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

April 30, 2020

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.

Top 5 Best Free RAW Editors

Movavi Photo Editor

Widely known for its huge range of functions paired with a 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 the 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.

Features

  • Artificial intelligence adjustment
  • A tool for removing unwanted objects
  • A wide range of filters and effects

Pros

  • Has a simple interface that’s perfect for beginners
  • AI optimizes images in a single click
  • Works with images in all popular formats

Cons

  • Free trial version is limited

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 equalizer, 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.

Features

  • Professional color management
  • Fast image processing

Pros

  • Compatible with all popular platforms
  • Completely free

Cons

  • Beginners can find it difficult to use

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 operating systems such as Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux. Raw Therapee supports 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.

Features

  • A variety of enhancement tools
  • HDR tone mapping

Pros

  • Supports popular RAW formats
  • Available free of charge

Cons

  • A lack of guides and tutorials

Photivo

A free open-source RAW editing software that 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.

Features

  • Bad pixel detection and correction
  • Correction of chromatic aberration

Pros

  • Works with most RAW formats
  • Powerful editing features

Cons

  • The app is not suitable for beginners

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, 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.

Features

  • 4-channel white balance adjustment
  • Underexposed images processing

Pros

  • Supports popular RAW formats
  • Integrates with other tools, can work with Photoshop

Cons

  • You may need another app to work with color correction

Frequently Asked Questions

Here is our list of the top 5 apps to choose from:

  • Movavi Photo Editor
  • Darktable
  • Raw Therapee
  • Photivo
  • Raw Photo Processor

First, you need to install the appropriate program for editing. Check out our reviews on the best free RAW photo editors above to find the one that suits you best.

If you’re looking for the app to edit RAW files, read our detailed reviews of the best photo editors above. Here are some options from our list:

  • Movavi Photo Editor
  • Darktable
  • Raw Therapee
  • Photivo
  • Raw Photo Processor

If you need a beginner-friendly photo editor, we recommend you check out our reviews of the best free photo editors for Windows and Mac. Follow the links below to learn more.

Best free photo editors for Windows 10

Best free photo-editing software for Mac

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