Photo editors are responsible for creating the amazing visuals we see in magazines, on websites, and even on our televisions.
Their work is integral to the visual aesthetic of any medium, but they need the right tools to do their job efficiently and effectively.
There are countless photo editing tools available today, so it can be difficult to know which ones to invest in. To make things easier, here’s a comprehensive list of 14 essential photo editing tools that every photographer should have at their disposal:
1. Adobe Photoshop
This industry-standard software provides an extensive range of features and functions for editing photos.
It has powerful retouching capabilities, enabling editors to erase blemishes, adjust exposure levels, etc.
For example, if you wish to take a Mac screenshot without drop shadow, you are usually better off editing the image later, and a tool like Photoshop offers just that.
Generally, whenever we think about image editors, Adobe Photoshop is often the first thing that comes to mind.
It also helps that you can find tons of helpful tutorials available online for mastering its advanced features.
2. Adobe Lightroom
An invaluable tool for any photographer or photo editor looking to organize and edit large collections of images quickly and easily.
Its library module allows you to sort your images by metadata like date taken or keywords chosen by you for easy searching later on.
Adobe Lightroom also has a powerful set of basic image editing features as well as presets for various effects such as black & white conversions or vintage filters. Mastering Adobe Lightroom is one of the most essential photography skill to learn.
3. Corel PaintShop Pro
A great alternative to Photoshop with many similar features but at a lower cost point.
Its intuitive user interface makes it easy to pick up and start using right away, while its robust set of editing tools is excellent for more advanced users too.
Moreover, Corel includes some unique plugins like HDR Tone Mapping, which no other software has yet been able to replicate successfully.
A free, open-source program that can serve as a great introduction to photo editing without all the bells and whistles found in professional-level software packages like Photoshop or Lightroom.
It has a wide range of basic image manipulation capabilities, including masking layers, color correction, and cloning tools that allow you to make quick adjustments without ever leaving the program’s interface.
For a new user, it might take a while to get adjusted to the UI, especially if you have been relying on other tools. Nevertheless, it is not that much of an obstacle to overcome, so keep that in mind.
5. Capture One
This powerful RAW processor is designed specifically for photographers who want high-quality results from their digital images straight out of the camera without needing any post-processing skills or knowledge about color theory.
Capture One has lightning-fast speeds making it perfect for those who rely heavily on tethered shooting, and its adjustable curves allow you to create beautiful contrasty black & white conversions with ease – something which can often be tricky when using multiple adjustment layers in other software.
With the support offered by top brands such as Sony, Fujifilm, Olympus & more, this impressive piece of software is definitely worth considering if you’re looking for an upgrade from Lightroom or CaptureOne Pro 9+ (the previous version).
6. Pixlr Editor
For those times when you don’t have access to your desktop computer but still need some basic photo editing done right away, this online app is perfect.
Offering a level of sophistication comparable with the likes of GIMP or even Photoshop itself – this could be just what you need if you find yourself stuck with only a mobile device on hand.
Autodesk’s Pixlr Editor offers not only simple adjustments such as brightness/contrast balance for harsh overexposed skies but also more advanced options like layer blending modes plus lots more besides – certainly worth checking out before doing your job with other tools.
Perfectly suited for times when cropping, resizing, and rotating images needs to be done quickly and easily, Pixenate is an all-in-one solution.
Offering an array of useful features, including text overlays, custom borders, frames, shapes, etc. This easy yet powerful website helps take away the hassle of tedious manual tasks, freeing up time that can be spent elsewhere.
For photo editors wanting quick and simple, non-destructive effects applied quickly, Fotor might be just the right option.
Having preset filters alongside numerous color options and much more, no matter how complex the task may appear, Fotor comes with various solutions within its online platform tailored toward achieving maximum results.
9. Movavi Photo Editor
An ideal choice if wanting reliable results while enabling full control over all aspects involved within an edit, Movavi’s array of options available ranges from traditional methods, such as brightness and contrast, to new-age technologies like adding a blur effect and much more.
This highly adaptable platform offers something suitable for whatever type of project is being undertaken.
Thinking outside of the box? Then LunaPic could offer what is required.
Emphasizing solely on special effects, LunaPic opens the door to possibilities, allowing photo editors to reach wildly creative results.
From classic film grain emulation through trippy kaleidoscope patterns, whatever goal is being pursued, the tool’s open-source platform stands ready to meet the challenge head-on.
Looking to add a creative spark to your projects? BeFunky’s vast library of backgrounds, textures, stickers, and frames ensures that no limit to the combinations is possible.
Create artistic posters, magazine covers, and many more possibilities – BeFunky’s easy-to-use interface, combined with its perfect selection tools, makes creating quick and enjoyable.
Ideally suited for instances when one needs to draw something from scratch, SumoPaint offers a wealth of features on its online version.
Boasting custom brushes, layer masks, and even cloning tools, this powerful app ensures photo editors can create whatever ideas set them free.
13. Zoner Photo Studio
For those who are looking for a complete package, look no further than Zoner Photo Studio.
Offering a plethora of adjustments, both photographic and graphic in nature, all within one complete program – there is nothing like it out there.
Its optimal performance makes it the go-to choice considering no time will be wasted when editing.
Last but by no means least – Paint.net is the application everyone needs.
This free software offers a vast array of features, making it the ultimate choice for those wanting reliability over anything else.
Fitting perfectly into any workflow and offering some of the most advanced tools currently available within one program – let’s just say it is definitely worth having installed.
With all that said, you should have more than enough options from all the tools you might need as a photo editor.
Each option mentioned in the article has something unique to it, which benefits you—the consumer.
Some of the suggestions are free, while others have some sort of a paid model (additional features or a one-time fee for a lifetime license).
Ultimately, it comes down to your needs, but even the pickiest of editors should be able to find software that fits them.
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