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Alternatives To Lightroom and Photoshop For Real Estate - Are There Any Good Ones?

Published: 28/10/2015
By: larry

LRAfter the Lightroom CC 6.2 fiasco several weeks ago several readers have asked questions about Lightroom alternatives for real estate photographers. Apparently some that were on the fence about believing in the concept of Adobe subscription software have been soured.

My general advice for real estate photographers has two parts:

  1. If your business was impacted by Lightroom 6.2 you are probably in the habit of updating too fast. Sure Adobe screwed up but good sound business practice is not to update operating systems and other critical software until you know it's solid or you have a backup machine.
  2. Lightroom/Photoshop CC is still the standard for real estate photography. They give you the most power and workflow speed of any other approach for a bargin price of $9.99/month. Sure there is other software that will do the job but there are problems with these alternatives too.

So what are the current real estate photography post-processing software options and how many people are using them? One of the must have's for real estate photographers is software with perspective correction features and lens correction profiles for all the popular lenses.

What are the alternatives?

I have experience with the top four but not the rest so help me build this list. What are you using or think you are going to use? Then I'll do a poll to see what's popular.

18 comments on “Alternatives To Lightroom and Photoshop For Real Estate - Are There Any Good Ones?”

  1. Have now swapped over to Capture One from Lightroom.

    It was a steep learn curve getting used to the software and adapting my workflow, but the Phase One Capture One 8 Webinars are are very good resource. Am now in the process of importing my images into Capture One catalogs and have not even opened Lightroom for a few weeks.

  2. Well. For me it is a pitty, but i can´t go around Lightroom til now. Nethertheless i switched to Affinity Photo recently and am very happy, especially if you think about the price. But also apart from the price this Programm sreves me better than other Programs cause it offers more functions than i need and performs very speedy!

  3. I personally have not bought into the marketing madness and still work in LR5. It has been working extremely well and I don't see a need to upgrade anytime soon. It ain't broke!

  4. I started off with LR and PS. NOW I have a process that includes Capture 1, their colors are really awesome and the process is just a little different, but after seeing a webinar like Bruce said, it is very easy.

    Give it a try, however I do acknowledge that some tools in LR are more efficient and some work will need CS6, so it's just jumping into C1 and adding it to your arsenal, I use the 3 but it C1 is really giving me a good result for some spectacular pics.

    I will give a try to the ones Larry post, haven't tried them but it's like a video game: pick up all the weapons and use the ones that really suit the independent need.


  5. If you're looking for a good free RAW conversion tool, might I suggest Raw Therapee ( - I've had good results with that for converting images to be used in other capable editing programs such as Photoshop, PS Elements and if needs be GIMP (the closest open source equivalent to the aforementioned Adobe products). The nice thing is about those pieces of open source software, you could either install them on your laptop/desktop OR you could install them on a capable (think fast read/write SanDisk) USB 3.0 stick and run those programs off of a USB drive. See for more information. Another possible contender is Zoner Photo Studio ( its an image editor and database type program that allows non-destructive editing of RAW files. It can also make HD slideshows from your images. Note that this software I have yet to try and unfortunately for Mac users, these programs may not all be Mac capable. Most of them are Windows/Linux only. I hope this helps the community at large, cheers!

  6. My workflow:

    1. Photomatix to batch enfuse and tonemap the days images - I later pick out one of each type to continue with.

    2. LightZone to fix up selected images that need zone based corrections, brightness, and color balance. (I find I need this step on less than 10% of my RE shots. The others can be done in PSP.)

    3. Paint Shop Pro to fix lens and perspective distortion, size and crop, apply Topaz Adjust to some (5% or so).

    My average: 2 minutes per image (for RE jobs).

    I just discovered LightZone a couple months ago. It has a unique approach I've not seen in similar tools. Here's a summary:

    Non-destructive RAW editor

    Versions for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux

    Free, open source, originally developed as commercial software by the now-defunct Light Crafts.

