I love Lightroom, but not everyone wants a subscription. Thus, here are the best alternatives to Lightroom I have used to date, and better still, you can buy them all outright subscription free.
1. ACDSee Photo Studio Professional 2023
ACDSee Photo Studio Professional is the closest alternative to Lightroom I have used to date. Like Lightroom, ACDSee Professional 2023 features Face Recognition powered photo management and an outstanding Raw editor that’s responsive and straightforward.
Moreover, you can forever own ACDSee Photo Studio Professional 2023 for just US$99 – about the same as 10 months’ worth of Lightroom. As a result, so long as you don’t crave Lightroom’s cloud capabilities and the integrated 1TB worth of storage, ACDSee Photo Studio Professional 2023 is an absolute bargain. Read ACDSee Photo Studio Professional 2023 Review
2. ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2023
Despite having so much in common with Lightroom, ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate is, perhaps, the most underrated photo studio on Earth and, in many ways, a superior alternative to Lightroom.
Like Lightroom, ACDSee Ultimate has state-of-the-art photo management, including keyword tagging, face recognition, and geotagging. And unlike Lightroom, you can create smart collections that automatically group images by common criteria such as camera model, people, and shooting parameters.
As for photo editing, you might consider ACDSee’s raw editor superior to Lightroom. Specifically, there are more targeted adjustments and features, and the interface is equally straightforward and responsive. Moreover, ACDSee Ultimate includes a second layer-based Photoshop-style photo editor with AI tools such as automatic subject selection and portrait enhancement. As a result, ACDSee Ultimate’s creative envelope exceeds that of Lightroom.
However, Lightroom’s unique selling point is its subscription, perpetual development, inclusive cloud storage, and the ability to view, edit, and distribute your photos to almost any device anywhere. But if you don’t care about that, ACDSee Ultimate is cheaper, equally lovely to use, and enjoys a superior feature set. Read ACDSee Ultimate Review
3. DxO PhotoLab 6 Elite
Like Lightroom, DxO PhotoLab is a traditional-style photo editing application augmented with AI super features. Specifically, DxO PhotoLab has the finest raw conversion tool I’ve ever used and, possibly, the best AI-powered noise reduction in DeepPRIME. As a result, DxO PhotoLab’s image quality is at least as good as the very best.
Furthermore, DxO PhotoLab is pleasant to use. It’s fast and responsive, and its user interface can be customized to present your favorite tools and adjustments. But unlike Lightroom and ACDSee, DxO PhotoLab’s photo management is basic.
Perhaps PhotoLab’s biggest problem is that its most attractive features, DeepPRIME noise reduction, and Raw conversion, can be bought separately in DxO PureRaw. Nor does PhotoLab offer any answer to Lightroom’s astonishingly effective integration with the cloud.
But if you’re looking for fantastic image quality – subscription free – try DxO PhotoLab is an excellent alternative to Lightroom. Read DxO PhotoLab 6 Review
4. ON1 Photo Raw 2023
ON1 Photo Raw is another all-in-one photo management and editing studio that, in terms of functionality, offers a broadly similar experience to Lightroom without demanding a monthly subscription.
But amazingly, ON1 Photo Raw’s functionality far exceeds Lightroom and almost everything else. For instance, it includes all of ON1’s professional plug-ins, namely ON1 NoNoise AI, Resize AI, Effects, Skyswap, Portrait Enhancer, and HDR. Plus, focus stacking, panorama stitching, object recognition powered masking, AI keyword tagging, and more.
Unfortunately, this embarrassment of riches can contribute to a clunky user experience and some latency. Nevertheless, if you’re willing to spend the time getting to know ON1 Photo Raw, you will be rewarded. Read ON1 Photo Raw Review
Do you still want Lightroom?
I love Lightroom, but many other alternatives to Lightroom which are just as good and can be bought outright and owned forever.
But if you want an excellent photo editor, inclusive cloud storage with automatic backups, perpetual updates, compatibility with the latest cameras, and the ability to view, edit, and distribute your photos across the internet – Lightroom is tough to beat. Read Lightroom Review