What do you do with all the photos you took with your
DSLR or mirrorless camera? Rather than letting them languish on an SD card, good photo editing software disallowed you to touch up your pictures so that they look their best when you share them with family and friends or when you want to print out your photos.
Regardless of what you want to do with your photographs, there’s a slew of photo-editing programs and apps from which to choose. To help you select the best software, we tested six popular photo-editing programs, free or under $100: Apple Photos, Corel PaintShop Pro, GIMP, Google Photos, Adobe Photoshop Elements, and Serif Affinity Photo.
Adobe PhotoShop Elements is our top pick for its robust yet accessible editing tools. Available for PCs and Macs, it also has a gentle learning curve for novices and tons of features to make the most of your photos.
However, Windows 7/8.1/10/11 users will get even more out of Corel PaintShop Pro, which has more tools and is, in some ways, even more accessible.
For pros or more advanced users, we recommend Affinity Photo. While it will be harder for novices to pick up, it has many powerful tools.
1. Adobe PhotoShop Elements
Best Photo Editor Overall
Easy photo editing for novices
Powerful creative tools for serious photographers
A great learning platform
Fun and valuable AI-driven automation
Works with Macs and PCs
Can’t turn off Auto Creations
Masks don’t limit some edits
While there aren’t many changes from last year’s version, Adobe Photoshop Elements 2022 is our pick for the best consumer photo-editing program for its ease of use, fun creativity, and underlying power. As before, three interfaces (Guided Edits, Quick Edits, and Expert Mode) make this program accessible for users of all experience levels.
A new subject selection tool makes it easier to create cutouts of individuals and pets, and a Smooth Skin tool is excellent at getting rid of wrinkles. And, of course, PS Elements works on both Macs and PCS.
2. Corel PaintShop Pro
Excellent help system with integrated learning tools
Powerful features and creative tools for advanced users
Intuitive for novices
Excellent content-aware cloning
New ability to copy/paste layer styles
Windows 7/8.1/10/11 only
In many ways, Corel PaintShop Pro is superior to Photoshop Elements, as it’s a powerful program, yet is easy for novices to grasp, and has some additional tools, such as 360-degree photo editing. It’s also touch-screen compatible and has a new streamlined workspace. However, Photoshop Elements is available for both macOS and Windows 7/8.1/10/11 PCs, while PaintShop Pro is a Windows-only program.
3. Affinity Photo
Best Budget Pro Photo Editor
Budget price, with no subscription fees
High-powered photo editing
RAW processing within the workspace
Editing of very-high-resolution images in real-time
Can read, open, and edit Photoshop PSD files
The steep learning curve for novices
No 3D or internal vector tools
No custom workspace
Still working out a few kinks
Affinity Photo offers powerful tools, resolution-independent editing, RAW processing within the interface, and most other features that professional photographers want and need — all for only $49.99. While its learning curve is steeper than most, you’ll be rewarded with robust features, including Photoshop-like exposure controls, paintbrushes, layers, and more.
4. Google Photos
Consolidates your photo and video libraries from multiple devices
Auto-syncing among all your devices
Simple, quick sharing
Very easy to use
Minimal photo-editing tools
Imperfect face and object recognition
No user-applied keywords
Auto-generated collages and slide shows can’t be edited.
Google Photos is better than any other tool for organizing and consolidating all your photo libraries, no matter where they are. However, in terms of photo editing, it offers only the barest minimum, helping you quickly prepare pictures for easy sharing. It’s best used in tandem with another app that offers more excellent editing features, such as Adobe Photoshop Elements.
5. Apple Photos
Best Free Editor for Mac Users
Free and fun
Simple to use
Easy to create photo books, calendars, and cards
Syncs your photo and video library through iCloud
Nice photo-editing tools
Print projects available only via the desktop version
Available only on Apple products
Though it doesn’t have editing tools as robust as those for paid programs, Apple Photos is a free, fun, and easy-to-use app for accessing, organizing, and sharing your photos and videos. And Apple Photos makes it easy to sync your library across multiple Apple devices.
