A perk of digital photography is the ability to alter images after taking them. You can get rid of blemishes, change the lighting, and even enhance colors. You might think that it’s too hard to do, but with the right photo editing software, a bright, white smile - or any other edits you may want done - are only a few clicks away.
If you are new to digital photography, you might not know where to go. You know that Photoshop is a fan favorite among artists, but it can be pricey. It might even be too complicated or overwhelming for you. It does offer a lot of tools, which can be both a blessing and a curse.
Below, we put together a list of the best photo editing software on the market for beginners to make the search a little easier for you. Hopefully one of them will be a good fit to you.
WHere to buy
Why You Need the Best Photo Editing Software for Beginners
You need photo editing software because you can’t get away with just pointing and clicking anymore. Pictures have to capture people’s attention, and you will be competing with millions of other photos. You can now alter photos easily with the right software, and it won’t take forever to make changes if you know what you are doing. A photo editing software can even help you change what kind of file the photo will be, and the size of it.
One word of warning: If you don’t have the right software for your task, it will probably take hours to make any changes. So make your photo editing software choice based on what you need it for.
Different Types of Photo Edits
There are different types of basic editing projects that you can do with the right software. And, there are many more types of editing you can do once you’ve mastered some of the basics. Take it at your own pace and you will eventually learn them all:
Noise Reduction: This is basically smoothing out the picture through changing the pixel size.
White Balance: Changing the color of the light in the photo.
Contrast: Higher contrast can make an image more dynamic and lower contrast will make the photo seem flatter.
Exposure: This changes the brightness of the photo.
Lens Correction: This fixes any problems with the camera lens.
Color Adjustments: This lets you change the color of anything in the photo.
Resizing and Cropping: This changes the size of the image and cuts out any unnecessary space.
Background Removal: This will separate the background from the subject in the photo. This way the subject can be moved to another image.
How We Chose Our Ratings
We looked at what other photographers think are the best photo editing software for beginners. We did this because they know what to look for when it comes to editing tools and effects. They were beginners at one point as well and they understand the struggles that you are going to face. Once we had a list of software to research, we started comparing the pros and cons of each.
We then went to a consumer site, like Amazon, and see what others thought of each product. These people are in a similar place as you and have nothing to lose by reviewing.
10 Of The Best Photo Editing Software For Beginners
We tried to find a range in prices and computers that the software works on. Hopefully something below will be a good fit for you:
1. Adobe Photoshop Elements
- Auto-generated photo and video slideshows and collages are created just for you and delivered upon launch
- See what's new since your last version, discover fun things to try, and get inspiring ideas, help, and tutorials in the new home screen
- Share memes, collages, slideshows, and printed keepsakes
- Get step-by-step help with 53 Guided Edits
- See full System Requirements below
Photoshop is a very popular software among all artists. This is a much simpler version though. However, it does have everything that you need to organize, edit, and share your photos. It has all the standard tools that you need. You can change colors, remove scratches, and even fix old photos. It will even help you make photobooks, scrapbooks, and greeting cards. It works for both Windows and Mac.
Though beware, the latest version has a low star rating. This low rating could be due to a glitch. People seem to have a hard time getting it downloaded properly. When it does work, it works well. It’s a very intuitive system. If you want to be safe, get last year’s version.
2. Corel PaintShop Pro
- Expand your creative options with an exclusive bundle of particle brush, animation, painting, and photo editing software
- Powerful and non-destructive layers and masks take your photo composites to the next level
- Easily turn a photo into an iconic painting with Pic-to-Painting using Artificial Intelligence
- Quickly edit photos; straighten, level, and remove the tripod from 360 degree images
- Crop and enhance by trimming unwanted areas and improving photos with one-click fixes
This is a software that both pros and newbies like to use. What’s especially great is that it’s a one-time purchase, unlike Adobe, that is subscription based. You can edit images, use photo paint, and you can even process multiple photos at once.
It features tools like Painter Essentials 5, Perfectly Clear 3 SE, Corel AfterShot 3, and Corel’s Creative Collection. It will even help with videos and making them as seamless as possible. However, only works on Windows.
