Best Lightroom Alternatives for Travel Photographers (2024 Updated)

The best Lightroom alternatives

Are you a travel photographer searching for the best alternatives for Lightroom?

If you ever asked pro photographers about Lightroom alternatives, we are sure that many of them said that Lightroom doesn’t have enough good alternatives. But is that really the case?

In short – no!

Although Lightroom is one of the best photo editing and image organization tools, and this is the favorite choice of a lot of pro photographers, there are apps that can do all of that but with a cheaper price tag, either easier to learn, either with a less complex interface.

In this article, you’re going to learn which are the best Lightroom alternatives for travel photographers. By the end, you will know which apps are on your plate.

P.S. if you are searching also for Photoshop alternatives we need to say that here we are focused only on alternatives to Lightroom, but we wrote another article devoted to the best Photoshop alternatives.

So, let’s dive in.

Table of Contents

Luminar is our first choice as the best Lightroom alternative for travel photographers. First of all, this is a pretty powerful photo editing app. Second, it’s a really easy-to-work app, there are not too complex parts of the interface and you will do a lot of stuff easily.

We need to stress that you can install Luminar as a standalone app on your computer (Mac or Windows PC), but also you can use it as a plugin for Adobe Lightroom if you want.

Unlike Lightroom, Luminar is not a subscription-based tool and you do not need to pay monthly for it. You just need to pay one time and you will get full access. Also, another thing that is a huge advantage is that Luminar is simpler and lot of things you can do faster compared with Lightroom.

Without any doubt, the strongest advantage of Luminar is its stack of AI-powered tools. Let’s shortly overview some of the tools we are sure that travel photographers will especially like.

Mask AI will save your time considering you will be able automatically to mask part of the photo you want to edit. Luminar will recognize people, skies, buildings, vehicles, water, plants, mountains, and both natural and artificial ground. And then you can edit these parts.

Another feature that travel photographers will like especially is Sensor Dust Removal AI. All of us are often irritated with annoying black spots that can be seen especially when you close the aperture on f/10 or more. These black spots are pieces of dust in the sensor. With this automated tool, black spots will be automatically detected and removed from the image. Impressive, isn’t it?

Body, face, and portraits are especially challenging for editing manually, so you can leverage 3 tools that called Body AI, Face AI, and Portrait Bokeh AI.

Also, another thing that you probably struggle with when you take photos while traveling is powerlines. This is the reason why Luminar created a tool called Remove Powerlines AI. So, you are able to remove powerlines in a single click.

The other 2 tools we’d like to mention are Structure AI and Atmosphere AI. With Structure Ai you can easily increase the contrast of the photo and boost details, while humans won’t look artificially. 

So, algorithms recognize humans in photos and make adjustments around them. On the other hand, Atmosphere AI uses depth masking to add more drama to landscape photos.

The above examples are just a fraction of what Luminar offers to you to help you edit your travel photos faster.

If we need to pick one disadvantage this could be that if you edit multiple large files and have a bit older computer, Luminar won’t be as fast as you may expect. When we said large files we thought of RAW files you got from full-frame cameras or staff like that. However, if you have a newer and more powerful computer you probably won’t have such experience.

Luminar can import and manage your photos in the catalog. However, we need to be honest and say these capabilities are still less advanced than in the Lightroom.

In the end, Luminar is the best choice for travelers who want to edit photos on the go, fast, but without making compromises and using too simple apps. It is enough powerful to satisfy even a pro photographer, on the other hand, simpler than Lightroom and enables you to get fantastic results much faster.

Pros for travel photographers:

  • Accelerate or remove the time-consuming parts of editing (removing dust spots, removing powerlines…);
  • Lots of AI tools for fast but advanced editing;
  • Sky replacement AI and structure AI tools to create easily more dynamic photos;
  • Portrait AI and skin enhancer AI tools that use face recognition to be able to adjust parts of the subject’s face in a few clicks;
  • Can work as a standalone app or as a plugin for Adobe Lightroom;
  • Work with layers;
  • One-time payment (no monthly subscriptions).

Cons for travel photographers:

  • The image catalog is not as advanced as Lightroom;
  • If you have an old computer and very large RAW files, it could work slower than you expect.

Capture One Pro

Capture One - one of the best Lightroom alternatives

Capture One Pro is one of the best Lightroom alternatives we tried so far.

