Editor’s note: Photolemur has merged with the latest Luminar AI. This guide has been updated to reflect the changes.
Did you just come back from a vacation trip and you want to share the photos you captured with the world?
Of course, it is as easy as clicking the upload button on any of the social media channels currently available. But why would anyone upload vacation photos or any type of photo on the internet without enhancing them first and this is exactly why people use photo enhancer software.
So, let’s take a detailed look at the best and quickest apps for both macOS and Windows that will help you get better and editing and enhancing your photos.
In this article, we’ll go over:
A quick look at built-in Photos of Windows & macOS
Both Windows and macOS come with a Photos app that can do a lot of things. While things are a bit simpler on Windows, the Photos app on macOS takes everything to the next level. But what about the photo enhancement capabilities of these apps?
On Windows 10, the Photos app can sync your photos to and from OneDrive but when it comes to editing photos, you can do basic things like apply filters, set brightness, contrast and perform other things like Red-eye removal and Spot fix. On Windows 10, the app can only do these things. This is great for people who want a straightforward app to perform minor edits.
However, if you need a great in-built tool that can help edit images on Windows, we suggest taking a look at Paint 3D. Paint is an old classic that has been famous since the XP era, and Paint 3D brings incredible improvements from features such as magic select, reducing glare, auto color and contrast enhancements, and a whole lot more.
Coming to macOS, the Photos app gives you a lot of options to edit your photos. You can adjust the brightness, colors, white balance, sharpness, and apart from that, you can also edit Red eye and reduce noise in the photos. This is a powerful photo editing and enhancement experience when comparing the options available with the Windows counterpart.
Apple also gives you an option to apply automatic adjustments with the Photos app on macOS, which makes all this even sweeter for someone who doesn’t want to fidget with many options. Out of both of these platforms, macOS offers the best default Photos app with a fantastic photo enhancement and editing experience.
Do I really need a 3rd-party Photo Enhancer app?
You can find a lot of photo enhancement software out there, and a lot of them come with various features. This makes it very tough for a user to choose a good photo enhancement tool. Two of the biggest platforms that people use are PC and Mac, and they both come with their default image management programs.
While the built-in apps are fine for quick edits, anything remotely complex or demanding, such as adjusting the perspective or smoothing out skin, isn’t possible. Hence, you would need to get yourself a third-party Photo Enhancer app to perform any demanding edits.
These photo enhancement tools come in handy when you capture many photos and don’t have much time to manually change the camera settings to get the perfect shot. Also, not everyone knows everything about camera tech, and this is one more thing image enhancers help with. These programs are a mixture of many tools for assisting users in editing photos at a fundamental level, but they might serve the purpose for many users. We have many options, all with different features and specialties.
For beginners and intermediate users: Luminar AI
Luminar AI is an automatic photo enhancement tool available for both macOS and Windows. When I open the product on my Macbook Air, I’ve been delighted with the easy drag-and-drop interface and the AI tech that helps edit photos. This tool eliminates confusing and tedious options like brightness adjustment, contrast settings, and more.
The Luminar AI editing toolkit is multi-functional and easy to use. You can enhance and edit images using filters, color correction tools, blur and Vignette tools, crop or transform the image, and a whole lot more. However, the main feature we love the most is the auto edit tool which makes photo editing as easy as clicking a button. This lets you add effects and filters without taking up a lot of time, and the built-in AI engine has excellent processing, which is constantly improved with your usage. Take a look at all the features below:
- Color Recovery & Sky Enhancement: Luminar AI automatically checks for dull colors in a photo and detects the sky and the color range that it displays. After analyzing the shot correctly, Luminar AI will automatically apply the required adjustments to an image to enhance it.
- Exposure Compensation & Natural Light Correction: The AI integrated into Luminar AI automatically detects incorrect exposure in photos and fixes it automatically to bring out better colors in images. The Natural Light Correction also works similarly and corrects the colors and light in photos taken in natural lighting conditions.