Pros of this software are the different tools and software within it, it’s easy to use, and the price is good. Cons are that some people seem to have problems with installation, some aspects are hard to learn, and the company can spam you with emails.
- The number 1 alternative to Adobe Photoshop, GIMP 2019 is a powerful fully featured yet easy to use photo and image editing software.
- Edit your photos and graphics or create your very own masterpiece from scratch using a full suite of tools, channels and layers.
- Fully compatible with a plethora of file formats including Photoshop. Create, edit, open and save to Photoshop .PSD file format.
- PixelClassics exclusives include 800+ page PDF English manual included on disc, plus easy to use installation menu (PC Only), email support and more!
- These exclusive extras are only available when you purchase from PixelClassics, so to ensure you receive exactly as advertised, please choose PixelClassics. All our discs are checked & scanned 100% virus free.
This program can do around 80% of what Photoshop is capable of. It’s good for simple and quick editing, however, the interface isn’t as easy to use as other software. It’s an open-source software and that means it’s free.
It will run on any system and you can upgrade it through the many different plugins that are available. While it can have a steep learning curve, you can’t beat the price.
4. Serif PhotoPlus
- This bundle contains both Serif PhotoPlus X4 and Serif MoviePlus X5.
- Edit photos easily with intuitive tools and get help from video and written tutorials
- Repair old and damaged photos with an expert range of restoration tools
- Burn HD DVDs and Blu-ray Discs straight from MoviePlus X5 - no other software required
- Easy drag-and-drop editing mode for beginners
This has an interface that is designed for fast and easy edits. You can also make more complicated changes like making it look like a watercolor or oil painting. You can restore old photos by removing scratches, creases, marks, and anything else that messes up the image. This software only works on Windows.
This version gets a 2.5-star rating. Perks of this software are that it has good tutorials, the price is good, and the editing abilities are solid. Cons are that it isn’t as good as previous iterations, the interface can be confusing, and their customer service could be better.
If you are interested, it might be worth checking out a previous version. We are hoping that the bugs will be worked out of the latest version, though.
5. Adobe Lightroom CC
- Anywhere editing. Create incredible photos with powerful editing features on mobile devices, the web, and your desktop.
- Smarter organization. Auto-tagging lets you quickly find the shots you want so you can focus on the fun of photography.
- Worry-free storage. With 1TB of storage, you can access your full-resolution photos anytime, anywhere.
- Easy sharing. Get everything you need to create incredible photos and share them with anyone.
Here is another Adobe favorite, though it’s different from Photoshop. This is perfect for you if Abode Elements seems like too much. It mostly lets you adjust the tonality, exposure, and color of the photo. You can organize this with keywords that are automatically applied without you having to tag anything. It also offers you cloud based storage. Sadly, it is limited in its ability to make big changes like removing blemishes and mixing it with other photos.
It works on both Windows and Mac. Adobe Lightroom gets a 3.2-star rating. People like how fast they get the download code, it’s easy to use, and you can work with it on your phone and computer. However, some people do have a bit of trouble getting the code to work. Also, Adobe’s customer service isn’t good.
6. Cyberlink PhotoDirector 8 Ultra
- Easy to use - With clear and intuitive interface, PowerDirector make it quick & easy to create pro videos in minutes. Easy to learn - Tutorial videos for both beginners and advanced users are provided on the CyberLink Learning Center.
- New features - PowerDirector now supports end-to-end 360 Degree video editing, and all new video blending feature will bring unique impact to your videos.
- Extreme Toolkit for Sports Video, perfect work with GoPro and other sport cameras - The Action Camera Center brings powered features to your videos.
- Video-to-Photo - Capture images from your videos, and use them to create panoramic vistas, perfect group photos or impressive multi-exposure images.
- Countless Filters, Effects and Blurs - including new features of Color Splash and Motion Blur.
This is a great software for beginners because it has an intuitive interface. It features tutorial videos to help you learn about all the tools within the software. You can even take still images from videos and transform them into photos. This is good for making panoramic vistas and perfect group photos. It features lots of filters, effects, and blurs. It will also get rid of any blemishes.
This works on both Windows and Mac. It gets a 4-star rating because it’s all about helping you learn. People like this software because it features tutorials, the price is good, and because of the online support team. One note, people have complained about it lacking some expected features and the interface being difficult.
