12 Best Free Lightroom® Alternatives [2024]

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Edited by Ben Jacklin
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Whether you’re a professional photographer or an amateur looking to enhance your photo game, you need a photo editor – but which should you choose? Let’s take a look at the best Lightroom® alternatives on the market today.

Quick summary

Best Lightroom® alternative for mobile editing on a budget: Affinity Photo

Top choice for photo organization and file management: ON1 Photo RAW

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Best Lightroom® alternatives

Best for: creating stunning photos in minutes

1. Movavi Photo Editor

OS: Windows, MacOS

G2 rating: 4.5/5

Movavi Photo Editor is a robust photo editing application, and one of the most popular Lightroom® alternatives for Mac or Windows. The program has a user-friendly interface that’s easy even for beginners to learn. Along with intuitive controls and multiple professional-level tools and features, Movavi also offers a large library of articles and tutorials to help new and seasoned photo editors make the magic happen with every project. A few of the key features included with this Lightroom® alternative are AI-powered retouching and editing tools, background removal, watermarking, color correction, text features, and a large variety of filters and effects. Movavi also offers a free trial of the software, making it a great free Lightroom® alternative for users who don’t mind a watermark.

Key features

  • AI auto enhancing
  • Easy background removal
  • AI photo restoration
  • 100+ filters and effects

Pros:

  • Takes the manual work out of retouching and restoring photos

  • Capable of processing multiple photos at once

  • Includes all of the most popular professional editing tools

Cons:

  • Watermark on free version

Best for: free Lightroom® alternative for veteran users

2. Darktable

OS: Windows, MacOS, Linux

One Camera One Lens rating: 4.2/5

If you’re looking for a Linux alternative, Darktable offers free photo editing software like Lightroom® that’s compatible with multiple operating systems. This open source alternative has downloads available for Windows, MacOS, and Linux. As a freeware project, Darktable’s features are constantly evolving. At the time of this writing, it includes non-destructive editing workflows to let you preserve your image at every step of the editing process. It also offers professional-level color management, multiple image format options, and the ability to automate some repetitive editing tasks. This software is not created for beginners, though. So, if you’re not accustomed to finding solutions on your own and combing through forums for answers, this might not be the application for you.

Key features

  • Professional color management
  • Multiple image formats
  • Automation of repetitive editing tasks
  • Non-destructive editing capability

Pros:

  • Free photo editor like Lightroom®

  • No watermark

  • Convenient editing shortcuts for seasoned users

Cons:

  • Not the most intuitive interface

  • Lacks customer support

Best for: editing photos for free on a Mac

3. Apple Photos

OS: MacOS

PCMag rating: 4/5

Apple Photo is Apple’s built-in Lightroom® alternative. If you have a MacOS device, then you likely already have Apple Photos on your machine. If not, you can find this free Mac Lightroom® alternative in the App Store. Along with its photo editing capabilities, this application also takes some of the more tedious manual work out of photo editing. It automatically declutters and organizes your photo library, and it focuses on the best photos in each batch. So, if you’ve taken hundreds of photos of a subject, this free Lightroom® alternative will essentially sort out the lower-quality shots, saving you time and effort on choosing the shots you most want to edit. Editing tools in the app include resizing, cropping, creating collages, warping, and .GIF creation, along with color correction, filters, and effects.

Key features

  • Professional color correction
  • Auto sorting with focus on the best shots
  • Direct sharing from the app
  • Multiple filters and effects

Pros:

  • Free Lightroom® alternative for Mac

  • Very user-friendly

  • No watermark

Cons:

  • Not available for Windows or Linux

  • Lacks advanced editing tools

Best for: collaborating on photo projects with remote teams

4. Capture One

OS: Windows, MacOS

GetApp rating: 4.7/5

Capture One is a Lightroom® alternative that’s great for on-the-fly edits. The app includes the capability to connect your camera, shoot pictures, and start editing immediately. It also includes collaborative capabilities, like sharing, viewing, rating, tagging, and commenting on photo projects. So, if you’re working with a creative team, you can get quick feedback directly in your photo editor. Its AI tools automate tedious tasks like sharpening focus on a subject and cleaning up extraneous visual noise. Essentially, its strongest point is its ability to automate the not-so-fun parts of photo editing, so that you can focus on the more creative aspects of the job. While Capture One has a free trial version, though, this is not a free Lightroom® alternative. Subscriptions start at $14.92 per month (billed annually) for this Adobe® Lightroom® alternative.

