How to choose Photo Editing Software

Key buying considerations

Choosing a photo editing program can be a confusing task as there are many to choose from, each having its own strengths and weaknesses, features and functions that you may or may not use. Here are some things to consider when selecting a photo editing program:

Before choosing a photo editing program you need to consider your own workflow needs and how your photo editing needs might evolve as you develop your photography skills.

  • Software hardware requirements
    • Make sure the software can run on your computer, check the vendors operating system requirements and system specs, you don’t want to invest in a piece of software if your system does not have the right specifications to run the software.
  • Purchasing options
    • Most photo editing software vendors have a range of purchasing options, consider your needs carefully and remember that many camera manufacturers have proprietary software specific to their camera models and these are often free.
  • Features and tools
    • Photo editing applications can have many features but they may not be of benefit to you. List out what tools and features you need. For example, cropping, resizing, retouching, HDR, and layers. Don’t get caught up in the marketing hype!
    • RAW processor, if you shoot RAW then you need to make sure that your chosen software can process RAW files, most do but not all!
  • Difference between processing, editing and creating images
    • Processing and editing files is all about trying to get the best out of your image file. Creating images may mean that you add, remove, or create effects and compositions that were not in the original photo, often this means building up your image using layers. Be clear about your current and future workflow needs and your creative or artistic needs.
    • Read the reviews on the software you are considering and watch YouTube videos to inform your purchasing decision.
  • Free trials
    • Make sure you download any free trials or demos to get a feel for the software and to see whether or not it meets your workflow needs.
  • Licensing
    • You may want to use your chosen software on more than one device. Read carefully the licensing terms and contract, especially if you are committing to longer term monthly contracts.

Take your time, research and try different software packages before deciding what to buy.

Budget verses best of breed

Best of breed

Photo editing applications tend to be a mix of features and functions from software that in principle, allows you to create a workflow for processing RAW files through to outputting your images in the desired size and format. Programmes like Affinity Photo, Adobe Photoshop and On1 are examples of creative editing software that use a layered approach to photo editing. DxO Photolab is primarily a RAW file processor and could be called ‘best of breed’. In other words, there is no better way to process and prepare your RAW files for further editing. However, if you want be more creative and composite photos then this software would need to be complimented by another software package.


Best of breed mean that you use more than one software package in your workflow capitalising on the strengths of each software package, if your budget allows this it can be a good approach to processing your images. However, if your budget is limited, then you must choose your software carefully and consider your workflow needs from start to finish! If you are only going to buy one software package then make sure it covers all your needs from processing RAW images through to working with layers etc…

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