First of all, we need to stress that this app is devoted to pro photographers. So, if you are looking for a simple app, this is not the app for you. However, if you are eager to learn and invest your time in it, you will master one of the best photo editing tools on the market.

Capture One Pro is a standalone app, which means that you will install it on your computer. It supports both Windows and Mac. There is no free plan, but there is a 30-days free trial, so you will get enough time to explore the app before you buy it.

We especially like their multiple pricing options. Besides of one-time buying option, there is also an offer for monthly or annual subscriptions. It’s on you to decide which of these pricing plans fits you the best. However, Capture One Pro is not a cheap app, but it’s clearly understandable considering that it’s focused on advanced photographers.

You will see that the interface is similar in terms of complexity to the Lightroom. We could say that it’s even more pleasing to our eyes and workflow, but it’s our personal opinion. Maybe you will disagree with that. 

But we need to stress that there are no multiple workspaces in the interface like you have in Lightroom (mean on the library, develop, map, etc.), but everything is under one workspace which could be an advantage for some photographers, but for another, it will be a disadvantage.

However, if you never worked in a bit more complex photo editor, you can count on a learning curve to master it. But, if you’ve already worked in Lightroom (or Photoshop) you will easily switch to Capture One Pro.

You will especially like that you can easily create HDR and panorama images with built-in tools.

Another advantage of Capture One Pro is that you can use layers which is important especially got photographers who want to have more control over image editing.

Capture One Pro has an option to transfer photos to the computer while you shoot, which is fantastic if you need it for pro photo sessions, but considering we devote our article to travel photographers, we don’t think it’s particularly useful for travelers.

There are also advanced image management tools. If you already created Lightroom catalogs you can import them into Capture One Pro easily. Besides of that you can tag photos using keywords and later sort and filter them easily.

All in all, Capture One Pro is an excellent app for RAW processing and color adjustments in general. There exist all image adjustment tools as you have in Lightroom like exposure, white balance, high dynamic range, clarity, levels, vignette, etc.

Also, there is an option to adjust a lot of things automatically if you are in hurry. And auto edits are pretty useful, considering end results are pretty good.

Pros for travel photographers:

  • The advanced photo editing tools;
  • Work with layers and masks;
  • Create panoramas and HDR in a few clicks;
  • Excellent image organization tools;
  • Easily customizable interface;
  • Very good auto adjustment capabilities when you are in hurry;
  • One-time or subscription-based pricing.

Cons for travel photographers:

  • If you are on a budget, you will consider it an expensive tool;
  • You should invest time to master it if you are not experienced in photo editing.

Exposure X7

Exposure X7 - one of the best Lightroom alternatives

Exposure X7 is another very good alternative for Lightroom which could work fantastic for travel photographers that don’t like (or want) using Lightroom.

It is a standalone app, but you also can use it as a plugin for Lightroom (or Photoshop). However, we are pretty sure, considering you are looking for a Lightroom alternative, that you aren’t going to use it as a plugin, but as a standalone app instead.

If you’ve ever used Lightroom, the interface of Exposure X7 will be pretty similar to you. Also, there are more interface customization options than in Lightroom.

However, there are no multiple workspaces like in Lightroom and everything is under a single workspace. But we completely left it to your personal preference to conclude if it’s an advantage or disadvantage for you.

We especially like that there is a catalog-free workflow which means that you do not need to import photos, instead, Exposure X7 will access them directly no matter if images are in your internal or external drive.

Regarding capabilities for image manipulation, you will find a lot of tools such as a selection tool to easily separate the subject from the background, an automatic defective pixel removal tool, 3D color masking, more than 500 presets, and overlays. Besides that, you will find tools to make great bokeh.

All in all, if you are searching for a capable Lightroom Alternative with a lower price tag, we recommend you to try Exposure X7.

Pros for travel photographers:

  • Work as a standalone app or plugin;
  • User-friendly interface with a lot of customization;
  • Lots of presets and fantastic overlays;
  • One-time license.

Cons for travel photographers:

  • Can not create HDRs or panorama photos;
  • If you have an older computer it may work slower.

DxO Photo Lab

DxO Photo Lab

DxO Photo Lab is also an excellent alternative for Lightroom with fantastic RAW processing.

It’s a standalone app compatible with your Windows PC or Mac. And it’s a one-time fee app, with 30-days free trial, so you can easily explore DxO Photo Lab before you buy it.

The interface is pretty user-friendly and easy to learn even if you are not so experienced in photo editing apps.

