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Roundup: Free alternatives to Lightroom for beginners and professionals

Guest post by Ann Young

Don’t want to pay $9 per month for an Adobe Lightroom subscription? Then this list of alternatives to Lightroom will definitely come in handy.

We’ve picked the best programs for basic image post-production, deep color correction, photo management, and batch editing. Here are 10 best alternatives to Lightroom which you can use either for free or download their trial version.

1. Capture One Pro – The Best Lightroom Alternative of 2020

Capture One Pro

Platform: Windows, Mac


  • Broad functionality
  • Completely customizable user interface
  • Fast import and export


  • High price for the full license
  • Can be difficult for beginners

Capture One Pro supports RAW files from more than 400 cameras and offers the ability to transfer your catalogs from Lightroom. Capture One Pro includes an extensive number of photo editing tools that are organized in an appealing layout.

Additionally, there are numerous advanced features, including support for a Live view mode. Also, you can check out the Lightroom vs Capture One Pro Comparison, to make sure Capture Pro is a decent replacement to Lightroom.

2. DarkTable – Powerful Export System


Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux


  • Well-designed cataloging feature
  • Excellent RAW converter
  • Open-source


  • Isn’t suitable for professional photo color correction

Being free and open-source, DarkTable includes the basic functionality of Lightroom. This alternative offers comprehensive resource management and decent image editing capabilities.

Also, your work can benefit from GPU-accelerated picture post-production, cross-platform compatibility, convenient filtering and sorting of photos as well as support for numerous types of images.

Users highly appreciate the ability to work with RAW files from more than 400 cameras. DarkTable boasts tools that aren’t included in Lightroom CC, such as split-toning and curve adjustment. However, the interface of DarkTable isn’t so sophisticated compared to its commercial counterpart.

3. DxO PhotoLab – Enhanced Photos with One Click

DxO Photolab

Platform: Windows, Mac


  • Includes tools for professional color correction
  • Intuitive interface
  • Works with RAW files


  • Brushes require improvement

If you are looking for ways to use Lightroom free or its decent replacement with a free trial offering similar tools, DxO OpticsPro is a good option.

It has numerous features similar to Capture One along with support for quick settings. You can work with portrait, landscape, black and white, HDR photos end even more.

DxO PhotoLab has a simple, customizable interface. It also offers special preset features that will help you ease up your photo editing process. Give your projects a unique visual style using Ambiance options, which allow you to desaturate the pictures and apply color filters.

4. RawTherapee – For Professional Color Correction

Raw Therapee

Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux


  • Quick catalog management
  • Great for photo color correction
  • Open-source
  • Batch photo editing


  • Masks and layers may seem inconvenient to work with
  • Doesn’t support the newest camera models

RawTherapee is one of the best alternatives to Lightroom with similar functionality and capabilities. A distinctive feature of this program is that it uses non-destructive image editing, so you can return to the source file any time you wish.

Like in Lightroom, you can use pre-installed presets or create your own ones. Also, RawTherapee allows you to adjust colors using the special LittleCMS system.

The program has a wide range of tools for image color correction, digital noise reduction, vignetting, and rotation. Also, it is possible to control exposure, adjust shadow and light, correct tone, and more. Besides, RawTherapee supports film negatives and monochrome cameras.

5. Skylum Luminar – Powerful Batch Image Processing

Skylum Luminar

Platform: Windows, Mac


  • Supports RAW files
  • Convenient system for image manipulation
  • Suitable for professional image editing


  • Some speed and reliability issues on Windows

The simple and intuitive interface includes tools similar to those in Lightroom. For example, you can enjoy a customizable workspace and a powerful RAW converter.

Additionally, Luminar boasts built-in layers and color range masking capabilities. This alternative to Lightroom supports all currently existing RAW formats.

Luminar includes filter packages, powerful sharpening options, a noise reduction feature, and most of the image retouching tools you can find in Lightroom. You can also import, organize and manage a large library of photos.

