Photographers spend years amassing all of the photographic tools that they need to get the shot that they want, and then sometimes they spend their post-processing time in only one program, like Photoshop or Lightroom. The software you use to adjust your images should be as robust and varied as the tools you use to capture your photos. These picks for the Editors’ Choice Software category handle one (or more) tasks exceptionally well.
BEST FULLY FEATURED PHOTO EDITOR
Alien Skin Exposure X2
Originally introduced in December 2015, Exposure X is a photo editor that works with every step of the editing process. It also can be used as a stand-alone tool or a plug- in for Lightroom and Photoshop. Alien Skin Software upgraded Exposure to X2 with some new features based on user feedback. You’ll now find a histogram panel, a tool to adjust capture time (if your camera still thinks you’re in Europe or Asia) and advanced selection tools. New presets round out the package, as well, and existing users get a discounted upgrade to the new version.
BEST TOOL FOR LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHERS
Anthropics Landscape Pro
Anthropics Landscape Pro is an application designed for one particular job, editing and enhancing landscape images. Landscape Pro handles RAW files and can be used as a stand-alone or as a Photoshop plug-in. Some of the available editing features include changing an image’s lighting source and color temperature and the ability to adjust the “time of day” or from sunrise to sunset. It also has automatic area selection and targeted editing for precise adjustments. It comes with an easy-to-use slider interface, and built-in presets and filters.
BEST IMAGE ENHANCER
DxO Optics Pro 11
We picked DxO Optics Pro 10 last year, and this year DxO Optics Pro 11 continues adding to the great features in the editing program. Best is the new PRIME 2016 Noise Reduction feature. This tool allows photographers to salvage noisy photos and take high ISO images without losing detail. It’s ideal for those who like to take low-light, high-ISO images. Optics Pro 11 also adds a full-screen mode to help with selecting, rating and rejecting images. It comes with a new automated spot- weighted corrections tool that uses face detection for intelligent tone mapping.
BEST HDR TOOL
Macphun Aurora HDR
Co-developed with HDR fanatic Trey Ratcliff, Aurora HDR was built specifically to create and edit High Dynamic Range images. From minimalist HDR adjustments to complete, highly stylized images, Aurora can handle it all. Ratcliff helped build a series of Signature Pro presets that yield results almost instantly. Aurora HDR features precise color and toning controls to precisely direct how vibrant or extra-vibrant various areas of the image appear. It works with RAW, JPEG, and TIFF files. The application also has detail enhancement to ensure that details don’t get washed out in the HDR process.
BEST POSTPROCESSING TOOL
Phase One Capture One Pro 9.1
While Capture One Pro 9 has been out since 2015, this year Phase One released a significant update to the program with a small update to the version number. Specifically, Phase One focused on fashion and still-life photographers with this update. Phase One added workflow-accelerating features and integrated some existing tools to create a more streamlined workflow process. It’s all supposed to make the program’s tethering abilities faster and more intuitive. New workflow tools include a rotatable live view and improved shortcuts. “Copy from last” is a time-saver for someone editing a batch of similar shots. We also like the new color editor tools that add uniformity sliders for saturation and lightness.