20 Best Image Editing Software Recommended by Experts

20 Best Image Editing Software Recommended by Experts

Are you looking for the best image editing software, staring at your vacation snapshots, longing to breathe new life into them, but find yourself puzzled about where to begin? Ever fantasized about creating mesmerizing photo montages that capture the imagination, only to question your prowess? 

Or maybe you’re on a quest for that flawless profile picture that truly reflects your persona, but the path seems overwhelmingly distant. 

Venturing into photo enhancement can appear intimidating, a labyrinthine challenge for those just setting foot on this artistic journey. It’s for this very reason that choosing the right photo editor, one that caters specifically to beginners eager to dip their toes into the vast ocean of post-processing, becomes an indispensable step.

Without further delay, see our top beginner photo editor picks in 2024: 

1. Photo Works

Image Editing Software - Photo Works

PhotoWorks is not just any photo editor. It’s crafted for everyone, easy on the eyes but packed with powerful tools that make the fancy, pricier alternatives green with envy. Thanks to its smart AI, tedious edits are now a breeze, freeing up your time. Play with colors using tools like Curves and 3D LUT presets. Love photo montages? 

PhotoWorks delivers features for easy background swaps and overlays. Portrait photographers, meet your new best friend. Flawless retouches are now just a click away—smooth skin, vanish aging signs, zap blemishes, and even whiten teeth. Fancy more? Sculpt faces and bodies to perfection. And there’s more—remove unwanted objects, straighten perspectives, and elevate colors with presets and filters.

Advantages

  • Automated corrections aware of content context
  • AI-enhanced retouching for portraits
  • Over 180 effortless effects and filters at a single click
  • Intelligent tools for color grading
  • Simplified changing of photo backgrounds

Downsides

  • Lacks an auto-makeup feature. PhotoWorks runs on Windows (11, 10, 8, 7, Vista, XP) and macOS 12 or newer. 

Price

  • Starting price: $19.25.

2. GIMP  

Image Editing Software - GIMP  

GIMP is a highly favored free photo editor, on par with Photoshop. It’s free and packed with powerful features. From beginners to Upsides, GIMP has everything you need — basic edits, advanced color correction, and layer management.

Plus, it comes with a vast selection of brushes for unique creations. GIMP is open-source, so you can add more features with plugins. It handles batch processing, works on all main operating systems, and reads nearly every image format. But, be warned, its interface is dense and might confuse newcomers.

Upsides

  • Completely free, no unexpected charges
  • Enhance photos with a single click
  • Edit layers for advanced photo manipulation
  • Process multiple photos at once (batch processing)
  • Includes tools for digital painting

Downsides

  • Interface can be difficult to navigate
  • Sometimes prone to glitches

Price

  • GIMP is free to use and compatible with Windows 10, 8, 7, XP, Vista, Mac OS X, Linux, Sun OpenSolaris, and FreeBSD.

3. Pixelmator  

Image Editing Software - Pixelmator  

Pixelmator is a cool photo editing app for OS X. It looks a lot like Photoshop and has many similar features. But, it focuses on the tools most people use, skipping the advanced stuff. 

You get all the basic editing tools with Pixelmator, plus some extras for working with layers and simple graphic design. It’s affordable and packed with features. However, its busy interface might not be for everyone.

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Upsides

  • It runs smoothly without glitches.
  • You can work with RAW and PSD files.
  • It includes tools for editing layers.
  • You can use it on several screens at once.

Downsides

  • The interface might be a little too complicated to understand.

Price

  • Pixelmator is priced at $39.99. It works on Mac OS X.

4. PhotoDiva

Image Editing Software - PhotoDiva

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PhotoDiva is a free photo editor focused on making portraits look amazing. It’s smart, using AI to help you enhance portraits quickly. You can smooth skin, adjust skin tone, erase blemishes, and brighten teeth with ease. 

Plus, it offers tools for reshaping faces, applying digital makeup, and adding cool filters. PhotoDiva also tackles common photo problems like bad lighting and unfocused images.

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This software is user-friendly, features a clean design. Editing is a breeze—just slide or click. Despite its strengths, PhotoDiva is missing a few basics, such as the ability to crop photos or reduce noise. Love portrait photography? PhotoDiva is your best bet. 

Advantages

  • Super user-friendly
  • Smart AI at work
  • Quick face fixes
  • Detailed face shaping
  • Tons of filters

Downsides

  • Only tweaks faces
  • Can’t handle batches

Price

  • PhotoDiva is totally free. It works great on Windows 11, 10, 8, 8.1, 7, Vista, and XP.

5. Photolemur

Image Editing Software - Photolemur

Photolemur is all about simplicity and automation. Just upload your photo, and watch it work magic. It analyzes and tweaks your pictures automatically, enhancing colors, tone, and more. It even fixes distortions and polishes portraits. 

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While you get to tweak the intensity with a slider, that’s about as manual as it gets — Photolemur loves doing things its own way. Perfect for those who want quick fixes without the fuss, though it might cramp the style of those looking to get creative.

