Top 10 best photo editors 2021 to deliver you breathtaking photos [Free & Paid]
Summary: When it comes to photo editing, twice as much can be accomplished with half the effort given the right photo editor. In this article, we've rounded up the top 10 best photo editing software for you to choose to help you do more with less.
Photo editing is a job taking a lot of time, energy and of course, patience as well. However, even if you have plenty of time and unyielding energy, your patience might wear thin if the photo editor software is not right for you. Thus, to edit photos with top efficiency, how the photo editor software you’ve chosen can best match your capability is quite important. Here in this article today, we will show you the top 10 best photo editing software, free & paid, to aid you in your photo editing tasks, so that you can pick one up to help you get things done with half the effort.
Content Quick Sneak
- Section 1. What makes a perfect photo editor
- Section 2. Best photo editors you can buy for desktops
- Section 3. Best free photo editors you can pick up
- Section 4. Final Pick
- Section 5. Related FAQs
When looking for the best photo editing software, the first thing we need to consider is that if you are ready to pay for it or not. If you are a professional photographer, a website designer, or a photo editing expert, then it’s better to go with industry-level professional photo editing programs, such as Adobe Photoshop and the likes. However, if you primary object is to make your daily photos, such as selfies and food pictures, or pets look nicer, then a free photo editor software or even a simple photo editor like the built-in Windows Photos might be enough to cover your basic photo editing needs.
On the other hand, it’s also equally important to check whether the candidate is compatible with your operating system if you are going to use it on a desktop or laptop. Most photo editors will run no problem on Windows platform, but if you’re running a Mac computer, then your choices may comparatively fall fewer.
Then, it’s about the features. Generally, there is a set of criteria as what makes a good photo editing software, to be more specific, see below:
- Its photo editing versatility and depth
- Its ease of use and user-friendliness
- Whether it is traditional or AI-powered
- Its (batch) processing power
- Its customization and creative freedom
- Its supported input/output file formats
- Its organizing and syncing capacity
- Whether it can access your photo library
- Its sharing options to social media
Last but certainly not least is your own photo editing expertise and experience. As we may all aware, cropping a photo or adding filters to it is one thing, but adjusting its contrast, brightness and saturation, paint brushing and cloning objects, and making composite images is totally another. If you are already a pro guy knowing almost everything about photo editing, that would be perfect as you can handle any photo editor out there with no sweat, however, if you're a beginner who has just started the long photo editing journey, then it is highly recommended you go with some comparatively easy photo editing software that also comes with prompt tips to guide you through each tweak so that you can learn your skills in the process. And there is another possibility, in case you’re in a time crunch or simply has no intention to master all the photo editing skills by heart, then your best option would be an AI-powered photo editing software, because photo editing programs of this type usually do almost everything with their well-designed smart algorithms, except that you have to click a few buttons.
In this part, we will introduce you a number of desktop or laptop photo editors best for users with different levels of photo editing skills and experience. Some of them work only on Windows PCs, other on Macs, only a few on both. And we shall compare each of their pros and cons to help you better decide which one to choose.
Photo Enhancer AI developed by DVDFab Software is an AI-powered photo editing software featuring world’s 1st complete AI photo enhancement solution package. With the state-of-the-art artificial technology available today, this easy photo editor packs four independent working modules, namely, PhotoPefect, Enlarge, Sharpen, and Denoise, each focuses on a primary photo editing task.
- PhotoPerfect module — an easy photo editing software easy enough for your to maximize your photos quality as if they were shot with a DSLR camera in the first place, simply by one click. During the process, this photo editing software will remove halos, digital artifacts, chromatic aberration from your photos to create vast and vivid landscapes, or highly detailed and accurate architectural scenes.
See below how the PhotoPerfect module can edit a photo to match the DSLR quality:
- Enlarge module — a simple photo editor that upscales photos from low resolution to higher levels, using the super-resolution technology based on deep convolutional neural networks. You can enlarge your photo resolution by up to 40 times its original resolution without perceivable quality loss.
See how to edit a photo to enlarge its resolution with the Enlarge module below:
Tips: although the main focus of this module is enlarging your photos, it still allows you to adjust the noise level and remove blurs.
