Low-cost alternative to Lightroom?

jrogersjrogers Big grinsPosts: 79Registered Users Big grins

Is there a low-cost alternative to Lightroom? For me, the LR subscription is well worth the cost, but my brother-in-law, who is an occasional shooter, was asking me about software. (He has a Nikon D7000)

Is there a lower-cost alternative that works well for adjusting photos similar to LR?

Thanks.

Comments

  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Posts: 21,251Super Moderators moderator
    edited September 21, 2019

    It's really important to know what Operating System and RAM, processor (CPU), graphics card/processor (GPU), and familiarity with photo software.

    My situation is multiple computers, Windows (Win 7) and Linux (Mint, Cinnamon), 12-16GB RAM and i5 and i7 CPU (mostly second gen). (Nothing terribly special.)

    For budget Windows machines I suggest:

    Free:

    • FastStone Image Viewer, great for organizing image files and for doing initial sorting and culling. Can view most RAW files and pretty much all common raster image file types. Includes an extremely competent image straighten tool.
    • RawTherapee: Really capable and high-quality RAW and raster image file processor. A lot to learn for beginners, but can be used in a simpler fashion too, so you can grow into it. Rather slow processing because of high image quality algorithms. (Really long floating-point calculations internally.)
    • paint.net: Capable image editor with common functions for basic image processing. Reasonably small footprint on machine resources. No RAW processing. (There are some RAW plugins, but I'm not a fan.)
    • GIMP: This has some advanced image processing capabilities. Can get a little buggy, especially with large image files. Great user support for learning and fixing problems. G'MIC plug-in for GIMP is worth it by itself.

    Low cost:
    * Skylum Luminar 3: Fairly new company and software but I do like using it. A bit of a pain for users who don't stay connected to the Internet. (It needs to verify license through Internet.) Processes most RAW and raster image files. "Luminar Looks" are presets to assist new users and speed processing for bulk images, but you can override settings if you like. Currently $69USD with a coupon.


    Linux recommendations:

    • RawTherapee and GIMP as described above.
    • Darktable: A really great program once you learn how to use it. A little slow to process images but the best Sharpening tools I've used on any software. Processes some RAW files but not frequently updated so new cameras may take years to become RAW supported. I like this software a lot.
    • Pinta: A basic image file processor. No RAW support. Often compared to "paint.net" above.
    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • colourboxcolourbox Major grins Posts: 2,095Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 21, 2019

    Great list from ziggy53. Some more ideas:

    LightZone is another free Lightroom-like editor, you can probably compare it to DarkTable and RawTherapee.

    On1 Photo Raw is another affordable Lightroom-like competitor similar to Skylum Luminar. On1 and Luminar are both working hard to take a piece of Lightroom market share.

    Affinity Photo is more like Photoshop than Lightroom, but it does have a RAW editing module (similar to Adobe Camera Raw) that can be compared to the Lightroom Develop module.

    If on a Mac, Apple Photos is actually not too bad, but the key is to learn how to expand the default editing controls to reveal the more precise advanced controls, then it kinda works like Lightroom.

    I'm a daily Lightroom Classic user, and of the suggestions above, I only have direct experience with Apple Photos and Affinity Photo.

  • jrogersjrogers Big grins Posts: 79Registered Users Big grins

    Thanks for the input! My B-I-L has Windows computers (currently Win 7). I've heard (recently) of On1. That might be a good one, since I've stumbled across a bunch of YouTube videos for learning it - which indicates that it's catching on, to some degree.

  • adilindenadilinden Beginner grinner Posts: 1Registered Users Beginner grinner
    I am on a quest to find an alternative to Lightroom. I have been a Lightroom user for many many years. After giving Lightroom CC a try for a year I found it not worth the ongoing monthly expense given all of its limitations. In particular, the 2 instance limitation is an issue for me, so is the lack of support for family sharing. I do not need RAW processing as I've decided a long long time ago to store JPG, plus family contributions tend to come from smart phones these days. This means my needs aren't so much post processing as they are categorizing, tagging, organization of photos and some aspect of reliable long term storage. With the advent of mostly SSD in modern PC's (I happen to be using Mac with mostly 256GB SSD).
  • David_S85David_S85 Spotter of Dgrin Spam and Oddities ChicagolandPosts: 12,397Administrators moderator

    There's Polarr, web based. Free if you use version 4. Version 5 gives you one free download per day, or I think it is $3.99 per month. The bad news is that it doesn't play well with RAW files.

    My Smugmug
    "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take" - Wayne Gretzky
  • colourboxcolourbox Major grins Posts: 2,095Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 25, 2019

    @adilinden said:
    I do not need RAW processing as I've decided a long long time ago to store JPG, plus family contributions tend to come from smart phones these days. This means my needs aren't so much post processing as they are categorizing, tagging, organization of photos and some aspect of reliable long term storage.

    If those are your priorities, you might look into these Mac applications that specialize more on the organizational side than the developing side:
    NeoFinder - Asset manager that many use for photos.
    GraphicConverter - Decades-old Mac workhorse graphics browser that has photo organization features.
    PhotoMechanic - industrial strength, favored by photojournalists and high volume event shooters who all need to rate/pick/cull, organize, and send as quickly as possible under deadline. So it costs several times as much ($139) as the others listed.

  • bfluegiebfluegie Big grins IndianaPosts: 468Registered Users Major grins

    @jrogers said:
    Thanks for the input! My B-I-L has Windows computers (currently Win 7). I've heard (recently) of On1. That might be a good one, since I've stumbled across a bunch of YouTube videos for learning it - which indicates that it's catching on, to some degree.

    The ON1 website also has free tutorial videos and customers also get emails about live webinars that are later available on the website. One negative is that they issue a new version every year. Small interim updates are included with purchase, but the new version isn't. But you don't have to upgrade, and if you decide to upgrade existing customers do get a $20 discount. Most software doesn't include upgrades to the next major version, but it isn't usually as frequent. You can also get a free trial, I'm not sure if it's 2 weeks or a month.

    ~~Barbara
  • GuyLeFleaGuyLeFlea Seattle AreaPosts: 14Registered Users Big grins
    edited October 4, 2019

    Simplest approach -shoot in JPEG. Really, especially for the novice or occasional photographer. Then rely on the OS supplied media application such as Microsoft Photos that comes with Windows .

  • BelieverXBelieverX MacauPosts: 1Registered Users Beginner grinner
    Capture One is quite good. Then there is Darktable which is FOSS... On mobile, I use Snapseed or VSCO free version on APKNite.
Sign In or Register to comment.