The Best Photo Editing Software Right Now

Written by Robert Lowdon

Robert Lowdon is an internationally published commercial photographer based out of Toronto, Canada. He spends his time photographing architecture and industrial projects for the most part.

Published November 23, 2017

golden sunlight washes across a butte in colorado

I originally posted this article back in 2016 and a few things have changed since then in terms of editing software. In 2022, I think these are still the best photo editing software out there right now. I have added a few more below. Here we go again.

As a professional photographer having a good command of photo editing software is essential. In the days of film the photographer would often send the completed shoot off to the lab and that was it. Now with the advent of digital photography post processing has become an essential component to any shoot. I could and still do argue that the better a photographer is in camera, the better the final result, but this article is not about that.  This is completely about the best photo editing software on the market in 2022.

Best photo editing software right now

My Top Picks for the Best Photo Editing Software

Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop is still the king when it comes to photo editing. Adobe consisting does a great job with “upping” their “photo editing skills. The amount that can be done in Photoshop is down right amazing. From simple processes, to complex steps with hundreds of actions, Photoshop is a powerful tool that should not be ignored.

I strongly encourage all photographers and amateurs alike to get comfortable creating their own actions. This tool is powerful and literally will save you hours if not days in your workflows.

Adobe Photoshop CC, or creative cloud, is the latest version. Because the product is now delivered electronically there is a steady stream of updates and new technologies. For final processing photoshop is still the king and is currently best photo editing software right now.

Adobe Bridge

Unless you work in the photographic industry, you are probably not familiar with Adobe Bridge. Bridge is a raw file editor and photo management tool (camera raw included). As a professional photographer you will usually dump your files into bridge and then take them to Photoshop from there. I generally spend more time in Bridge these days than I do in Photoshop. My photography work has evolved to a place where I am more focused on the reality of the scene or circumstance than I am of a hyper edited finished photo. What better than reality I say?

In 2022, Bridge is still a great program for initial photo intake and raw editing. It does feel a bit slow though, but certainly faster than Lightroom or capture one. I still thinks it qualifies as close to best photo editing software right now, but it is losing ground. Also, the user interface has been systematically getting worse. It just seems to get worse every year, and that just sucks. I love bridge, but I use it less and less now.

Capture One

Capture One by Phase One is a probably completely unknown if you don’t work in the industry. If you shoot medium format digital cameras it is your standard. Capture One is basically Phase One’s version of Lightroom. It is a great Raw processor that can give phenomenal results to the commercial photographer. The only problem is that for some reason I find it very temperamental with my landscape photography work. Sometimes I get great results other times, not so much…

Capture One is famed for it’s life-like skin tones, and this is true. I notice a better gradation and even colors in skin when using the program. As of 2022 Capture One has been overtaking Adobe Camera Raw, used in both Lightroom and Bridge as the total quality leader.

A two part editing choice for the best photo editing software right now include Capture One for as a “pre editor” and Adobe photoshop as a “final editor”.

Adobe Lightroom

Ah, Lightroom. You either love this program or not so much. I tend to lean a little to the right on Lightroom, it’s a great program but it generally does not suit my needs. I think it is more so just a matter of style. I was trained on bridge, and I really like it. I also tend to go against the grain in life and in my photography work. For instance, I prefer PCs over Macs, I use Nikon over Canon, I don’t like taking cell phone pictures, and quite time in nature makes me whole, compared to being a social butterfly.

Now Lightroom is a great program, though, and it is very useful and I still do use it on regular occasion. The tethering capabilities of Lightroom, in my opinion, are best in class. It’s mostly the importing / exporting requirement that I tend to despise. If that was archived (or thrown away) I would probably use Lightroom every day. Maybe it is just that Lightroom is just to light. I don’t feel it really does anything tremendously well, and quite frankly Capture One now beats it badly. For those reasons I find that Adobe Lightroom is not best photo editing software in 2022.


Photo editing software helps, but the single major factor is the conditions you photograph in. © robert lowdon

Photo editing software helps, but the single major factor is the conditions you photograph in. © Robert Lowdon

Editing Software Honorable Mentions:

Here we have some programs and online resources that make editing fun and easy. They are better suited to the photo enthusiast, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking pictures for fun. I reiterate, there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG WITH TAKING PHOTOS FOR FUN.

Instagram

Instagram took over the world with their photo filters. It has influenced the whole industry and is worth a look if you just want to get something out there. It kind of introduced the world to the idea of photo editing in a way. Good or bad, it has changed things a lot. A lot of the filters mimic vintage camera looks from light leaks to flares and color casts. It has kind of opened things up creatively, and indirectly created a greater freedom in pro photography.

Gimp

Gimp is a free open source photo editing program. If you are an enthusiast it is worth a look. There is a lot of people and photographers who take advantage of gimp as a free photography editing tool. In my opinion it does not qualify as best photo editing software, but is the best free photo editing software.