    The unique Zone Finder and Zone Mapper analyzes images by an Ansel Adams type zone system.

    Each adjustment you make is kept separate in a stack list that you can easily rearrange, change, turn off.

    The Relighting tool does a great job changing the lighting of all or portion of an image.

    All effects can be localized with vector-based regions and masks with adjustable feathering.

    Use the pre-made styles or save your own. A style or "preset" is simply an adjustment stack that you can apply to a batch of images and then individually adjust as necessary.

    Reviewer at, says: "All in all, LightZone is much more flexible than Lightroom, even more powerful than Photoshop in some areas."

    There's a bunch of LightZone tutorial YouTube videos -- that got me to try it.

  7. I went the other way. I had the $9.99 program and went $49.99. It wasn't a substitute for Lightroom issue. Rather it was Premier Pro, After Effects, SpeedGrade, InDesign and potentially Dreamweaver requirements. As a result, Lightroom and Photoshop are kind of included. I say 'potentially Dreamweaver' as at least one of my web sites is built with it...and I need to re-work others where the design program no longer exists. I noted that Adobe has a new program, Muse, for graphic web building (and no option for HTML scripting) that behaves very much like InDesign but for web rather than print which may try for quickie web sites. Could probably find alternatives for each of them, but have never found an affordable quality alternative for InDesign.

  8. I started with Capture One Pro 8. I still don't know how to use it fully and completely however that is has not been a problem. A friend of mine told me that Cap One was so good that he found using Photomatix HDR software not necessary. This has been my experience as well.
    Admittedly, I am opposed to paying each month for software. I feel that it's a blatant showing of greed on the part of the company. It's my hope I never have to get involved with the process but you never know.
    Capture One does not pretend to be Photoshop killer. It does not do everything Photoshop and Light room can do but, and it's a big but, It gets the job done for less money and fits the needs of Real Estate Photographers perfectly in my opinion. Specifically WINDOW PULLS.
    With capture One, this is what you do. You click on the brush tool, then click on the + sign to add a layer and then paint the window. The window turns red briefly to show where the brush has been and then disappears. Now you can adjust the light coming in from the window by using the brightness, exposure and clarity settings as well as other setting. When done, you switch to the erase brush. while using this tool, the area you just altered is red to indicate what you painted or adjusted. The erase tools does what the name implies, it erases that which is not needed or bleeds over into someplace it should not. The software will snap to edges most of the time so you don't have to redo your painting.
    At $300.00 dollars this is great software. The only not to pay that much is to buy a Sony camera. the starter software is free and the Pro 8 upgrade is $50.00.
    Do yourself a favor and download the trial.
    That's my two cents worth.

  9. @Jim Liessmann,

    Paint Shop Pro has always had macro recording, editing, saving, running, and you can assign a macro (an action) to a button on a toolbar. It comes with a bunch, and you can find forums that discuss and provide many more. They are easy to create and can save a LOT of PP time.

  10. I've used Corel PaintShop Pro for a couple of years and recently upgraded. I've found it to be more than serviceable for my needs, even if it's not as sophisticated as Lightroom/Photoshop.

  11. @Mike - Are you using aftershotpro? Does it correct lens barrel distortion, CA and let you straighten verticals and horizontals? Also, this is Windows only.

  12. Aftershot Pro (the program formerly known as Bibble, bought by Corel) is multi-platform. Windows, Mac, and Linux are all supported. It does correct barrel distortion, CA, verticals, etc... There are a number of plug-ins written for it. It also lets you export to another program then reimports to it for finalizing. It's major claim to fame is it's multi-platform software and it's speed. It just does everything super fast. It's downside is that it doesn't have nearly enough lenses/cameras in the distortion correction database. None of my lenses are supported. It's more geared towards Linux users when you get to scripting (something a casual user would never notice, but anyone wanting to get into scripting will have to learn the coding language, not that you'd need to run Linux).

    I'm surprised more people don't use DxO Optics Pro. While it's slower, the results are better than I could get out of anything else. As with anything there's a learning curve.

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