- AI Editing Tools: Luminar AI also has some specific AI tools such as Body AI, Iris AI, Bokeh AI, Composition AI, Sky AI, and a whole lot more. All these are easy to understand as their names define the feature. So, if you’re using Bokeh AI, the built-in editing engine would automatically add background blur and a bokeh effect to your photos. Similarly, you can also use any of the other AI tools, and they too will help you enhance your photo without the use of manual edits.
- RAW format support: You can automatically load RAW photos in Luminar AI and use the program to adjust the colors, vibrancy, and other features automatically. While RAW isn’t meant to be used with such a lightweight program, it is always good to have RAW support in image editors and enhancers.
Quick Guide on using Luminar AI
Once the app loads all the photos you want to edit, you can go ahead and select one to start the enhancing process. Luminar AI has an auto-fix tool, but we’ll be using the manual method for extra control and accuracy in enhancing colors, contrast, and vibrancy.
As you can see in the image above, Luminar AI has built-in presets that you can use to automatically adjust the image’s colors, sharpness, and brightness. However, the creative toolkit helps you make the enhanced image much more vibrant with clearer skies and a cool aesthetic. The background in the photo has also been edited to give it more clarity which removes the dullness and improves the sky to look much better and more natural.
When it comes to options, Luminar AI focuses on enhancing the images automatically using Artificial Intelligence. As a pro user, control over the image edits is all I want. However, beginners benefit the most with the AI edits, and all you need to do is click the auto edit button. We also think that the auto tool does deliver some crisp and awesome images, so it’s probably the best app for beginners.
Note: You can also choose to edit a person’s facial and eye features in a photo, and then you can use the incredible tools to adjust the amount of enhancement that Luminar AI applies to the image. This is a very easy-to-use yet potent tool for people who don’t have much experience in photo editing.
Luminar AI Pricing
Luminar AI can edit RAW, JPEG, PNG, and TIFF image formats, and currently, Luminar AI is a premium editing tool which means you will have to pay to use it. A two-user license that supports two specific systems in a single purchase costs $150-180, which is a one-time fee, and if you want a single license, you will have to pay around $90.
Luminar AI Pros and Cons
- Easy to use
- Quick editing and one-click auto adjustment
- Multiple supported file types
- Budget-friendly price tag
- AI-ready tools
- It doesn’t have a lot of editing tools
In Short, we think Luminar AI is an excellent photo enhancement program, and it is impressive to see it automatically edit the photos with such accuracy. Most photos we edited on the app were landscape photos, sceneries, game screenshots, and many RAW images. Hence, the app seems perfect for people who don’t want many confusing options for image enhancement. The automatic image processing that Luminar AI provides becomes an excellent choice for beginners and people with intermediate photo editing skills.
The DxO PhotoLab is an image editing and enhancement tool for advanced users which means it is suitable for people who already have a lot of experience in enhancing and editing images. It gives you many options like Noise Reduction, Denoising, Exposure Correction, Contrast Optimization, and more.
DxO PhotoLab is available for Windows and macOS and comes in two editions – Essential Edition and Elite Edition. These editions have a significant number of differences where the Elite Edition has features such as DeepPRIME Denoising for RAW photos, DxO ClearView, Presets Editor, and more. It also has a lot more features, and you can read about those below:
- DeepPRIME Denoising: Another new upgrade that DxO PhotoLab brings is the latest upgraded DeepPRIME tech that helps denoise any image. It is based on the old PRIME AI tech and is much better at removing noise, even with standard non-RAW photos.
- Easy to use Presets: You can also use preset profiles to apply to your pictures with DxO PhotoLab with just a few clicks. Not only that, but PhotoLab also detects the kind of camera and lens used to take a picture and downloads the essentials to help you edit the photos using the downloaded extensions. These extensions will assist you in correcting the images and enhance them using your camera’s profile captured using its photo processing engine.
- Multiple Filters: DxO PhotoLab also comes with a lot of filters for quick application, and these can be used to optimize your photos for social media or anything else easily. It’s a lot similar to presets but not as complex and can be used by beginners without issues.
- RAW and ProRAW support: DxO PhotoLab also supports RAW and ProRAW images from iPhones and other Apple devices. It means that you can retain a lot of details and additional information about a picture and edit it while maintaining a lot more detail and color information.
