Free Lightroom Alternative and Raw photo editors to Download for PC, Mac and Linux.

The Best Free alternative to photoshop Lightroom
The best Free Adobe Photoshop Lightroom alternative to download on your computer.

You would like to have, for free, a Lightroom look alike alternative software on your desktop computer with a RAW conversion and editing capability?

For Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux or BSD, those free photo editors software listed below are the best free Lightroom alternative to download with a user interface similar or closed to the famous Adobe Lightroom or at least with the same photo editing tools.

 

Darktable the free Lightroom look alike alternative.

Darktable is featured with a browser, a photo editor and more
Darktable is featured with a browser, a photo editor and more

The Darktable freeware is very similar to Lightroom with almost the same layout, Darktable's ergonomic is also very similar. Darktable can manage your folders, pictures and digital negatives (RAW photos) in a database with keywords and rating, and has advanced photos culling functions.

 

Darktable is an open source photography workflow, photo editor application and a RAW developer. It's a photos and folders browser, has a lightbox alike with zoom, you can catalog and cull your pictures with keywords, rate them and so. From the browser interface, you can develop your raw images and enhance them in a very similar way than Lightroom does.

 

Darktable is a very powerful photo editing software where you can use a mask or inverted mask with almost each tool, and do local adjustment with brushes and filters.

 

Based on the Unix system this Raw processor is for Mac OS X and many Linux distribution.


LightZone RAW photos processor and free image editor.

Lightzone has a browser to cull your pictures with a powerful editor
Lightzone has a browser to cull your pictures with a powerful editor

LightZone is a free photo editing software, featured with a photo browser and photos viewer it is a very powerful RAW photo processor software with local adjustment on each and every single of its tools which is quite unique in this photo editors category.

 

Lightzone, with its very good ergonomic and user friendly user interface, is very easy to understand and to use. It's a fantastic photos editor with numerous controls in every aspect of the editing.

 

Lightzone have everything you need to retouch and edit a photograph, and in my opinion, Lightzone is more powerful to edit a photograph than Lightroom itself, especially with local photo editing and color editing.

 

Lightzone can work with mask and by zone system. Each tool has plenty options with a full range of choices of blending mode and it is very well organized, Bravo !

 

For Windows, Mac OSX and Linux, the help of Lightzone is fully integrated to the application, it mean that you do not need an internet connection nor the web browser will open when you click on the "?" (help) on a tool to get help about a specific tool. The help just appear in the editing software and each tool have his own "?" (help) button.

 

LightZone has already a plethora of presets and filters in it, on the Lightzone's forum you can download, for free, a lot more of them though.


Phototivo free photo and Raw editor for extreme editing.

Photivo Free Editing and Processing photo software
Photivo Free Editing and Processing photo software

Photivo is not aimed, at all, at the beginners! This free photo and RAW editor is extremely well featured with so many photo editing tools, that the beginner or even the advanced photographer can be overwhelmed by a high tech vocabulary and by some very advanced tools. But if you are very picky on your post processing, this is the processing photo editor software you want, and if you are a devotee of GIMP, Photivo can work in 16 bits "pipe" processing with Gimp.

 

In my opinion Photivo has too much tools, so much that the first time you open this software, although it is well organized, you will get a bit lost, but it's the photo editor of choice for extreme and picky editing.

 

For Windows, Mac OSX and Linux, Photivo is a free and open source photo processor able to handle any RAW files, TIFF, JPEG, BMP, PNG and even more type of image.


RawTherapee free raw processor and photo editor Lightroom alike

RawTherapee : A RAW processor and image editor a bit complex
RawTherapee : A RAW processor and image editor a bit complex

Rawtherapee is very often compared as a "Lightroom clone" and free photo editor competitor of the expensive Lightroom, if i can say that.

 

But in my humble opinion, Rawtherapee is a lot more complex photo editing application than Lightroom, and i think that LightZone or Darktable can do the same job in a lot easier way or at least with a lot less overwhelming editing tools.

Do not get me wrong, Rawtherapee is a very nice free photo editor and raw converter, but Rawtherapee is not so aimed at the beginner because numerous tools are poorly labeled making us often wondering what they are made for.

I can easily say that the user interface was written in Klingon language, from my point of view, or at least written by some very nerdy people who forget that photographer does not necessary mean I.T. nerd.

 

Rawtherapee has a photos browser allowing you to cull your pictures quickly, you can from there, label and rate your photos, a double click on a picture will automatically put it in photo edit mode where you can edit your pictures even locally.

 

For Windows, Mac OSX and Linux, Rawtherapee has a powerful batch system processing. The editing tools are very precise and have a plethora of options which will overwhelm the beginners and certainly the intermediate photographer, but expert and pro will fully exploit the huge potential of Rawtherapee.


On1 Perfect Effects 10 Free photo editor and image retouching app.

User Interface of perfect Effects 9, editing photos software
User Interface of perfect Effects 9, editing photos software

On1 Perfect Effects 10 Free use layers, brush, mask, blending mode, and has even more editing tools for more advanced image manipulation and local image or photo editing adjustment, it's an interesting plugin to Lightroom and Aperture. On1 Perfect Effects 10 Free is also a stand alone application.

