Movavi Photo Editor

  • Easy retouching and digital makeup application
  • Creative filters and texture overlays
  • Object removal and background replacement
  • Customizable captions

Edited by Nataly Bogorad

October 4, 2019

Best Free RAW Photo Editor

While it’s easy to find free picture editing programs for most everyday editing needs, professional photographers tend to use expensive advanced software – particularly when their work involves working with RAW images. However, if photography is your non-commercial hobby, there is no need to invest in it that much. A free RAW photo editor is no myth – there are quite a few of them out there.

You might have to play around with a few variants to find the best free RAW editor for yourself. Most color correction and retouching tools are common for the majority of editing programs, but some specific instruments may work better with one option than the other. The interface of each program is different, too – some might even surprise you with a complete absence of sliders, some may remind you of popular software that you have already used before.

So, what is RAW file format and why you would need a designated free RAW photo editor to work with it? The two main formats available for most photo cameras are JPEG and RAW. JPEG is a compressed file format which is compatible with most platforms and programs. It is easier to work with, but it is far less flexible in editing, as most of the information is lost.

A RAW file is the type of file that maintains all image data recorded by sensor at the moment when the picture is taken. RAW format allows you to shoot higher quality pictures, as no information gets compressed. Most camera manufacturers have their own RAW formats. Canon has CR2, Nikon has NEF, and so on. Professional photographers tend to shoot in RAW, as it leaves them with more possibilities to correct and enhance the images.

Best Free RAW Editor: Top-5

Movavi Photo Editor

Widely known for its huge range of functions paired with user-friendly interface, Movavi Photo Editor allows processing RAW images, too. Although the full package is not free, most tools are available in the trial version. The latter one doesn’t allow saving RAW images, but you can still open the file in the program and explore its potential. This is probably the best free RAW photo editor for beginners, as it is very easy to navigate and offers most popular instruments for color correction and retouching. Professional photographers will most likely find Movavi Photo Editor equally useful, as it massively facilitates image editing. Extra features include easy object removal, background replacement, makeup tools and a library of artistic filters.

Movavi Photo Editor

The easiest way to turn any snapshot into an eye candy

  • Improve quality and retouch blemishes
  • Add effects and filters
  • Crop, straighten, and flip pictures
  • Change image backgrounds and remove objects

Darktable

As you can tell from its name, this software is like a digital darkroom for editing images. Once you download it, it will act as a database for your RAW photos – making it easy to search for them by tags, color labels and other parameters. Darktable offers a lot of correction tools such as equaliser, chromatic aberrations, highlight reconstruction, and many more – enough to polish your edit to perfection. It works equally well as a beginner-level photo editor for Instagram pictures as well as a high-end software for polishing magazine photoshoots. The program has been translated into 21 languages. It is said to be very similar to its rival Raw Therapee: there are quite a lot of comparative reviews. It may be worth looking through some or trying out both to make your own choice.

Raw Therapee

One of the most popular editing software which seems to be just too good to be free. Yet it is – for all popular operation systems such as Mac OS X, Windows and Linux. Raw Therapee support much of the widely used cameras and filetypes. It may take you quite a while to familiarize yourself with the program as it is easy to get lost in all those panels and instruments. Key features include HDR tone mapping, deep exposure color correction, bar graph matching and a selection of various enhancement tools. The program has previously received some complaints regarding its random crashes, but the developers seem to have fixed that in the last update. Another frequently received complaint is that there aren’t many guides and tutorials available, so you’ll probably have to learn it the hard way – all by yourself. The good news is, there is so much that you can do with this program that you will barely regret the time lost exploring.

Photivo

A free open source RAW editing software which supports most Bitmap and RAW images. Aside from common editing and retouching tools, its features include CA correction, bad pixel reduction, wavelet Denise and median filters. Some users have claimed Photivo to possess the most flexible and effective denoise and a very good local contrast (fake HDR) instrument. A bonus point is that Photivo allows workflow integration with GIMP for importing and exporting images. That said, it is necessary to note that Photivo is not a beginner level software – you need to be a little more photo editing-savvy to take full advantage of this program. It is currently available in six languages and can be used on Mac OS, Windows and Linux.

Raw Photo Processor

Despite being one of the simplest editing programs, Raw Photo Editor has quite a lot to offer. What’s very different about its interface is that you won’t see any sliders for changing parameters – you’ll have to get used to working with numbers instead. It may seem tricky at first, but once you get it, you will love this editing software for its considerable array of instruments. It is said to be particularly good for working with underexposed images, since it offers an advanced tool for exposure compensation completed with 4-channel white balance adjustment and histogram. A little drawback is that it doesn’t let you play around with color correction that much – you’ll have to finalize your edit with alternative software to do that. Raw Photo Processor is only available for Mac OS, but reportedly there are a few Windows users out there who manage to find solutions to work with it. The reason for their persistence is that this program has one of the best RAW converters amongst its competitors.

Movavi Photo Editor

The easiest way to turn any snapshot into an eye candy

  • Improve quality and retouch blemishes
  • Add effects and filters
  • Crop, straighten, and flip pictures
  • Change image backgrounds and remove objects