Key features

  • Advanced color editing
  • AI editing and retouching tools
  • Customizable workspace
  • Multiple filters and effects

Pros:

  • Great for collaborative projects

  • Easy to use

  • Easy visual noise reduction

Cons:

  • Limited functionality if you don’t have the latest camera

  • Limited support for different lens profiles

Best for: creating AI-edited photos

5. ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate

OS: Windows

PCMag rating: 3.5/5

Photo Studio Ultimate is ACDSee’s brand new Lightroom® alternative. Users can opt for a lifetime license at $149.99 or an annual subscription at $89 per year. This app boasts a lot of convenient advanced AI tools, including keyword editing, sky definition and replacement, object selection, and edit brushing. It also has an AI-powered portrait retouching assistant and offers non-destructive AI masking. Along with all of its AI-heavy editing features, Photo Studio Ultimate also offers file management capabilities and the ability to migrate photos from Lightroom® and Photoshop®. So, if you’ve started a project in Lightroom®, you can continue your work by moving it over to this Lightroom® alternative. Photo Studio Ultimate is currently only available for Windows, but ACDSee does offer a similar app for MacOS and iOS devices.

Key features

  • Non-destructive AI masking
  • AI-powered portrait retouching
  • Digital asset management

Pros:

  • Easy editing with AI tools

  • Convenient migration from other platforms

Cons:

  • Lacks some manual editing tools and features

  • Heavy emphasis on AI may frustrate seasoned editors

Best for: photo editing on mobile and desktop devices

6. PhotoDirector Essential

OS: Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS

PCMag rating: 4/5

PhotoDirector Essential is a desktop and mobile app that serves well as a Lightroom® alternative for many users. Like some of the other programs like Lightroom® that we’ve reviewed here, this substitute offers several automated features, such as automatic face and body retouching, generative AI tools, and one-click photo enhancements. The generative AI engine lets you create photos from text prompts, or you can use its AI image enhancer to fix photos you’ve taken. Background and object removal is automated, as well, with the option to specifically remove people, animals, or text from a background.

Key features

  • Generative AI text tool
  • Background and object removal
  • One-click photo enhancement

Pros:

  • User-friendly interface

  • Multiple AI editing tools

  • Image layering capabilities

Cons:

  • Lacks popular lens profiles

  • Lag with some functionalities

  • Weak color and noise correction capabilities

Best for: professional photo editing integrated with Photoshop®

7. Corel AfterShot Pro

OS: Windows, MacOS, Linux

PCMag rating: 2.5/5

Corel AfterShot Pro is one of the best Lightroom® alternative programs for professional photographers. It offers robust but simple photo management features, streamlined editing workflows, and fast batch processing. It also integrates with Photoshop®. So, if you want to do any further retouching or editing on an image after you get done with it in Corel, you can send the project directly to Photoshop® without any additional steps or hassle.

Key features

  • Photo management and organization
  • Fast editing workflows
  • Large batch processing

Pros:

  • Convenient integration with Photoshop®

  • Non-destructive image editing

  • Quick processing of large images

Cons:

  • Some lag when initially importing new images

Best for: selective editing and file management with individual apps

8. DxO

OS: Windows, MacOS

PCMag rating: 4/5

DxO’s Lightroom® alternative is actually a suite of programs, much like the Adobe® Suite®. If you’re looking for free apps like Lightroom®, DxO offers free trials of all of its programs, giving you the ability to test out which elements of the suite are best for your photo editing projects. In this family of apps, you’ll find PureRAW, which boasts the ability to enhance and upgrade your photos without upgrading your camera; PhotoLab, which gives you end-to-end editing capabilities for RAW photos; ViewPoint, which offers control of the geometry of your images; and FilmPack, to give digital images the magic of analog style. You can also opt for the entire Nik Collection, which gives you the ability to edit in Lightroom® Classic, DxO PhotoLab, Affinity Photo, and Photoshop®.