Best Open-Source Photo Editor
Free and open-source
Excellent collection of both basic and advanced photo editing tools
Extensible via Python, Scheme, and other scripting languages
Improved, more standard interface
Poor help, no accurate guidance
Steep learning curve
This free, open-source photo editor is beloved by many for its ability to help you get under the hood and customize the program. It also has a robust set of editing tools, but it offers almost nothing guidance, making it more challenging to learn than other photo-editing software.
How we tested
We considered the following criteria when evaluating these programs:
Organizing, syncing, and accessing your photo library
Photo editing versatility and depth
Ease of use
Device and file format support
Each program we tested didn’t try to be the end-all, be-all for everyone. Therefore, we gave the various criteria different weights in our final ratings, depending on the program’s objective and the kind of photographer to whom it would appeal.
Are you looking for some tips to become a better photographer? Then check out our tips for taking great photos on your vacation, at weddings, of your kids, of your food, fireworks, and more.
Best photo printing services
Once you’ve edited your photos, you’ll want to show them to your friends and family. We’ve tested several photo printing services; here are our best for photo books, photo cards, and photo calendars.
The five most essential hardware components for editing in Lightroom and Photoshop are:
Storage Drives (SSDs and HDDs)
The Processor (CPU)
The Graphics card (GPU)
1. Storage Drives
“Solid State Drive (SSD)”
Hard Disk Drive (HDD) has been around for so long that all drives are generally referred to as Hard Drives. In recent years, the Solid State Drive (SSD) has become increasingly popular. The difference between a Hard Disk Drive and a Solid State Drive is that one has rotating disks inside it, and the other is solid, with no moving parts. This, in effect, causes the SSD to be able to access data extremely fast, whereas the HDD has to wait for the rotating disks to warm up before you can access the files.
I’m listing the storage drive first as I believe it to be the most critical part that will save you time. It determines the speed at which the computer can access the data stored on the drive. This is where
Solid State Drives come in handy, as they can reduce your computer start-up (boot) time to under 10 seconds! If that got your attention, the next question is, how much storage capacity should my SSD have? SSDs generally have more minor abilities than their older HDD counterparts, and the larger ones are pretty pricey!
That is why we recommend using an SSD to run your
Operating System, s oftware, Lightroom catalog, and cache drives while using a large-capacity hard drive for storage . Typically, a 500GB SSD will be adequate for your OS, Photoshop, Lightroom, and any other software you might be using. We then recommend getting a second or even third Hard Drive of 2 – 4 TB, which you will then use as storage for all your photos, data, and documents. You will need an additional external hard drive(s) to back up your Photos and Lightroom Catalog(s).
2 Hard Drives:
2-4 TB HDD to run the OS and hold your data, program files, and photos
2-4 TB External HDD (Backup) 3 Hard Drives:
500 GB SSD or higher (System and Lightroom catalog)
2-4 TB HDD (Photo storage)
2-4 TB External HDD (Backup)
2. Memory (RAM)
“We recommend 16GB RAM if running the latest Creative Cloud applications, i.e., Photoshop CC and Lightroom Classic.”
RAM is the second most crucial hardware, as it increases the number of tasks the CPU can handle at the same time. Simply opening Lightroom or Photoshop uses around
1 GB RAM each. Once you open a file (PS) or start scrolling through your pictures (LR), they each use up to 4 GB RAM. Combined with the Operating system using about 2GB RAM to run the latest Lightroom Classic and Photoshop, we recommend a minimum of 16GB RAM. Anything less will cause your PC to slow down or even stop responding, especially when doing strenuous tasks like creating an HDR or Panorama.
12 GB DDR4 2400MHZ or higher
less than 8 GB RAM
3. Processor (CPU)
“Intel Core-i7 CPU”
CPU (Central Processing Unit) is the part of the computer that is commonly referred to as the “brain” of the computer. It is responsible for carrying out all the tasks you (or any software) give. How effective Lightroom will work when applying filters or adjusting sliders depends on how good the CPU is. Adobe’s software is usually built to better support Intel products. Therefore we recommend the Intel “Core-I” CPU Range. Don’t buy anything with “Pentium” or “Celeron” in the name unless you like wasting time or hate yourself!