Quick Guide on using DxO PhotoLab
In the screenshot above, you can see the image correction applied to a photo after a few edits made through PhotoLab. The comparison system will let you compare the image and look at it before and after the enhancement is applied. Some significant differences in the edited photo include better color vibrancy and better color and view of the hill in the background. The image was edited to represent a warmer color temperature which you can easily change to colder temperatures using a slider.
The Apply Filter button will load several preset filters, which you can apply and continue editing by tweaking various settings of the same filter. We used the DxO PhotoLab Elite, which has every single PhotoLab feature available for the program. However, some of the best features that we used were the brilliant deepPRIME tech, and the instant presets to enhance images.
DxO PhotoLab Pricing
A difference between the two versions of the app is the pricing, where the DxO PhotoLab Essential Edition can be bought at $99, while the Elite Edition is priced at $149 for your Mac. The price is quite budget-friendly for a program you can use in your everyday life to have an easy way to enhance photos with many impressive features.
DxO PhotoLab Pros and Cons
- It has a lot of pro features and customization tools
- Can work with Adobe and other creative suites
- Supports RAW extensions and also other ProRAW Apple images
- It needs a learning curve to be used correctly
- It can be a little expensive
In Short, DxO PhotoLab is fantastic software and comes with a plethora of excellent photo enhancement features. It has some complex controls and a learning curve, but it is meant to be for advanced users who know what they’re doing, and they know changing a specific setting for an image will result in an assumed outcome.
Besides the learning curve, it is pretty nice to see a program available with so many features that are also very easy to use once you have gone through the interface. To make the deal even sweeter, you can also use DxO PhotoLab as an extension of Adobe Lightroom, Adobe’s solution for quick photo enhancement.
If you prefer online photo enhancer: LetsEnhance.io
For those who don’t want to download on your computer, you can easily consider LetsEnhance.io. The tool doesn’t ask you to manually tweak and enhance the image. Instead of that, you upload an image on the website and select what you want to do with the image.
As you can see in the screenshot below, you can choose the type of enhancement you want to apply to a picture. Once it receives your photo, the neural network goes to work, upscaling your photo by 4x, removing JPEG artifacts, and “hallucinating” missing details and textures into your upscale photo to make it look natural. You’ll need to wait a couple of minutes for the work to be done, but it’s worth the wait — the results we’ve seen are impressive.
LetsEnhance.io is a great web tool for those who don’t want to spend too much time tweaking colors, temperature, blur and more. Every time you upload a photo, three results are produced for you: the Anti-JPEG filter simply removes JPEG artifacts, the Boring filter does the upscaling while preserving existing details and edges, and the Magic filter draws and hallucinates new details into the photo that weren’t actually there before (using AI).
LetsEnhance.io lets you enhance five images per month for the free tier, but you can upgrade your account and subscribe to the service monthly or yearly. This upgrade will cost you $6.99 per month, and for a yearly subscription, you pay $51.99, which gives you a quota of editing 999 images per month.
Pros and Cons of using LetsEnhance.io
- Easy and quick to use
- It doesn’t require you to download any app
- It can be great for users looking for a free tool
- Requires you to have an active internet connection
In Short, if you’re looking for a free tool that you can consistently rely upon for editing photos and don’t have a lot of images to edit or enhance, then LetsEnhance.io is the way to go.However, if you need anything powerful and want to work offline, we suggest you use other apps from the list above.
Other image enhancement tools
Darkroom – Darkroom is an excellent photo and video editing tool that comes with many features, a ground-up processing rendering engine, and support for iPhones and iPads. However, that’s not all that it offers, as Darkroom has a clean UI filled to the brim with image editing tools and features. It also has advanced editing features, presets, and filters that make the app awesome for anyone, whether a beginner or a pro user alike.
Photoshop Elements – Adobe Photoshop Elements is a primary photo organizing and fixing app that works with the regular Photoshop app. It also gives you in-depth tips on improving your photos, and it has a powerful auto-editing button that fixes and enhances images with relative ease and a natural look. As it’s a complementary tool to Photoshop, you can also use all additional Adobe tools and the Creative Cloud to diversify your workflow and manage your files.