Key features

  • Visual noise reduction
  • Optical correction
  • Image warping
  • Color reproduction and correction

Pros:

  • Modular setup lets you choose the tools you want

  • Easy automatic photo adjustments

  • Advanced color reproduction and noise reduction

Cons:

  • No panorama merging

  • Lacks file management capabilities

Best for: all-in-one photo editing

9. ON1 Photo RAW

OS: Windows, MacOS

Trustpilot rating: 4.5/5

ON1 Photo Raw is an all-in-one photo editor and Lightroom® alternative. Developed for both desktop and mobile use, the application includes AI tools, raw photo editing capabilities, image organization, one-click masking, photo merging, and automation of repetitive tasks. You can try this Adobe® Lightroom® alternative for free, but before you fall in love with it, be warned that ON1 Photo Raw is not the most budget-friendly of the apps like Lightroom® out there. Purchasing a lifetime license will cost you between $99 and $199. However, the subscription price is a bit more wallet-friendly at $7.50-12.50 (billed annually).

Key features

  • One-click photo masking
  • Image resizing
  • Filters and effects
  • AI enhancement

Pros:

  • Available as a one-time purchase or subscription

  • Easy-to-learn user interface

  • Mobile and desktop friendly

Cons:

  • Expensive compared with other Adobe® Lightroom® alternatives

  • Cumbersome photo archiving and storage processes

Best for: advanced photo editing for users with a budget

10. Exposure X7

OS: Windows, MacOS

PCMag rating: 3.5/5

As we tried out all the best Lightroom® alternatives available today, Exposure X7 stood out as a stable and robust program. This Lightroom® alternative requires a moderate budget, but for the money, you get easy photo masking, a complete RAW photo editor, one-click photo adjustments, non-destructive layering, and plug-in capabilities with Photoshop® and Lightroom®. While its features are fairly comprehensive, though, Exposure X7 doesn’t have as many of the AI-driven tools as some of the other Lightroom® alternatives we’ve used. If you’re very particular about your editing work and you like to do things by hand, this program will do the job. If you need more automation and assistance, it may not be the best Lightroom® alternative for you.

Key features

  • Keyword and collection organization features
  • 500+ image presets
  • Photo retouching
  • Intelligent masking

Pros:

  • Easy editing and organization

  • Pro-quality RAW photo editing

  • Photo sharing capabilities

Cons:

  • May be expensive for some users

  • Limited free trial

Best for: low-cost iPad photo editing

11. Affinity Photo

OS: Windows, MacOS, iOS

Capterra rating: 4.8/5

Affinity Photo is a professional-level Lightroom® alternative for Windows and MacOS. It’s also compatible with iOS devices and is developed specifically to work on iPads as well as desktops. While Affinity Photo is a paid program and therefore not the best free alternative to Lightroom®, it does offer an affordable Lightroom® alternative for iPad users at just $18.49. For mobile editors working on their tablets, Affinity could be the best Lightroom® alternative, but desktop users should know that the full version will run you $164.99 for a lifetime license.

Key features

  • Full RAW development
  • Unlimited layers and effects
  • Compound masks
  • Asset organization

Pros:

  • Tablet version includes all features of full version

  • Powerful brush engine offers a great painting experience

  • Professional photo management

Cons:

  • Large pricing disparity between desktop and mobile versions

  • Lacks design templates

Best for: free photo editing for beginners and veteran photographers

12. Raw Therapee

OS: Windows, MacOS, Linux

Capterra rating: 4.5/5

Raw Therapee is a completely free Lightroom® alternative available for Windows, Mac, or Linux computers. Unlike a lot of open source free Lightroom® alternatives, Raw Therapee was designed with beginners in mind as much as veteran Linux users and professional editors. While the program was designed and developed by volunteers and therefore doesn’t have a dedicated customer service department, it does have a forum dedicated to answering user questions. It doesn’t have some of the AI tools that other programs have, but it does include a full suite of editing tools that can help you take your photos to the next level.

Key features

  • Non-destructive editing
  • Advanced color editing and correction
  • Automatic ghost masking

Pros:

  • Completely free Lightroom® alternative

  • Intuitive interface

Cons:

  • Lacks AI-driven tools

  • No image organization or management

Choosing an Adobe® Lightroom® alternative free

So, how can you choose a Lightroom® alternative to fit your needs? Here are a few tips to help ensure that you make the best decision:

  • Consider cost

    If you’re a professional photographer with a budget for photo editing software, the best Lightroom® alternative for you will be different than if you need a low-cost or free program. While cost is not the only factor, it’s definitely one to keep in mind, and it brings us to our next tip.