- Sharpen module — a smart photo editor that’s smarter than you can probably imagine, capable of intelligently removing motion blurs and out-of-focus burs from your photos so that you see more stunning details of your photos.
See below how the Sharpen module can edit a photo to remove all its blurs:
- Denosie module — an easy photo editor that automatically remove all types of noise from your photos that are shot under higher ISO settings or in low-light environment to make them look smoother, cleaner, more realistic and breathtaking.
See below how the Denoise module can edit a photo to balance its noise level:
DVDFab Photo Enhancer AI is distributed as a shareware, but it offers 30-day free evaluation period for you to try out all its features and functionalities. If you’re looking for a photo editor download, feel free to download this photo software at DVDFab’s download center. Be aware: If you’re running this program for the 1st time on your computer, you need to download some relevant AI models. But you only have to do this once, not on your 2nd run and thereafter.
Available on: only Windows as of now
Price: $79.99/year or $129.99/lifetime
- AI-powered, machine-learning capable super-resolution technology
- It automatically takes care almost everything for you regards photo editing
- Simple and uncluttered UI design that’s super easy to use
- Supports batch processing to save your valuable time
- Does not offer too much freedom for you to customize your settings
- Not comaptbile with macOS yet
As a macOS oriented photo editing software, Pixelmator utilizes macOS built-in libraries to create fast and powerful photo editing tools. By doing this way, it can seamlessly integrate with other photo editing tools, such as iPhoto and Aperture, as well as iCloud. Widely known as Mac’s Photoshop killer, this photo software gives you access to improved tools like effects, brushes, and color presets. Also, the software comes equipped with content-aware filler, which immediately fills the intentionally made blank spaces with pixels copied from the surrounding sections.
Available on: only macOS as of now
Price: $59.99 with free trial
- Pretty clean interface that is easy to use
- Offers a variety of effects beyond image adjustments
- Supports a range of program customizations
- Painting tools are effective and bug-free
- Photo editing control feels kind of limited
- Lacks design tools such as CMYK or RAW
- Only compatible with macOS yet
Undoubtedly, Adobe is still the world’s number 1 leader whenever photo editing is concerned. Its Photoshop CC is still the most powerful photo editing software ever. However, just like you cannot expect everyone to become a professional photographer, you cannot make everyone to master all photo editing techniques offered by such kind of complicated photo editing programs. This is why Elements is here for. Powered by the same code as Photoshop CC, PS Elements is much more accessible and far easier to learn. It offers more consumer-style photo editing tools than Photoshop CC, while still provides both beginners even many serious photographers with the creative functionality they want and need.
Available on: both Windows and macOS
Price: $99.99 with free trial
- Easy photo editing for beginners
- Powerful creative photo editing tools for serious photographers
- Fun and useful AI-driven automation
- Auto creation feature cannot be turned off
Okay, another sibling of Photoshop CC from the prolific Adobe family! But unlike its bros of PS CC and Elements, the Lightroom is more positioned as an easy photo editing software for quick and easy touch-ups. Available not just for Windows PCs and Macs, this cloud-based photo software is also accessible from Android and iOS devices, allowing you to access and perform your photo edit literally from anywhere, and on virtually any device.
Available on: Windows, macOS, iOS and Android
- Excellent photo editing tools
- Full-resolution cloud backup
- Auto tagging of generic keywords
- Great interactive tutorials
- Can't rename a photo or edited version
- No side-by-side zoomable comparison of photos in library
For many ways, Corel PaintShop Pro is the photo editing software that has been considered as the best Photoshop alternative. As a photo editor for PC only, it is easy for novices to understand, and offers some additional tools, such as 360-degree photo editing and Creative graphic design features.
Available on: only Windows as of now
Price: £69.99 with 30 days free trial
- Great help system with integrated learning tools
- Powerful features and creative tools for advanced users
- Excellent content aware cloning
- New ability to copy/paste layer styles
- Only runs on Windows yet
- Lacks some advanced features as a Photoshop alternative
Affinity Photo is also one of the popular photo editing software applications offering powerful photo editing tools, including the resolution-independent editing, RAW processing within the interface and many other robust features, such as the Photoshop-like exposure controls, paintbrushes, layers and more. It can even open, read and edit Photoshop PSD files.