From benchmarks available on the net and testing it ourselves, it seems Lightroom prefers CPUs with faster internal clock speeds. This is excellent news, as it means that you will get better performance from an affordable Quad Core i5 running at a clock speed of 3.8GHz, or a Core i7 running at a clock speed of 4.2GHz than what you would get from a ridiculously expensive Core i9 with 18 cores running at a clock speed of 3.2GHz.
Interestingly, this seems to be true for Photoshop as well. Therefore, if you mainly use Photoshop and Lightroom and are not running any other high-end applications that require many cores, you can stick to the more affordable i5 or i7 CPUs!
To quickly see what generation an Intel CPU belongs to, look at the
first out of 4 digits after the brand name. For example, Intel Core i7 – 6700. The “6” in 6700 indicates a Sixth Generation Intel CPU.
Minimum Required Specs
6th-gen Intel Core-i5 / i7 or higher
8th-gen Intel Core-i5 / i7 or the equivalent AMD Ryzen processor or higher
Core-i3 or less Anything with “
Pentium” or “ Celeron” in the name
4. Graphics Card (GPU)
Photoshop and Lightroom Classic will benefit from a fast, dedicated graphics card. Although Photoshop has supported graphics hardware acceleration for some time, previous versions of Lightroom were underperforming with the graphics processor turned on. However, the latest version of Lightroom Classic is now taking advantage of the graphics processor. We recommend you enable it and see what it does. If Lightroom decides your graphics card is not strong enough for hardware acceleration, it will automatically disable this feature to avoid adverse performance issues.
We recommend a dedicated graphics card with at least 2 GB VRAM for editing. If you’re using large, fancy pants, high-resolution 2K (QHD) or 4K (UHD) monitors, it is recommended that you get one of NVIDIA’s new RTX series graphics cards to keep up with the high demand a monitor like that requires. These new RTX cards feature special drivers called “Studio Drivers” exclusive to the RTX series and precisely tuned to improve the performance of professional photo and video editing software. If you plan on buying or buying one of the new RTX series cards, enable the Studio Drivers from within the GeForce Experience software.
Recommending a specific graphics card is tricky, especially since new cards are released frequently. However, we recommend buying a mid-range to high-end NVIDIA or Radeon card that supports DirectX 12 or OpenGL 3.3 or later:
Minimum Required Specs
Dedicated onboard graphics
NVIDIA GeForce 1050 , 1060, 1070, 1080, 1650, 1660, 2060, 2070, 2080 or equivalent Radeon.
2 – 4 GB Dedicated VRAM
“Dell 27 inch QHD Monitor”
Buying a proper high-resolution display with accurate color is essential for photo editing. With
Quad-HD (QHD) and Ultra-HD (UHD) monitors on the rise, we can now view our photos with crisp, sharp details. QHD and UHD resolutions range from 2560 x 1440 to 3840 x 2160. Unfortunately, these monitors are expensive in South Africa, but getting one now will be more “future-proof.” If you’re on a tight budget, go for at least a Full HD screen (1920 x 1080). In the case of Windows-based laptops, ensure you don’t fall into the trap of buying one that supports a lesser resolution than Full HD.
This brings me to another critical aspect. Does size matter? For photo editing, it does! We recommend getting a
minimum height of 27 inches or two 24-inch screens, which is perfect for multitasking and editing. If you have the cash to splash, consider spoiling yourself with at least a 32-inch ultra-wide, curved monitor, and make sure it supports UHD resolution. It will be expensive, but being surrounded by so much real estate will be utopian!
Another aspect you should consider is screen technology, which determines the image quality, color accuracy, and viewing angles. Go for a backlit LED screen with
IPS or similar technologies like PLS (Samsung) or AHVA. Please avoid TN and VA panels, which don’t cut for editing.