There are several tools that DxO Photo Lab excels with. First of all, there is an excellent noise reduction tool. Then, there is an advanced selection tool that enables you easily to make local adjustments. Also, there is a spot removal tool with which you can easily remove black spots/dust on a sensor. In the end, there are very good automatic photo adjustments.

Also, we like to see an advanced history tool, so you can easily move through the all events in the editing if you need to switch back to some earlier editing.

Of course, there is an excellent image management tool, so you can easily search and find images through metadata.

Pros for travel photographers:

  • Excellent RAW image processing;
  • Top-notch noise reduction capabilities;
  • Very good automatic adjustments;
  • Good image management tools.

Cons for travel photographers:

  • If you are on a budget, you will consider it an expensive tool;
  • Can not create HDRs or panorama photos.

ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate

ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate - interface

ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate is a well-known player in the photo editing app world. You may know ACDSee as one of the best digital asset management tools, but this app has pretty capable photo editing tools. Its RAW processing is very good, plus this app supports also layered editing.

This is a standalone app and you need to install it on your computer. There is no web version or mobile app, just a version of the app for computers.

If you prefer a simple user interface, ACDSee shouldn’t be your first choice considering that the interface looks pretty busy and even confusing before you get used to it. However, once you get used to ACDSee you will probably enjoy in process, considering that all tools are under the same workspace.

Regarding RAW capabilities, ACDSee is able to process all RAW files effectively. If you like to create HDR images or focus stackingACDSee comes with a built-in tool to leverage it. The only disadvantage we want to stress is that noise reduction is way below what we’d like to see. So, if noise reduction is important, you should look elsewhere.

Pros for travel photographers:

  • All tools under a single workspace;
  • Fantastic image organization capabilities;
  • Face recognition + geotagging;
  • Able to work with layers.

Cons for travel photographers:

  • Busy interface;
  • Noise reduction effectiveness is below average.

ON1 Photo Raw

ON1 Photo RAW - one of the best Lightroom Alternatives

ON1 Photo RAW is, as the name said, a RAW processor, but also it’s an amazing photo editing software and image organizer.

This is a standalone app with 2 pricing models. So, you can buy it one time and then upgrade the license with new versions (if you want), or use subscriptions and have the latest version every time.

Need to say that with subscriptions you will get access also to all plugins, cloud sync, and bonuses. However, there is a 14-days free trial, so you can try the app before you buy it.

ON1 Photo RAW has a bit complex interface but if you’ve already worked with Lightroom (or Photoshop) you will master it quickly, because of its similarity.

You will like a lot of AI-based tools within the app. Some of the are pretty useful for travel photographers. For example, you can use Sky Swap AI to replace the existing sky with a more dramatic one. Also, there is NoNoise AI which helps you reduce noise effectively.

Besides that, if you like working with layers, ON1 Photo Raw supports it. One more thing we need to stress is its ability to create timelapses (in the newest version), HDRs, panoramas, and focus stacking.

Need to mention also that if you like using presets in photo editing, there are a lot of them added within the app. For travel photographers in our opinion, the most interesting presets are in color grade, cool ocean, golden autumn, hot deserts, and vivid landscape categories

Besides the editing tools, ON1 Photo Raw has capable image management tools. And you don’t need to import photos, considering it doesn’t use catalog management, but you can browse through your hard disks wherever your photos are located. 

Also, you can easily organize photos and then filter them by date or time the image has been taken, metadata, or keywords using its image organization method.

Pros for travel photographers:

  • Extended functionalities, a well-versed alternative for both Lightroom and Photoshop;
  • Ability to create HDRs and panoramas;
  • Fantastic noise reduction;
  • Collection of very good presets;
  • Work with layers;
  • Excellent image management.

Cons for travel photographers:

  • For less experienced photographers interface could be a bit busy;
  • On older computers, it can become slow.

Conclusion

Lightroom is truly an industry leader and many photographers use it as a default photo editing and RAW processing app. But there are also plenty of competitors nowadays which offer you either easier workflow, either cheaper, or are good compromise especially when you are on the go.

We outlined to you the best Lightroom alternatives for travel photographers. We made this overview based on our personal preferences, so maybe you will find some app more or less useful than it was for us. 

Also, we are going to update this list as soon as we find additional photo editing apps which can compete with Lightroom enough to be considered as an alternative.

If there is any other app you think should be on our list, please let us know in the comment section below.

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