7. DxO Labs OpticsPro 11
- Raw Image Processing and Editing
- Smart Lighting and Spot Corrections
- Optical Corrections, Lens Softness Tool
- ClearView Haze Reduction
- Anti-Moiré and Red-Eye Correction
DxO PhotoLab is one of the most dynamic photo editors. The photo software has promoted itself with its automatic correction of the lens and camera image, noise reduction, simple and handy menu, advanced settings and other features.
Raw and JPEG photos are being processed based on optical corrections from mathematically established laboratory models, according to DxO, as well as such features as PRIME noise reduction technology and DxO Smart Lighting intelligent exposure optimization.
8. Capture One
- Capture One is the industry leading image editing software that provides the very best tools to shoot tethered, organizing your image collection and making state of the art image adjustments to the RAW files from your camera.
- Capture One offers fast performance with high resolution files and have a range of advanced tools that makes it simple, fast and effective to manage a large image collection from import and capture to export.
- Capture One delivers best-of-class tools for precise color adjustments and excellent features to do selective edits to a specific part of your image. It provides all the tools needed to take full advantage of all the information in your RAW files.
- Capture One is known for its exceptional handling of color, and with our custom camera profiling, each of your RAW file shines straight from the camera. Capture One now supports more than 400 digital camera models.
Phase One Capture One offers pro and prosumer digital photographers excellent detail from raw camera files, and local adjustments including layers, but it trails in organization tools.
Excellent raw file conversion. Pleasing interface. Fast import. Good photo-adjustment toolset. Keyword tagging tool.
9. Luminar 2018 Jupiter
- All-in-one photo editing software
- Over 40 non-destructive photo filters
- Instant looks with over 70 presets and Lookup Tables
- Layers with blend modes
- Object removal and skin healing
This software offers a collection of preset effects for beginners. They are organized into different categories, so it’s easy to use and you can apply quick edits. You can also do black and white photos, portraits, and more. There’s also an option to use layers to blend any photo edits together. And, Luminar will also remove blemishes and red skin.
It has over 40 non-descriptive filters, 70 presets, lens correction, brush edits, and one click preset. You can get everything started in less than a minute. Then, you can adjust the interface to what you prefer to make everything quick and easy to use.
Pros of this software are that it supports Photoshop plugins, it’s easy to use, and the price is good. Cons are that it doesn’t make JPG files, it can crash, and some people feel it’s missing a few tools.
10. Photomatix Pro 6
This software will highlight and shadow details to make photos more interesting to look at. It will also remove ghosts, reduce noise, and adjust colors. It supports Adobe Lightroom plugins. You can create realistic, surreal, or painted-looking photos. Photomatix Pro 6 works for both Windows and Mac.
Perks of this software are that it’s easy to use, there are lots of options, and it’s quick to install. Cons are that it can take a while to get used to, people feel that it doesn’t give the user enough control, and some want more effects to work with.
Buyer’s Guide to Picking the Best Software
There are a few things you should keep in mind when purchasing photo editing software. These specific aspects will make everything much easier for you:
Depending on your needs, you will need to change your photo’s file format. Any software should let you save it as a JPG, GIF, and PNG. It should also let you change the size that will fit your needs.
Specific Editing Tools You Need
The best photo editing software for beginners should at least let you resize, crop, rotate, and adjust the brightness and contrast of your photos. They should also be easy to use too. It should help you keep track of your images by using thumbnail previews, naming schemes, and search. This is really good when you have a lot of photos.
Photo Editing Can Be Fun and Easy – With the Right Tools
While many photographers hate the editing process, it can be fun and easy if you get the right program. The best photo editing software for beginners will let you create your edits with ease. It will have an easy-to-use interface and should be pretty intuitive. Before you buy one, see if they offer free trials. This way you can see how you like it, and if it doesn’t work for you, try another one.
Always make sure to read the reviews. These people have tried the software and will tell you if it’s good or not. As seen above, some software will have bugs or crash. This can be frustrating, and it’s best to avoid those types of programs, if possible.
Just because you are a beginner doesn’t mean that you can’t create masterful works of art. You may even fool people into thinking that you are an expert.