Finding a screen that offers color accuracy and a wide range of colors (gamut) is equally critical. The two most essential color spaces in screens are sRGB and Adobe RGB. sRGB is the general standard for the Internet and most software applications but covers a limited color range compared to Adobe RGB. Adobe RGB was developed to represent the full range of colors achievable on CMYK printers. Even though Adobe RGB covers a broader range of colors, it might be counterproductive because Windows 7/8.1/10/11 and other software applications will show the colors incorrectly. Photoshop, however, will display Adobe RGB color space perfectly, whereas Lightroom uses an even larger color space, ProPhoto RGB, which monitors do not yet support. If you use Lightroom mostly, the difference between an sRGB or Adobe RGB monitor will be negligible.
Some professional, top-of-the-range monitors offer Adobe RGB and even built-in hardware calibration to assure absolute color accuracy. These high-end monitors can cost tens of thousands of Rands and are overkill for the average photographer. If you wouldn’t spend that much on a professional screen, consider buying or borrowing an optional calibration tool, such as the Spyder Pro or X-Rite ColorMunki, and buy a monitor that covers 99% – 100% of the sRGB color space.
Key specs to look for in a monitor
FHD 1920 x 1080
QHD 2560 x 1440
UHD 3840 x 2160
Desktop: 27″ and larger
Laptop: 15″ and larger
sRGB 99 – 100% coverage
Adobe RGB (Expensive)
A note about Colour Management and Workflow
If you are considering professional commercial photography, where color accuracy – from shooting to print – will be of the utmost importance, I recommend reading John Fox’s article on Colour Management. This is perhaps one of the most comprehensive articles you will ever find on the topic.
6. Input Devices
A critical piece of hardware that is commonly overlooked. A good mouse goes a long way in speeding up and easing retouching. We recommend getting yourself a Gaming Mouse, which will offer ergonomics and improved control. Some gaming mouse devices even come with additional weights, which can improve accuracy when performing precision tasks! Finally, remember to get yourself a proper mousepad, enabling you to use the Mouse with increased accuracy on any surface.
A compatible USB 3.1 card reader that can read the type of card (s) your camera uses will save you the hassle of connecting your camera to the PC every time you download photos.
Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS):
To add an extra layer of protection, you can safeguard your setup by adding a UPS, which allows you to save your work, and safely turn off your computer in the event of a power failure.
Buying a machine according to the specs below will assure fluid and relatively “painless” editing:
500 GB SSD or larger
Alternatively, a 1-2 TB HDD (Budget choice) Additional external HDD to back up your photos and Lightroom catalog
3 x Hard Drives
500 GB SSD or larger (System, Lightroom catalog, cache)
2-4 TB HDD (Photo storage)
Additional External HDD to back up your photos and Lightroom catalog
Core-i5 / i7, 8th-gen, or the equivalent AMD Ryzen processor or higher
Core-i5 / i7, 8th-gen, or the equivalent AMD Ryzen 7 1700 or higher
Graphics Card (GPU)
Onboard Graphics similar to a desktop with
2-4 GB dedicated VRAM
NVIDIA GeForce 1050, 1060, 1070, 1080, 1650, 1660, 2060, 2080, or equivalent Radeon. Minimum of
2-4 GB VRAM. The more VRAM a graphics card has, the better.
15-inch or larger
1920 x 1080 (FHD)
27-inch or larger
1920x 1080 (FHD) or 2560×1440 (QHD) IPS, PLS or AHVA panel
99 – 100% sRGB coverage
Gaming mouse and pad
Compatible USB 3.1 card reader
Author’s Opinion regarding the Best PC For Photo Editing For Windows 7/8.1/10/11 (32-bit or 64-bit) & Mac
Best PC For Photo Editing has powerful features while considering the security purpose; priority is very high. No VPN or RDP is required for the said purpose. In some cases, the emulator also works fine and middleware software also has a vital role in smooth functioning. Therefore, the author recommended the Best PC For Photo Editing for your personal use and has no issue regarding the installation on a PC (Windows 7/8.1/10/11 and Mac). I hope you also use it without any trouble; if you have any problems, please mention them in the email, and we will provide you with proper solutions. Please like and share with others; we made a lot of effort while collecting the software for your download.