Best photo editing software of 2018 – programs for less than $100 gas buddy


For the past nine years, we have reviewed photo editing software to find the best programs available. We spent over 85 hours in the last 12 months using these editing programs to manipulate photos. Our testers are skilled editors with backgrounds in photography and graphic design. We used the same set of photos so we could compare each program’s editing capabilities against each other.

We contacted John Yoo, Head of Sales at CyberLink, to see what he finds most important for any photo editing software. He told us, "The basic functions – crop, adjust exposure, contrast, white balance, noise reduction – all of these features are not only important but the software needs to be able to adjust these accurately and easily." We completely agree.

Programs that completed edits in a quick, intuitive fashion while truly enhancing the photos received higher scores in our review. Programs lacking main features or offering them in a clunky fashion scored lower. Since tutorials and forums are such an important part of learning the photo editing process, programs with better instructive and help features scored higher.

We also evaluated each programs’ help features and organizing abilities to determine which offered the best options overall. We paid attention to each program’s ease of use to see which were best for beginners to learn on. Since file compatibility is such an important part of the editing process, we scored programs higher if they accommodated the main photo file types: JPG, TIFF, PNG, GIF, PSD, PDF and RAW.

You can typically find photo editing software ranging from $40 to $100 for the most basic versions. If you’re willing to pay more to get the more professional versions, costs typically go up around $150 – $200. High end programs, such as Adobe Creative Cloud, often have a monthly subscription, so if you just want to edit photos occasionally, a one-time purchase program like Corel PaintShop Pro is a better financial option. Paying more isn’t always the best option since the types of tools that come with different programs can vary. Before making a purchase, you’ll want to decide which tools you cannot do without and then purchase a software that offers them. Some less expensive programs offer all of the tools you need, even the more advanced tools like HDR, content-aware fill and cosmetic retouching.

Many photo editing programs have switched to subscription payments, however there are a few programs out there that still offer one-time payments. Typically, subscription programs are better if you plan on editing on a daily basis and you want the most updated software to do it. One-time payment programs might become outdated in a couple years, but the basic editing tools will still be there for you to use at no additional cost.

Most professional photographers prefer to work with RAW images since it gives them more control over brightness, color and overall image quality. PSD is another popular file type since it saves the individual layers of your photos so you can edit them at any time. If you plan on becoming a serious photo editor, it is best to learn to work with these files.

If you take a lot of photos and plan on editing them on a regular basis, it can really help you save time if you get a program that offers batch processing. For example, if you wanted all of your photos to be a little brighter, you can use batch processing to quickly brighten all of the photos you select instead of taking the time to do it individually. This feature is commonly found in the photo organizing section of photo editing software.