Lightroom is a great tool to edit RAW files but photography should not be monopolized by one product or brand. There is life beyond Lightroom to live as a professional photographer or a photography hobbyist. We will show you some of the best Lightroom alternatives for Windows 10.
One of the most-complained things about Lightroom is that Adobe only accepts a subscription-based payment model to use Lightroom. Users are actually not objected to spending more money upfront to get Lightroom with a one-time purchase option like it used to be. When using a subscription-based app, you actually rent the app instead of own it.
So if you are the sort of person who doesn’t like a subscription-based app or simply wants to switch away from Lightroom, here are 7 of the best alternatives which you can install on Windows 10 and other Windows versions.
Free Lightroom alternatives for Windows 10
RawTherapee is one of the best free tools to edit RAW files. You can use it to edit RAW files from a wide range of camera brands from Nikon (NEF), Canon (CR2), Sony Alpha (ARW), and Fujifilm (RAF), and so on. It has a great interface that is easy enough to use. Main adjustment panels on the right side, preview window on the center, and file browser on the left side. In addition to editing RAW files, RawTherapee can also be used to manage your RAW files just like Lightroom. There are two main parameters you can use to manage your files: label and rating. Once done editing the photo, you can export your photo in TIFF, JPG, or PNG format.
The adjustment options offered by RawTherapee are not much different from Lightroom. You can set the temperature, tint, exposure compensation, saturation, contrast, and so on are available. There is also a tone curve to correct your photo. Every time you edit a RAW file, RawTherapee will create a new sidecar file on the folder where you store the RAW file. The more RAW files you edit, the more sidecar files will be created. It makes your folder a bit cluttered, unfortunately.
Darktable probably is the best option if you are really looking for a Lightroom alternative. The interface of this RAW editor is pretty similar to Lightroom Classic in which it is divided into 5 modes: lighttable, darkroom, map, slideshow, and tethering. The lighttable and darkroom are the modes you will work mostly in. You will work in the lighttable mode to manage your RAW files while darkroom is the mode where you can edit an image.
Same as RawTherapee, Darktable is also a non-destructive photo editor. It will create sidecar files on the original folder where you store your RAW files, making your folder a bit cluttered. However, the original files won’t change no matter how many times you edit them as the changes are stored to the sidecar files. The changes will only be applied once you export the images. Darktable supports bulk images. When exporting, you can select your preferred color profile. Darktable supports sRGB and Adobe RGB. The file formats supported by Darktable are JPG, PNG, TIFF, WebP.
Paid Lightroom alternatives for Windows 10
CaptureOne a perfect RAW editor for professional photographers. It supports more color profiles, including CMYK which is perfect for a printing purpose. CaptureOne is also a non-destructive photo editor, but it doesn’t create sidecar files as RawTherapee and Darktable do. The changes you made are saved in the app itself instead of separate files. Thus, your original folder remains free from sidecar files. The interface of CaptureOne is a bit scary at first, but once you dig deeper, you will find that this tool is pretty cool. It comes with a number of tools that allow you to correct a specific area of a photo.
CaptureOne supports multiple layers. The color adjustment options are grouped into 4 groups: White Balance, Color Editor, Color Balance, and Black & White. There is also an Exposure menu to correct image exposure. CaptureOne allows you to export your images into a wide range of formats. From JPEG, TIFF, PNG, PSD, to DNG. You can also save your images in the original format. CaptureOne supports presets for time efficiency. The price of CaptureOne is a bit expensive (over $200), but it is really worth it. You can try this tool for free for 30 days.
Luminar has a more compact interface than CaptureOne, yet powerful enough to edit and manage RAW files. It has some AI-powered adjustments. Luminar also supports multiple layers for more advanced image editing. It comes with the Clone & Stamp tool that will be useful for certain editing such as removing the lens flare. Luminar also offers presets to allow you to have a nice-look image effortlessly. Luminar itself is available in three versions: a standalone app, a Photoshop plugin, and a Lightroom plugin. It supports three color profiles: sRGB, Adobe RGB, and ProPhoto RGB. You can export your images into JPG, PNG, TIFF, and PSD. The Luminar and SmugMug integration allows you to directly save your images to your SmugMug account. Luminar is cheaper than CaptureOne. It costs about $89. It offers a 7-day trial.
3. DxO PhotoLab
DxO PhotoLab is a feature-rich RAW editor. It is better suited for professional use just like CaptureOne. It comes with nearly all adjustment options you can expect from a RAW editor. From white balance, exposure, temperature, tint, and so on. The local adjustment feature allows you to correct a certain area of your image. The local adjustment offers 4 tools: brush, graduated filter, control point, auto mask, eraser. You can also add a new layer mark. There are also presets offered by DxO PhotoLab to allow you to have a beautiful photo in a single click. You can export your photo in a JPG, TIFF, and DNG format. DxO PhotoLab is integrated with Flickr to allow you to save your photos directly to your Flickr account. The default color profiles offered by DxO PhotoLab are sRGB and Adobe RGB. You can also use other color profiles, including ProPhoto RGB (available in a separate library).
DxO PhotoLab is available in two versions: Essential Edition ($129) and Elite Edition ($199). It offers a 30-day trial version to allow you to try the features.
4. ACDSee Photo Studio Professional
ACDSee Photo Studio Professional is another RAW photo editor you can use to replace Adobe Lightroom. You can get this tool either with a one-time purchase option or subscription-based. The interface of ACDSee Photo Studio Professional is divided into 5 modes: Manage, Photos, View, Develop, and Edit. You can go to the Develop mode to retouch your photo and switch to the Edit mode to make the editing such as cropping, resizing, rotating, adding watermark, and so on. ACDSee Photo Studio Professional allows you to export the edited photo in a JPG, TIFF, PNG, PSD, and WebP format. Color profiles you can choose are sRGB, Adobe RGB, ProPhoto RGB, and ColorMatch RGB. ACDSee Photo Studio Professional costs $99 but you try it for free during the trial period.