  • Compare tools and features

    Some of the more expensive Adobe® Lightroom® alternatives cost more because they come with more features, such as AI tools and unlimited storage and file management. Consider what you’ll be doing with the software and which tools you’ll need most. If you’re retouching and removing backgrounds from a lot of photos, you’ll want a program that automates those tasks for you.

  • How easy is it to learn the program?

    If you’ve used Lightroom® before, you may want to opt for a program that closely mimics the Lightroom® experience. If you’re a brand new user, you won’t have to worry about unlearning old habits or getting used to a different interface, but you will need to determine if the program you choose is going to work well for you. If a program is too hard to learn, it doesn’t matter how many features it has.

  • What resources are available to help you improve your editing?

    With the user interface in mind, some programs – like Movavi Photo Editor – have a ton of resources online in the form of video tutorials and informative articles. Others lack those resources. Check out who’s using the program you’re considering buying before you make your purchase, and see if you can find tutorials to help you craft equally stunning images.

  • How much AI do you plan to use?

    Traditionally, photo editing programs have had little to no artificial intelligence or machine learning features. As these technologies become more prevalent, you’ll see more and more AI tools available in the best Lightroom® alternatives. For some programs, this is as simple as AI-driven automated tools that remove backgrounds, people, and objects from photos. Others will include generative AI tools that allow you to create or enhance images with keywords. Consider which tools you want and which ones you can live without as you make your choice.

  • Don’t forget about customer support

    Finally, what are you going to do if something goes wrong with your download or if the program has a glitch or bug? Some of the best Lightroom® alternatives we reviewed here have very little customer support, which can leave you wishing you’d made a different choice. A program like Movavi Photo Editor will give you the support and resources you need if you run into any issues.

Summary

Whether you’re looking for a Lightroom® online alternative, a mobile app, or a desktop photo editing program, there are a lot of great Lightroom® alternatives available today. With the reviews in this article, you should have the information you need to choose the best Lightroom® alternative for you. If you’re still not sure which one to choose, why not try a free trial of Movavi Photo Editor today?

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Frequently asked questions

What can I use instead of Lightroom®?

Our top Lightroom® alternative picks are:

  • Movavi Photo Editor – for professional photo editing with AI tools.
  • Capture One – collaborating on photo edits with teams.
  • Raw Therapee – for free photo editing for beginners.
  • Affinity Photo – low-cost photo editing on an iPad.
  • ON1 Photo RAW – all-in-one photo editing and storage.
  • PhotoDirector Essential – editing photos on desktop and mobile devices.
  • Darktable – free photo editing for experienced users.

Is there any free alternative for Lightroom®?

A few free Lightroom® alternatives are: 

  • Movavi Photo Editor  
  • Raw Therapee
  • Darktable
  • GIMP
  • Paint.NET
  • LightZone
  • Pixlr

Which is better: Luminar or Lightroom®?

Lightroom® is more familiar to many users than Luminar, but beginners may prefer Luminar’s user-friendly and intuitive interface. Luminar is also faster at processing images than Lightroom®, which is a big advantage for photographers that work with larger files and big batches of image files.

Do professionals use Lightroom®?

A lot of professional photographers use Lightroom® because it offers photo editing features, along with organizational and file management tools. It’s not the only platform that offers both editing and organization, and many pros and amateur photographers are exploring Lightroom® alternatives.

Is there a better app than Lightroom®?

While Lightroom® is a good app for photo editing and management, more and more photographers are looking for apps that work on mobile devices as well as on their desktops. Mobile photo editing apps make it easier to enhance images on the fly.

What can I use instead of Lightroom®?

If you’re looking for a Lightroom® alternative, we recommend Movavi Photo Editor. This app includes comprehensive photo editing tools, and it has a wide variety of AI-driven tools that make it easy to create gorgeous images without hours of tedious work.

Is Darktable better than Lightroom®?

Darktable is a similar app to Lightroom®. Some users prefer it to Lightroom® because it is the best free Lightroom® alternative. However, like many open source programs, it lacks customer support. Users may have issues if they aren’t accustomed to troubleshooting and fixing bugs in the software they use.

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