6. ON1 Photo RAW – Pro-Level Results

Platform: Windows, Mac


  • Cheap, one-time payment
  • Combines the simplicity of Lightroom and diversity of Capture One
  • AI-powered features


  • Too slow background file exporting
  • A few pre-installed presets

ON1 Photo RAW is a relatively new software on the market. It combines the best cataloging and organization tools of Lightroom as well as quick RAW file processing with support for several concepts from Photoshop (for example, the ability to work with layers). This allows you to create composite images in a way that cannot be done in Lightroom.

ON1 Photo Raw is an all-in-one program that includes numerous tools for photo editing and organizing along with the ability to apply first-class effects.

Also, it offers 3 industry-leading products of ON1 such as Resize, HDR, and Effects. Additionally, you can take advantage of such features as Focus Stacking, Print, Pano, Layers, etc.

7. LightZone – Unlimited Number of Layers

Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux


  • Open-source
  • Suitable for professional image editing
  • Excellent RAW converter
  • Offers basic features for photo color correction


  • No tools for professional image color correction
  • May seem complicated for novice users

If you are on the lookout for free alternatives to Lightroom with a powerful RAW converter, LightZone is a great option to consider. This program has an extensive collection of RAW image editing tools.

With LightZone, you can quickly improve your shorts, remove blemishes, perform basic color correction, change white balance, blur particular parts of the picture, increase sharpness, get rid of traces and dust. Also, you can eliminate digital noise, which appears if you used high ISO settings.

However, LightZone has downsides. For example, it doesn’t offer tools for professional color correction.

8. Polarr – The Best Option to Work Offline


Platform: WEB, Windows, Mac


  • Suitable for professional photo color correction
  • Intuitive user interface
  • An array of tools for digital painting and design


  • Doesn’t work with RAW files

Polarr is free photo editing software with a straightforward interface and functionality that doesn’t require professional skills.

Its tools are primarily designed for color correction. You can enhance exposure, shadows, curves, brushes, masks, and layers. Also, it is possible to work with light, detail, presets, etc.

Polarr supports large JPEG images up to 30MP and works offline, so you don’t need an Internet connection to edit your shots. Additionally, this alternative to Lightroom offers masks for accurate image color correction.

Polarr has a separate tab for drawing, designing logos and banners. If you check out the Lightroom CC vs Lightroom Classic Comparison, you will see that Polarr has combined all the best features of these two products, except for the ability to work with RAW files.

9. PhotoScape X – All-In-One Photo Editing Software

PhotoScape X

Platform: Windows, Mac


  • An extensive number of functions
  • Supports RAW file format
  • Low system requirements


  • Many features aren’t available in a free version

Even though PhotoScape X can’t boast such a powerful library as Lightroom, it has a Viewer feature allowing you to rate and to flag your photos. Apart from working with masks, brushes, and layers, you can take advantage of 1,000+ filters and effects.

While it’s mainly designed for image editing purposes, you can use PhotoScape to stitch photos and create animated GIFS and collages.

This program offers batch image editing and the ability to change the size, format, and name of the file. In addition, PhotoScape X includes macros to make your work faster.

An extensive number of image editing tools make PhotoScape X one of the best alternatives to Lightroom. With a variety of filters and effects, you can quickly and effectively enhance your photos and achieve all your creative goals.

10. Photo Pos Pro – Professional Editing Choice

Photo Pos Pro

Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux


  • User-oriented
  • Broad functionality
  • Suitable for weak computers
  • Completely free


  • Lacks tools for professional color correction
  • Isn’t suitable for portrait retouching

Photo Pos Pro is a free program for both image editing and creating projects from scratch. With this software, you can make collages, create business cards, and work with graphics. It supports numerous file formats, including RAW, JPEG, and GIF.

Photo Pos Pro can work with RAW files and also has support for scanners and digital cameras. Both professionals and enthusiasts will appreciate advanced photo editing features, tools for graphics design, numerous text and script tools, special effects, Selection features, patterns, textures, layers, and masks.

Also, Photo Pos Pro offers batch image editing capabilities and the ability to expand the functionality of the program.




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