Photoshop Elements

This is an extremely light version of Photoshop for mobile devices. It is worth a look if most of your photos come from a mobile device. Most photos do not require a lot of editing, so elements should do the trick for most people and possibly be best photo editing software depending on your needs.

I reiterate, there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG WITH TAKING PHOTOS FOR FUN.

Check out some additional photo editing software right here.

Did you agree with my choices for best photo editing software in 2022? Let me know in the comments.


If it comes down to editing or shooting i rather be outside shooting every time. Near the columbia ice fields, banff - jasper ab© robert lowdon

If it comes down to editing or shooting I rather be outside shooting every time. Near the Columbia Ice Fields, Banff – Jasper AB

© Robert Lowdon

New Additions to the List of Photo Editing Software

These are the software programs to keep on your radar. These photo editing software program are pretty good and should do the trick for most photographers.

Corel Paintshop Pro

This program is solid. It is almost as good as photoshop and has most of the same tools for a photographer to use. It unfortunately is about the same price as Lightroom, so I wouldn’t recommend jumping ship anytime soon.

Affinity Photo Pro

My understanding is that basically this is a photoshop, and camera clone. It seems to have a lot of good tools, and support. The price is right, and this does seem to be a pretty good option. I like the fact that they have a book for sale, right on their site. Remember the days when you got a free instruction book with everything you bought? Well, those days are gone, but at least this photo editing program manual is affordable.

Google Photos

While I wouldn’t use this for editing photos, I love the fact that it sends me photo animations of my dog. Also, form photos taken years gone by. I should elaborate that I like to take random photos of my family with my cell phone. I think everyone should. This is linked to my google photos account. It’s like getting presents every now and then. Tell me who doesn’t like a present.

Apple Photos

Who cares…. Just kidding, I’m not a mac user. If you are tell me more about it below.

Snapseed

This one is pretty good for everything it does, and comes with high reviews. But, it has a large drawback and that is you have to use this photo editing app on a smart device. I wouldn’t care as much if they weren’t toting it as professional imaging software, it’s not. Editing photos on your phone just sucks, it’s cumbersome, slow and not user friendly. Snapseed is cool, but it is not a pro tool. The thing is, if it works for you go for it, but it is not the best photo editing software for photographers.

…the best photo editing software is the one that works for you.

Which Software is Best for Photo Editing?

As of right now in 2022, Photoshop combined with Capture One is best photo editing software. You use capture one as your raw converter and editor. Than you would export to photoshop for finishing touches, cloning, clean up etc.

In Conclusion

Really the best photo editing software is the one that works for you. If you enjoy the program you use, that is great, and who am I to tell you any different. In my opinion, I still think the adobe tools are the best for my needs, and that won’t be the same for everyone. So I hope this list gives you some insight into what is out there right now.

Have anything to add? Am I completely wrong or right on point? Leave a comment below.

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8 Comments

  1. Adelle

    What’s the advantage of using Bridge over just opening your file in Photoshop?

    Reply
  2. Robert Lowdon

    It allows you to correct colour, contrast etc. in a faster way along with the ability to do it over multiple images.

    Reply
  3. Brian Jones

    I’m using KrojamSoft PhotoViewerPro for my photo editing….

    It’s awesome in use…

    Reply
  4. Ron Bates

    Where is PaintShop Pro in the list? I personally bought it a few weeks ago after trying the free trial, I got a good discount here http://www.paintshoppro.com/en/pages/coupons/ and bought it for a very reasonable price. I might not be the right person to say so, since I am only a beginner in photography, but I really think this is an amazing software and should be on the list.

    Reply
    • Robert Lowdon

      Hi Ron,

      Admittedly, I am not that familiar with the latest version of their software. I had gave it it a try some years ago. At the end of the day the best software will always be what works better for each individual person. For example, the constant debate over camera raw vs lightroom. I think we often get muddled in our debates over what gear is the best, when it is our skills as a photographer that defines the quality of our work.

      Thanks for the input 🙂

      Reply
  5. Amira Leyva Cervantes

    Photoshop is very advanced tool. Its costly too. For who are just starting out, they can use Gimp, which is free. It doesn’t replace Photoshop, but has the things you have said. You can add "Picasa 3" in your list. its a very good software and free also. your article is amazing. thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  6. Susan Smitha

    The photo editing software you have listed in your article is great. But now in 2018, the number of popular software has increased. Affinity, Acorn, Krita, Paintshop Pro are also popular software. Their service is actually good. but one thing is sure is that Adobe Photoshop is #1 popular software till now. It is the king of all photo editing apps. I don’t know if you have tried this but I want to request you to update this article or write another article about this newly popular software. Your review is really good and that’s why I am asking you to do this. Thanks

    Reply
  7. Nail Wilsone

    I use Photoshop Light room which very special for me. i say everyone if you really want to work this industry then just go with light room. And thanks for add this awesome software on your list.

    Reply
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