Adobe Lightroom is a non-destructive photo editing software. It’s part of the Adobe ecosystem and comes with great photo editing features. However, it doesn’t come cheap.

Its price tag is a bit off-putting if you’re looking for affordable editing software, but don’t worry. There are several free, open source alternatives that you can use to edit your images.


GIMP is a free and open source bitmap graphics editor that’s excellent for retouching and editing photos, as well as image enhancement.

Developed by the GIMP Development Team, this software contains powerful photo manipulation features suitable for professional creators. It’s also considered one of the best alternatives to Photoshop.

When to Use It: GIMP is best used for basic graphic design needs and image editing. It’s especially great if you don’t have a lot of experience with advanced image editing and manipulation.


  • Free
  • Excellent image manipulation tools
  • Extensive graphic design toolset
  • Comes with color management features
  • Supports third-party plugins and customization options


  • High-quality framework
  • Comes with tutorials and guides
  • Small learning curve
  • Multi-computer language support
  • Outstanding color reproduction
  • High customization levels
  • Has all the essential editing tools
  • Supports multiple file formats


  • The selection tool isn’t precise
  • Lack of customer support
  • A limited number of layers

Download: GIMP for Windows, Mac, and Linux (Free)

Digikam editor

DigiKam is an intuitive, open source photo management software that focuses on image organization and tag editing. The app comes with an editing package designed for importing, exporting, editing, and managing RAW images.

It also has powerful tagging tools and filtering functionality. Photos are also put into albums, allowing you to quickly search for and find items.

When to Use It: DigiKam is best for organizing and comparing photos, or when preparing your pictures for publishing.


  • Supports all primary image file formats (JPEG, PNG, and RAW)
  • Add captions and ratings to images
  • Filter and sort photos into albums and sub-albums
  • Lets you easily export albums to social platforms
  • Light Table lets you compare images
  • Advanced image editing tools


  • Free
  • Supports a large number of digital camera models
  • Supports USB storage devices
  • Is great for batch image editing


  • Software is slow at times
  • Sophisticated interface
  • Has a complex image export process

Download: DigiKam for Windows, Mac, and Linux (Free)

Photoflow editor

PhotoFlow is an open source and non-destructive photo editing program that supports RAW images. It specializes in image retouching, but also has several tools that let you perform basic edits.

When to Use It: Use PhotoFlow when you want to manipulate RAW images using advanced non-destructive tools, such as HDR tone mapping.


  • Supports all major image formats
  • Real-time image previews
  • Freehand drawing
  • Basic editing tools
  • Color-correction features
  • Color space conversions


  • Free
  • Non-destructive editing
  • Available for Linux, Windows, and macOS


  • Rugged interface
  • Software doesn’t provide descriptions for editing tools

Download: PhotoFlow for Windows, Mac, and Linux (Free)

LightZone is a free, open source editing software initially developed for commercial editing. However, it is now open to all users. It supports non-destructive editing, which allows you to edit an image without overwriting the original image data.

When to Use It: LightZone is best for editing RAW images, as it produces high-quality JPEGs.


  • Elegant user interface
  • Supports both JPEG and RAW image formats
  • Non-destructive RAW editor
  • Compatible with multiple operating systems
  • Great for batch processing
  • Advanced image adjustment settings


  • No-fuss photo editing tools
  • Non-destructive editing
  • Has a community forum for technical assistance


  • Lack of documentation
  • Difficult to use for beginners

Download: LightZone for Windows, Mac, and Linux (Free)

Do you want to get the most out of your photos? Photivo is a great open source image editor that comes with a variety of filters and a large library of features.

And if you’re a fan of GIMP, Photivo comes with a button that lets you easily export your images to GIMP for further editing.

When to Use It: It’s best for editing high-quality RAW and bitmap files that require high attention to detail.


  • Supports bitmap images and RAW files
  • Elegant and straightforward interface
  • Advanced settings and adjustments
  • Channel mixer support
  • 16-bit internal processing
  • Batch mode
  • Multi-lingual support
  • Allows for cross-processing


  • Feature-rich
  • Powerful internal processing
  • Supports multiple image formats
  • Batch processing capabilities


  • Sophisticated
  • Requires image editing experience to use
  • Needs a powerful computer to run

Download: Photivo for Windows | Mac | Linux (Free)


Don’t want to download image editing software to your computer? Well, with Bitmappery, you can do all the editing from your web browser.

Bitmappery is a free, open source photo editing software that’s also web-based. It integrates with Dropbox, letting your easily import and edit images from the cloud. Bitmappery presents a quick solution for any editing project that needs to be done in a timely manner.

When to Use It: Bitmappery is great for quickly editing photos that are stored in Dropbox.


  • Layer management
  • Dropbox integration
  • Offline support
  • Keyboard shortcuts for faster editing
  • Transformation options


  • Accessible on any device, since it’s web-based
  • Non-destructive editing
  • Only needs a web browser to run


  • Limited editing options
  • Less refined than other software

Related: The Best Free Photo Editing Software to Try Today

Adobe Lightroom vs. Open Source Photo Editing Software

If you are looking to edit your photos, Adobe Lightroom is a great option. It is a non-destructive photo editor, and all edits are kept in your Lightroom catalog. It’s also much easier to use than Photoshop and has great photo management tools.

Open source photo editing software, on the other hand, can be up to par with the paid options. Most of the software above offer the same features as Adobe Lightroom. Some, like GIMP, have more features than Lightroom.

If you are looking for free-to-use photo editing software, be sure to check out the above. You can even use them to learn about photo editing before committing to a paid photo editing software.

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