Upsides

  • It smartly auto-enhances.
  • The design is easy to use.
  • Its workflow is straightforward.
  • It can process many files at once.
  • It works with RAW photo files.

Downsides

  • Not great for editing faces.
  • Too expensive for what it offers.

Price

  • Photolemur 3 runs on Windows 8 or newer and Mac OS 10. It costs $39.

6. Fotor

Image Editing Software - Fotor

Fotor includes cloud service, desktop, and a mobile app. It’s great for beginners. You can edit photos with just a click, no need to be an expert. While it doesn’t have high-level features, it covers basics like adjusting brightness, fixing colors, and editing tools like blur and crop. 

Fotor works with many RAW formats and can handle many photos at once. It’s also handy for simple graphic design and making collages. However, the desktop version needs a strong computer to run.

Upsides

  • Super user-friendly.
  • Click once for cool effects.
  • Graphic design tools included.
  • Many collage options.
  • Handles lots of files at once.

Downsides

  • The desktop app might stop working.
  • Need a good Internet for the online version.

Price

  • Fotor runs on Windows and Mac. Use it free on desktop or online. Need extra features? Go PRO for $8.99/month.

7. InPixio

Image Editing Software - InPixio

inPixio Photo Editor is powerful yet simple. It’s a free tool perfect for starters. You can fix colors, crop photos, and make portraits look great. It also has cool features like editing layers, changing backgrounds easily, removing unwanted items, and applying filters. Overall, it’s great for beginners. Some may find it tricky to use at first, though.

Upsides

  • Simple to use.
  • Great automatic improvements.
  • Supports RAW files.
  • Tools for layer editing.

Downsides

  • Tools for layer editing.
  • Doesn’t support batch processing.

Price

  • InPixio Photo Editor is free. It works on Windows 10, 8, and 7.

8. Paint.NET

Image Editing Software - Paint.NET

Paint.NET makes photo editing simple for everyone. It’s great if you’re just starting. With this software, tweaking your photos is easy. You can crop, blur, sharpen, and adjust colors.

It also offers basic layer and painting tools. Paint.NET doesn’t ask much from your computer and welcomes new features through downloads. However, it’s straightforward and mainly for beginners, lacking advanced editing tools.

Upsides

  • Simple to learn.
  • Runs on basic PCs.
  • User-friendly interface.
  • Supports layer editing.
  • Free plugins for more fun.

Downsides

  • Just for newbies.
  • Lacks text captions.

Price

  • Paint.NET runs on Windows 10, 8, and 7. It costs just $6.99.\

The Best Photo Editors (Not Necessarily Beginner-Friendly)

9. Adobe Lightroom

Image Editing Software - Adobe Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom tops the list in photo editing and management. Upsides love its unparalleled organization and time-saving tools. Plus, its high-quality presets make photos pop. With Lightroom, stunning photos come easy and quick.

Cool Features

  • Click once to change everything
  • Edit many photos at once
  • Best tool for RAW and cool filters

Upsides

  • Edit safely. No harm done
  • Easy to use. Friendly design
  • Smooth process. Saves time

Downsides

  • Limited manipulations
  • Needs a paid plan
  • Hard for beginners to learn

10. Photo Elements

Image Editing Software - Photo Elements

Adobe Photoshop Elements is great for editing pictures. Both newbies and Upsides love it. It comes loaded with lots of cool tools. You can really get creative with Photoshop Elements.

Cool Features

  • Get things done faster with automation and AI.
  • Bring pictures to life by making them move.
  • Add cool peek-through effects to your images.

Upsides

  • Easy to organize.  
  • Step-by-step help.  
  • Free, no fees.  

11. DxO PhotoLab

Image Editing Software - DxO PhotoLab

DxO PhotoLab cuts noise with AI, making pictures crisp. It’s a powerful tool. You get photo management and RAW editing, just like Lightroom.

Cool Features

  • Fixes lens errors on the fly.
  • Corrects shapes and angles.
  • Stores all photos neatly.

Upsides

  • Edits don’t harm originals.
  • Pay once, use forever.
  • Top-notch at reducing noise.

Downsides

  • Doesn’t handle everything.
  • Can’t bring in new photos.
  • Lacks layering photos together.

Pricing

  • One-time fee of $229

12. Capture One Pro

Image Editing Software - Capture One Pro

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Capture One Pro makes editing and RAW processing easy. Plus, it’s great for tethering, helping photographers nail the shot quickly.

Cool features

  • See and tweak RAW photos live.
  • Work with friends in real time.
  • Fits loads of cameras and lenses.

Upsides

  • Easy to use.
  • Pay once, no ongoing fees.
  • It’s all you need for your photos.

Downsides

  • Takes time to learn.
  • Can’t work with Photoshop.
  • More expensive than some.
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13. Affinity Photo

Image Editing Software - Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo is a powerful photo editor. It has everything photographers need for stunning photos. And, it’s a wallet-friendly choice over Photoshop.

Cool Features

  • Edit RAW photos.
  • Play with layers.
  • Use the stacking tool.

