For many years, Adobe’s Photoshop and Lightroom editing apps had little competition among serious photographers for post-processing images. Enter 2018, and the floodgates have opened! Among recent additions to seriously consider are Affinity Photo (and Affinity Photo for the iPad – a separate app), Luminar 2018, Aurora HDR 2018 and ON1 Photo RAW.
In addition to stand-alone editing programs are plugins that can enhance or add a multitude of effects to images, from subtle or glamorous changes in portraits to wild and striking contrasts and colors in landscapes. Nik users can stop mourning the loss of probably the most diverse and easy-to-use plugins with the announcement that DxO Labs has purchased the popular collection from Google, which recently announced it would no longer continue to service and develop the apps. Those apps are now available free (currently) through the Dx0 website and can be used with many programs, including Affinity, CC2018, Lightroom, ON1 RAW and Luminar 2018. Not all of Nik’s collection is back up-and-running with Adobe products, but it’s well worthwhile to add these to any serious post-processing program(s).
Most editing apps offer a “free” trial download version that is fully operational for 30 days, and each has online support and training videos and/or manuals to shorten the learning curve.
Photoshop and Lightroom users who find Adobe’s subscription-based offerings both expensive and inconvenient might find Affinity Photo an excellent alternative. In addition to having a strikingly similar layout and tools, the video tutorials are second-to-none and are narrated in a charming British voice. The iPad version may be the best stand-alone and comprehensive photo-editing app for the iPad, with a user interface more intuitive and easy to use than most laptop and desktop editing apps. Moreover, each is offered for a one-time price, with free updates as they become available.
ON1 Photo RAW and ON1 Photo have evolved from earlier versions of editing and effects software, including the excellent “Genuine Fractals” enlarging plugin into full-service photo editing programs with hundreds of presets that provide many possible effects. The user interface is straightforward, and RAW shooters have a multitude of adjustments available in one easy-to-see column. Previews for effects make choices simple and direct. Outputting can be done in various popular formats directly from the develop screen.
Luminar 2018 is another new member to the post-processing club, and seems to have taken the best of each of the other programs’ tools and layouts and incorporated them into a one-time-purchase, stand-alone editing app. Opening a RAW image into Luminar affords the user nearly every option and tool imaginable right from the start-up screen, including batch processing large groups of images.
Both Luminar and ON1 can also be used as plugins for Photoshop should the user prefer to use the Adobe product as the main editing software enhanced by special features of either of the other products. The filters and presets in either, for example, can be added to a Photoshop action for a specific effect or style for a single image, or when processing a batch, such as with portraits, weddings or sports images.
Whether you are new to post-processing images or a seasoned veteran, download a trial version, watch the introduction and/or video tutorials and explore the newest and easy-to-use editing apps. You’ll be amazed at how easy it can be to make your digital pictures look even better than you thought they could be!