can use Content Aware Fill to ensure that transparent pixels won’t appear at the edge of your merged frames. Windows 10 users will enjoy high-density monitor support, allowing the app’s UI to scale from 100 to 400 percent while retaining its crispness.
Pixelmator Pro 1
This Mac-only editor incorporates machine learning for automated color adjustments, including white balance, lightness, hue and saturation adjustments. The “Monsoon” update offers a host of resizing and compression options for posting images to the web. As you adjust images for export you’ll get a live preview of what your final image will look like. You can also create export presets as well as open and export resolution-independent vector images (SVG format). If you have a Touch Bar MacBook, Pixelmator offers shortcuts for applying presets, color adjustments, brush colors and image sharing. As you switch tools in the program, the available Touch Bar shortcuts will change accordingly to put relevant features at your fingertips.
Alien Skin Exposure X 3.5
As part of what it has dubbed its “Complete Workflow Update,” Exposure X 3.5 has added the ability to adjust hue, luminance and saturation for specific colors, plus more precise white balancing for RAW images with the ability to key in precise Kelvin values. You can now print an image directly from Exposure, with preview and margin options, output sharpening, integrated watermarks, grid capability for printing contact sheets, and more. On the image management front, files can now be backed up on import, keywording has been improved and third-party keywords are now supported. Finally, Alien Skin’s bread-and-butter—a rich trove of photo presets—grows even larger with the addition of 15 new presets designed to mimic the look of Fuji’s camera film simulations.
Cyberlink Photo Director 9
Photo Director 9 capitalizes on a few timely photo trends. First, it offers several 360-degree image editing options, including the ability to create “Little Planet” orb-like images, plus the ability to crop, edit and retouch 360-degree files. It also adds the ability to turn short video clips into animated GIFs so you can transform your work into a meme. Version 9 also delivers a content-aware moving tool that lets you move an object from one part of the frame to another by brushing over it and repositioning it elsewhere. Additional features include a dehaze tool for clearing up atmospheric smog, face swapping and a defringe tool to banish chromatic aberration.
PRICE: $100 (for Mac and Windows Versions); $60 (Windows only)
On1 Photo RAW 2018.5
With the 2018.5 release, On1 delivers a slew of new features including non-destructive camera profiles (natural, landscape, portrait, etc.) and support for Look-up Tables (LUTs). Some LUTs will be available with the software and others can be added via optional packs. You can also import your own LUTs if they’re in the .3DL and .CUBE formats. If you shoot RAW+JPEG, the program’s media library will automatically hide the JPEG copy so you’re not scanning through duplicate images. The program’s presets can now be organized in a nested structure, as can albums. Additional enhancements to the transform tools, export process and overall speed and stability of the program are also included.
The free, open-source photo editor recently underwent its most significant upgrade in six years. The new version offers an updated UI plus a new image processing engine to speed up your workflow as well as greater color management throughout its feature set. There are several new transform tools (warp, unify and handle) and improvements to digital painting, such as the ability to rotate or flip canvases and symmetry painting. You can now edit several metadata formats and there’s newly added support for importing and exporting Apple HEIF format image files.
Serif’s photo editor and retoucher has been given a performance overhaul with its newest version able to tap into Apple’s Metal 2 graphics accelerator. There are now custom wet brushes added to a collection of 120 paint brush effects, a new font selection tool, improved plug-in support for Photoshop, and the ability to open and edit images in Affinity from within Apple Photos. Serif is one of the few editors with a fairly robust suite of 360-degree image editing options as well. The iPad version of the app has been updated with a RAW/HDR camera and an upgraded RAW processing engine for adjusting shadows, highlights, clarity and more.
Capture One 11
With a new Resource Hub, Capture One 11.1 is serving up educational videos, blogs, webinars and product news all in one place. Adding Styles and presets to a layer on one or multiple images is now faster with direct control of opacity. The normalization tool, which provides a reference point for exposure and white balance for batch adjustments, now supports a choice of colors (before the only choice was a neutral gray). Capture Pilot has also been updated to version 2.0, which adds camera control support for Sony cameras, allowing users to change camera settings of the tethered camera directly from your iOS device.
**Read: Phase One Capture One 11 Review**
ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2018
Photo Studio Ultimate features GPU-accelerated adjustment layers, digital asset management tools and content-aware erasing tools. Recent updates have added heal and clone previews so you can eyeball your results before committing. Improved DNG support, new keyboard shortcuts and support for Fujifilm X-Trans files are also a part of the update.
Skylum Luminar 2018
The developer formerly known as Macphun has built a highly adaptable photo editor in Luminar. It offers customizable workspaces segmented by photography type (landscape, black-and-white, etc.) plus a “pro” workspace with all of the software’s tools at your disposal. Luminar is packed with 45 filters and 67 presets for tweaking your photos. It can process RAW images, supports layered editing and can be used as a standalone app or as a plugin to Photoshop and Lightroom. The company plans to add a digital asset manager to round out Luminar’s capabilities sometime this year. Skylum has also opened up an AI lab and bought up photo software maker Photolemur with plans to create more AI-powered editing and organizing tools for future versions.
** Read: Skylum Luminar 2018 Review**
Zoner Photo Studio X
Zoner unites image management, editing and RAW processing under one roof. Its Spring update adds automated image corrections powered by AI facial recognition algorithms. You’ll enjoy layered editing, filter brushes, batch editing, presets, support for HEIF image files, photobook layouts and more. Photo Studio is available only for Windows PCs.
Gentlemen Coders RAW Power
Developed by the former CTO of the Apple Photos team, RAW Power operates as a standalone app, as a plug-in to Lightroom Classic and as an extension to Apple Photos. It offers real-time RAW fine tuning (a la the old Aperture) with Gamma-corrected and/or Linear data. Additional features include GPU acceleration, a library of presets (including the ability to create and save your own custom presets), curve adjustments, gamut mapping and hot pixel clipping indicators. RAW Power is available for Macs only.