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Recommendation for a good raw image photo editing app for Windows?

Some points, Yes Photoshop is the best and it does an amazing amount of things, just like the Space Shuttle did for a flying machine. However, if you just wanted to enjoy a little time in the air, you would probably be happy with an Ultralight aircraft.

In the same way, if you need everything Photoshop can do, and most of us here do not, then you must have Photoshop. With that said, you will not be buying it, they will hold you to ransom, to use it. Stop paying your monthly ransom and they will stop it from working.

If you want to actually own something that you can use today and all week, put it away for 6 months and start using it again, wait a year and still use it, then you don't want photoshop, because you will have to keep paying monthly to keep it working.

Once upon a time, there was really nothing out there other than Photoshop, to do some really good editing with. Today that is very different. A great alternative is the new version of On1, which is called On1 RAW 2022. Take a look at that, it is inexpensive, and you pay once and own it forever, not so with Photoshop, as great as it is.

There are a number of good editing programmes on the market now (unlike the old days) and On1-Raw is one, Topaz Labs is another and several other very good ones are out there too. For what the majority of us want to do to a Photo, any of the other options (and cheaper than Photoshop) will do all and more than might be required of editing an image. Most allow a month free trial, so go out there and try them out. I have On1 Raw, Topaz, and the very capable NIK range Lightroom Vs Picsart, which is another very good piece of editing software, plus my old, bought outright version of Photoshop, before they started the ransom thing. If you took away Photoshop, any of these others, covers everything that I need to do to an image.

Also, regarding exposure, the burst setting just takes a number of images within a second or so, at the same exposure setting, so that you hopefully don't miss a piece of the action as it happens. Do a multi exposure at different setting is a different thing altogether. By doing that, you are taking photos at varying exposure settings to allow you to later stack and remove the bits from each image, that are not properly exposed, to give you what you want. By doing this sort of photo, you can then blend all the images in layers, to get the best part out of each one, then flattening them into a single image that gives you the best all-round dynamic range. Something that no camera can currently do in one single exposure.

This is best used in difficult lighting situations, when your wanted framing of an image contains a large variation of light to dark points within that image. No camera can detect and show the dynamic range in a single image, that our standard Mark 1 eyeball can show us, That's the beauty of shooting in HDR with a camera, it gets you that much closer to looking like what your eyeball sees.
I have a very old version of Lightroom, which worked well for me, but I want to update. If I try to do LR, I have to move to a subscription based model. I'd rather not pay $120 a year for it and never actually own it.

What do you have that is similar (or better. I'll take better) that doesn't require you to rent it? I don't need to power of a full-on Photoshop program, but editing, creating layers, and doing HDR stacking would be musts.
 
I have a very old version of Lightroom, which worked well for me, but I want to update. If I try to do LR, I have to move to a subscription based model. I'd rather not pay $120 a year for it and never actually own it.

What do you have that is similar (or better. I'll take better) that doesn't require you to rent it? I don't need to power of a full-on Photoshop program, but editing, creating layers, and doing HDR stacking would be musts.
Three suggestions. Two RAW editors which are definitely the pro-level equal to Adobe bloat-ware and one fully featured picture editing suite.
a) DARKTABLE (freeware)
b) RAWTHERAPEE (freeware)
And lastly, if you want Photoshop style adjustments etc.
c) GIMP (freeware)

Steep learning curve on all three, but the top-notch end results justify the effort.
 
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Three suggestions. Two RAW editors which are definitely the pro-level equal to Adobe bloat-ware and one fully featured picture editing suite.
a) DARKTABLE (freeware)
b) RAWTHERAPEE (freeware)
And lastly, if you want Photoshop style adjustments etc.
c) GIMP

Steep learning curve on all three, but the top-notch end results justify the effort.
On this forum, we have gotten into the pros and cons of Adobe many times. Yes, it is maddening to have to pay for something that was once a one-time purchase, In my retirement, my main pleasures in life are travel and photography. I spend almost all of my daytime at my iMAC doing photography or something related to Photography. I spend hours watching You Tube editing videos, or for Premiere Pro, Lightroom, Photoshop, and timelapses. My wife and I travel extensively, often the trip is built around photography and creating a video and a contribution to my portfolio. I do not do this for any money, just a hobby. Drones merely add to the pleasure. Here is my website

Far be it from me to defend Adobe. But I have come to a working relationship with them. When my yearly subscription to the complete suite is coming due, I make a personal call to them and plead with them for my usual discount. I am not ashamed to say that it has worked every time. I get a generous discount on the complete Adobe suite which includes. over 40 Adobe apps (Lightroom, Photoshop, Bridge,Premiere Pro, Acrobat,and the new AI Generative app Adobe Firefly (truly amazing stuff), and all of the other apps I do not use. The advertised cost was $650.00/year, but I pay $239.88 annually at one time, (or $29.99 per month). For this, I get more than once a week, all of the Lightroom and Photoshop updates, including all of the new generative AI capabilities. If you guys haven't seen what these can do, you would be shocked. In addition, I get unlimited Adobe support for my Adobe Premiere Pro video editing, Photoshop, Lightroom, etc. This support is by very smart people who speak India accented English. In addition, by subscribing to Colin Smiths weekly videos, I get all of video instruction I need on every new update. I think most of us can afford $29.99 a month.

I need not say that the capabilities of this software are more than I will ever need or understand, but it is nice to know it it available to me.

Over the years I have tried Luminar, NIK software, and ON1 and although they have a lot to offer they do not compare to the Adobe suite.

Thankfully, I am enjoying a comfortable retirement and I can afford this. But I can understand that if money is tight, it is $239.88 yearly more that you can spend on something else.

Dale
Miami
 
I use Affinity Photo, a full-featured editing software that's available with a perennial license (no monthly or annual subscription ransom) for $70. I was originally attracted by Affinity's numerous stacking and stitching options, perfect for focus-stacking, panoramas, astrophotography, and the like. It enables me to edit RAW images and choose from among a bunch of formats when exporting the results. Affinity is produced by Serif (UK), which offers it as a stand-alone product or as part of a suite which includes separate but fully integrated design and publishing softwares.
 
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