 

For Mac OSX and Windows, this RAW and photo editor does have all the basics tools in a very unusual way to edit your pictures and might even be capable of doing things that Lightroom cannot.

 

On1 Perfect Effects 10 Free can work with layers, it has also many different kind of brushes to work on your pictures locally and a very nice feature i much appreciated is the browser preview for special effects where you can preview many effects at the same time.

 

When you need to edit a photo locally it is very powerful and precise, plus On1 Perfect Effects 9 Free has plenty of blending mode. I kept it on my computer after the tests because i liked all those specific functions and its editing system.


UFRaw free RAW converter and image editor.

UFRaw user Interface, not so aimed at the beginners
UFRaw user Interface, not so aimed at the beginners

UFRaw puzzled me, i do not know how it is acting with Linux but on my Mac OS X i was disappointed!

 

The only advantage of this RAW converter and image editor is that it have an automatic lenses correction in it, but the quality it shows the RAW files and the speed processing was a not good at all.

 

I should conceive one thing to this RAW photo editing software, UFRaw is very good to bring back the blown highlights, but at the cost of loosing patience with everything else.

 

For Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, and like i said i do not know how UFRaw behave with the Penguin or it's children (Linux or it's derivative distribution) or even with Windows, but on Mac OS X, it bugs all the time, for example when i just zoom in on a picture... it freeze immediately, definitively unworkable !


Polarr free RAW converter and photo editor.

Polarr photo and RAW editor
Polarr is a very nice and well tooled Photo and RAW editor

Polarr is a very well tooled photo editor and RAW processor. The free version miss the local brush adjustment and some filters effects, but you can already do a great job with the free editing tools.

 

For Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Android and iOS, this little piece of freeware is already fully featured with professional tool editing like the lens distortion and correction, HSL, curves and many more.

 

Polarr is also fully loaded with filters effects, indispensable presets nowadays to go faster with image editing. When you export the final image you can add a written watermark or an image as watermark.


DPP: Digital Photo Professional free RAW converter from Canon.

DPP digital photo professional cull and edit pictures
DPP Digital Photo Professional is also a viewer with advanced cull.

DPP: Digital Photo Professional from Canon is a full Lightroom alternative alike, offered by Canon when you buy one of it's DSLR.

For a free solution given by a brand it's an impressive solution fully featured to post process RAW photo (it accept only jpeg, Canon RAW(CR2) and tiff) and an excellent viewer to cull a full folder of pictures.

 

Often people underestimate freeware given by a camera brand like Canon or Nikon, I do not know about Nikon's photo editing software, but Canon did a great job with DPP, and Digital Photo Professional is often used by professional photographers, just to tell you how serious is this software.

Another great advantage to use DPP, is that DPP take in count the preset and picture style of the Canon camera itself, where all other freeware and all paid software are just guessing how to render those camera setting without doing it right.


Nik Software Collection, from Google, are now Freewares.

Google Nik Collection photo effect suite
Nik Collection Software from Google Nik is a full photo effect suite

The Nik collection software is now free ! It is not made as a single piece of software, this collection is composed of 7-8 different freeware where each can add some effects and special edit.

 

So over all, the Google Nik collection can do the job of Lightroom by "playing" with multiple freeware, instead of using only one.

 

Nik Collection has a local adjustment tools extremely well developed and powerful, Nik collection is composed of:

  • Analog Efex Pro: Old style and film effect, vintage and lens effect.
  • Color Efex pro: Many filters with local adjustment.
  • Dfine: Noise reduction, color noise and local noise control and reduction.
  • HDR Efex Pro: Simulate or create a real HDR photo with local adjustment.
  • Sharpener Pro: To bring out all details even the one you don't see yet.
  • Silver Efex Pro: The best of the black and white photography (seriously!).
  • Viveza: Adjust the tonality and color locally in a very easy way.

Because Nik collection was a paying software, before it became free, Nik collection freeware are very high end quality freeware, and can be used in a professional environment (they are actually used by many pro photographers).



 You might also be interested with the last entry in the blog:

Photophone: How to do great pictures with a smartphone or a tablet.

How to take great pictures with a smartphone
How to take great pictures with a smartphone?

Nowadays our smartphones have more computer power than a 10 years old desktop computer. Technology is evolving fast and with it, the language acquiring new words like  smartphone or selfie.

We are doing everything with our phone, from a GPS assistant to photograph or record a movie in full 1080p HD, even post processing those images, and i don't even speak about playing 3D games, read some news on internet and so on...

 

At the end, when we compare how we use our phone the most, in percentage, I can say safely that we barely use it to call someone, and this is why i call mine a photophone.

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Comments: 2
  • #1

    Thomas Herren (Wednesday, 23 March 2016 09:23)

    What about Chasys Draw IES or Paint.NET?

  • #2

    Patrice Laborda (Saturday, 09 July 2016 19:46)

    Chasys Draw IES is far beyond the scope of Lightroom alike softwares,
    Chasys Draw IES will go in the Photoshop alternative or free photo editors Suite... once i put my hand on a PC windows (I am on a Unix system) to try it out.