GIMP – GIMP is an open-source, free photo editing app with a lot of functionality but requires a lot of time investment to learn how to use it. It’s fantastic to edit and enhance many images and do professional-looking work, but it is not built with beginners in mind. However, if all you want is a simple, easy-to-use tool, we recommend looking elsewhere.
PhotoScape X – This photo editing tool makes decking out your images more accessible and faster, and we would recommend this application for some specific reasons. It is easy to use, and navigation around all the tools is quick. It also has pro editing features and advanced presets. It has a robust free version and is beginner-friendly and pro-ready. Also, it is not limited to any trial period, and you can use the free version to edit all your photos as much as you want, making it an actual win-win situation for everyone.
Pixlr – If you want to edit, recreate, and enhance images online, then Pixlr is a smart pick for you. Even if you are a beginner in understanding design, color combinations, and photo manipulation, you are good to go. Pixlr is a free online tool with a professional version known as Pixlr E. It is not as powerful or advanced as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, so it is not perfect for professional graphic designers. However, it is undoubtedly an innovative and handy tool for beginners looking to edit some photos on the web quickly.
Wondershare Fotophire Editing Toolkit – Wondershare makes programs and apps that make your life easier when using a computer and doing everything. The Fotophire Editing Toolkit is a functional and easy-to-use tool that comes with different modules. The Photo Editor module lets you enhance and edit the image by providing tools to apply color corrections, filters, contrast and blur settings, and more. You can also choose from the provided preset filters that will automatically change the image as per your liking. The one-year license of the Fotophire Editing Toolkit will cost you $49.99, while the lifetime license can be bought at an extra $30, making the final amount to be $79.99.
What should you look for in a photo enhancer software?
As we have discussed earlier, there are many things to consider while getting a Photo Enhancer app. One app might feel good for you while the other for someone else, and hence, it may get a bit challenging to choose the right piece of software for you. So, here are a few points to look out for before making a purchase:
- RAW format support
- An easy quick edit/enhance button or slider
- Built-in presets, themes and filters
- Pro tools and features
- Easy to use UI
Note: A good mix of the points above will ensure that you have a great time editing your photos and not just figuring out how to use the software. So, make sure to double-check and use trial versions before you end up buying them.
Photo Enhancer Software FAQs
How do I enhance photos on my computer?
There are a lot of ways you can enhance your photos on your computer. However, you need to have a good photo enhancer app to help you out with the process. Both macOS and Windows have fantastic built-in options such as Photos for Macs and Paint 3D on Windows. However, if you need something more, we recommend using DxO PhotoLab as it has many more complex features and pro tools for editing images.
What photo editing software should I use for Mac?
The built-in Photo app on macOS works wonders for quickly and easily editing a lot of photos for free. However, tools like Photoshop and Luminar AI can help make your life a lot easier with features such as presets, filters, and a quick auto-enhancing button.
Which software is best for photo editing on PC?
Your Windows desktop comes with a built-in photo editor that can work with RAW images – Paint 3D and Photos. These apps are entirely free to use and easy to work with. However, if you need something powerful, we recommend looking at tools like Adobe Photoshop or Wondershare Fotophire.
Wrapping it up
Image enhancement tools for both Windows and macOS comes with a lot of great options. We looked at DxO PhotoLab which is definitely one of the best photo enhancement programs available for Windows and macOS but the learning curve that it has makes it a program for advanced users.
For most people, Luminar AI will be enough for their photo enhancement purposes and to be honest, as an automatic tool, it does a really great job in enhancing the images while still leaving a lot of control in the user’s hand. You can tweak facial and eye features with the program which is great.
If you want more than just a photo enhancement tool, you may look at Fotophire Editing Toolkit which comes with a Photo Editor, a Photo Cutter, and a Photo Eraser and this tool is surprisingly well at what it is developed for. In the end, we will recommend going with Luminar AI to get the best photo enhancement experience on both PC and Mac.
Meanwhile, here are some other articles that you might enjoy:
Photoshop Alternatives: Photo Editor for Beginners
The Best HDR Image Processing Software