Available on: both Windows and macOS
Price: $49.99 with free trial
- High-powered photo editing tools
- RAW processing capability within workspace
- Editing of very-high-resolution images in real time
- Can read, open and edit Photoshop PSD files
- Steep learning curve for novices
- Lack 3D or internal vector designing tools
With a reasonable and one-off price, Luminar 4 is an easy photo editing software worth your attention. However, being easy does not necessarily mean simple. In fact, this photo software packs quite a long list of robust features when it comes to photo editing, among which, there are tools aimed for quick and easy photo edits or fixes, including a fast automatic correction feature for lens distortion, chromatic aberration and removing fringes, as well as over 40 non-destructive filters to enhance your photos.
Available on: both Windows and macOS
Price: $69 with free trial
- Streamlined interface and really nice workflow
- Quick lever like edits and surprisingly in-depth customization
- Excellent AI doing what most pros would do to make an image nice
- Standalone and plug in modes
- Easily feel delay once AI feature is on
- Library functions still are not great
- Limited export options and no export presets possible
This section is for those who are not as demanding as pro guys and only have the basic photo editing requirements for everyday purpose, such as sharing selfies, food and pet photos on social media. For such common users, a free photo editor with basic photo editing features shall meet most of their needs.
Enjoying a high reputation among web designers and photographers, GIMP is considered as the best free photo editor software. It offers quite many photo editing features, like the retouching, editing and restoring, even creating icons, graphic design elements and images. Some of these features are usually seen on paid photo softwares like Photoshop. No wonder it is rated as the best free Photoshop alternative as well.
Available on: Windows, macOS and Linux
- Free and open-source and constantly updated
- Nice collection of both basic and advanced photo editing tools
- Extensible via Python, Scheme and other scripting languages
- Poor help and lack real guidance
- Steep learning curve for green hands
- Non-intuitive workflows
Windows Photos, aka Microsoft Photos, is the native photo viewer and photo editor included in Windows 10. With this easy photo editor, you can freely adjust photo contrast and saturation, fix white balance to make them much better-looking. Besides, there are also 15 more filter effects to play with, and the strength of each is adjustable, too. Microsoft Photos is an excellent photo editing software for working with digital images, one that can even rival some of the higher-end photo software out there.
- Fast, simple and touch-friendly interface
- Good photo browsing and searching features
- Solid selection of photo correction tools
- Automatically creates albums
- Cannot tag faces
- Does not support panorama stitching or selective focus
Similar to the Windows Photos, Apple also has its own native Photos application on macOS, iOS and iPadOS. Apple users seeking for a free and simple photo editor don’t need to turn their attention to 3rd party photo editing programs either. While it might not be as robust as paid programs, it still offers plenty of photo editing tools for quickly touching up, tweaking, and sharing your photos to family and friends.
- Free, fun and simple to use
- Easy to create photo books, calendars and cards
- Syncs your photo and video library through iCloud
- Nice basic photo editing tools
- Print projects available only via the desktop version
- Available only on Apple products
Time for our final pick again, which is always the uneasy part. All in all, there is no absolute winner like we’ve mentioned several times. You need to choose your own best photo editor software according to your own needs and photo editing ability.
That being said, as far as this article is concerned, DVDFab Photo Enhancer AI, always available for purchase at its online store, is the best smart photo editor among all the ten candidates. For one reason, it packs the most advanced artificial intelligent technology available today. For another, it automatically performs almost all the photo editing tasks to save your valuable time.
However, if a free photo editing software is all that you’re looking for, then you should definitely go with GIMP, the best of its kind out there.
Q: What are the supported input and output image format of Photo Enhancer AI?
A: The supported input and output image formats include JPG, JPEG and PNG.
Q: There are four modules in Photo Enhancer AI, do they work independently?
A: Yes, the four modules work independently, without affecting each other.
Q: Does one module of Photo Enhancer AI only do one job?
A: Not exactly. One module only focus on one primary job, but it will also perform other photo editing techniques as well.
Q: Can I buy only one module instead of the four in a whole package?
A: No, you cannot. Photo Enhancer AI is sold as a complete package that cannot be sold separately.
Q: Will there be new modules coming in the future, if yes, do I have to buy it again?
A: Well, it’s hard to say whether if there will be new modules in the future. But if there is, you won’t need to buy it again. That’s for sure.