Upsides

  • Pay once, enjoy forever.
  • Edits don’t ruin originals.

The Not-So-Good

  • Can’t organize photos.
  • Missing some management tools.
  • Photo tweaks could be better.

Price

  • $69.99  

14. Exposure X7

Image Editing Software - Exposure X7

Exposure X7 is a cool image editor. It works with Lightroom and Photoshop plugins. You get a big library of customizable presets and awesome effects.

Cool Features

  • Play with masks and layers.
  • Keep photos tidy without catalogs.
  • Fixes photos automatically.

Upsides

  • Pay once, no ongoing fees.
  • Tons of presets at your fingertips.
  • Stand out with special filters and effects.

Downsides

  • Takes a bit to load.
  • May not support all cameras and lenses.
  • Doesn’t recognize faces.

Price

  • $129.00

15. ON1 Photo RAW

Image Editing Software - ON1 Photo RAW

ON1 Photo RAW makes editing RAW photos simple with AI. It turns your pictures into stunning images. Photographers adore its top-notch filters.

Cool Features

  • Syncs with the cloud
  • Smart, AI-driven presets
  • Advanced masking and layers  

Upsides

  • Excellent filters
  • Edit without the worry of ruining the original
  • Quick RAW photo processing  

Downsides

  • Not great for sorting photos
  • Too many buttons and menus
  • Sometimes, it’s slow to respond

Pricing  

  • Own it for $69.99 – $199.99 or subscribe at $6.00 – $12.00 per month.  

16. PaintShop Pro Ultimate

Image Editing Software - PaintShop Pro Ultimate

Whether you’re a pro or just starting out, many pick PaintShop Pro for photo editing. It’s packed with tools and has a great price.

Cool Features

  • Removes unwanted noise
  • Easy-to-follow guides
  • Unique AI-generated backgrounds

Upsides

  • Easy on your wallet
  • User-friendly
  • No monthly fees

 Downsides

  • Not as flexible
  • Might work slowly
  • Prefers standard images over RAW

Price

  • Only $99.99

17. ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate

Image Editing Software - ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate

ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate is your one-stop for editing images. It gives you full control over your photos with an easy-to-use interface.

Cool Features

  • Edit layers.
  • Select backgrounds and retouch faces with AI.
  • Process images in batches.

Upsides

  • Powerful editing tools.
  • Easy for beginners.
  • Free workshops online.

Downsides

  • Only for Windows users.
  • Some tools lack flexibility.
  • Importing takes time.

Pricing

  • $8.90 a month
  • $89.00 a year  

18. CyberLink PhotoDirector 365

Image Editing Software - CyberLink PhotoDirector 365

Check out CyberLink PhotoDirector 365. It’s simple to use. It has cool features. You can even make anime. Some experts think it’s better than Adobe.

Cool Features

  • Brings photos to life with animation.
  • Smart AI tweaks your shots.
  • Connects camera directly for easy edits.

Upsides

  • Simple for beginners.
  • Kind to your wallet.
  • Smooth and friendly design.

Downsides

  • Might be a bit slow.
  • Sorting photos could be smoother.
  • Advanced editors might want more tools.

Price

  • Only $169.99 for a lifetime or $39.99 yearly.

19. Skylum Luminar Neo Image Editing Software

Image Editing Software - Skylum Luminar Neo

Skylum wanted to make a photo app that really uses AI to make your pictures better. Enter Luminar Neo. It’s easy and fun to use. Plus, it keeps the cool features from before, like changing the sky and lots of filters and tools.

Upsides

  • Cool AI features to fix photos.  
  • Easy and nice-looking interface.  
  • Tons of tools, filters, and effects to play with.  

Downsides

  • Some tasks take time.  
  • Missing face recognition and keyword tagging.  

Price

  • You can get Luminar Neo from Skylum’s website. Choose a subscription for $11.95 a month or $99 a year. Want it forever? It’s $249. Skylum also offers a free photo editor online. Yet, it’s not as powerful as Luminar Neo.

20. Photopea 

Image Editing Software - Photopea 

Photopea is like Photoshop but online. Think of it more like GIMP. It’s packed with cool tools. You get masks for images and vectors, layers, support for camera files, text features, and drawing options. It can even do fancy Photoshop stuff like picking subjects and using Smart Objects. You can open PSD and PDF files. But, it struggles with HEIC files from a Samsung.

Upsides

  • Photopea is an amazing editing tool. It’s built for both newbies and pros.
  • It’s super simple to get the hang of it. Plus, it’s got everything you’ll need— and it’s free!
  • Students love using Photopea. It’s a cool way to get creative and learn tech skills in class.
  • Setting it up is a breeze. It doesn’t ask much tech-wise, which makes it stand out.

Downsides

  • It’s missing a few features, but nothing major
  • Sometimes, it bugs out, and you might lose your work.
  • The 3D design feature? Just a basic filter. Very limited.
  • Finding certain tools can be tricky. It takes a bit to get used to the menus.

Price

  • It’s free

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.

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