Five Adobe Alternatives for Raw Image Editing

I believe editing RAW images is an essential part of the image creation process, and many people rely on Adobe products like Lightroom and Photoshop, which are often regarded as industry standards. However, on more than one occasion, Adobe’s business policies and terms have frustrated users and some have even decided to cancel their subscriptions, looking for alternative software to edit their photography. In a recent video I gave an overview of five of my own favourite Adobe alternatives for RAW image edting.

Apple Photos

If you’re a Mac user, Apple Photos could be the hidden gem you didn’t know you had or needed! It comes bundled for free with macOS and although not obvious, offers editing tools, including sliders similar to those in Lightroom. While the de-noise and retouch tools are not as good as they could be, and it lacks selective editing tools, Apple Photos does have excellent cataloging features. This software is excellent for basic raw image editing and offers a user-friendly experience for Mac users.


Darktable is a robust, free RAW image editor with an extensive array of features, including cataloging and selective editing tools. However, its comprehensive interface can be overwhelming for some users. Performance may be slow unless you have the skills to ensure it is optimised for your hardware. Despite the steep learning curve, many users find Darktable more powerful than Lightroom once they master it.

Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo is a paid option but significantly cheaper than Adobe software, with a one-time fee. The software offers a “Develop Persona” for raw editing, similar to Lightroom. It also includes a “Photo Persona” for image manipulation akin to Photoshop. While its selective editing tools may not match Lightroom’s, Affinity Photo provides a comprehensive suite for both RAW and JPG image editing.

Luminar Neo

Luminar Neo focuses on AI features and offers cataloging, selective masking, and AI masking for automatic selection of skies, mountains, water, and more. Its AI-driven tools, like sky replacement, are excellent for beginners. However, advanced users may find it lacks granular control. While not free, Luminar Neo is more affordable than Adobe products, making it a good choice for those looking for quick and easy editing solutions.


RawTherapee is another powerful, free tool with extensive options for fine control over the various elements in your images. Though it lacks comprehensive selective editing tools, it offers a grad filter for basic adjustments like darkening the sky. RawTherapee includes cataloging features but isn’t quite as comprehensive as Lightroom’s. Despite the learning curve, it’s a solid option for those seeking a free alternative with in-depth editing capabilities.

You can see this article in a video format below.

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