Winners and Losers in the 2023 Photo Editing Software Race

2023 was a very eventful year for photo editing software, with significant releases and innovations for photographers. Adobe Lightroom introduced AI-driven updates, enhancing tools, and transparency features. Capture One 23 became a top choice for professionals with smart adjustments and AI masking. Luminar Neo 2023 introduced generative AI tools. Did these innovations appeal to photographers?

To find out, we examined the data related to Avalanche. Avalanche is software that allows transferring photos from one editing software to another, keeping your edits. The success of various versions of Avalanche for Lightroom, Capture One, or Luminar reflects the interest photographers have in the new features offered by these software. So, which photo editing software seems to be winning over photographers?

Best photo editing software of 2023

Lightroom, innovations that have captivated

What’s new in Lightroom 2023

In the 2023 Lightroom update, Adobe revolutionizes photo editing with AI-powered features. Users can now achieve aesthetic blur effects with Lens Blur, vibrant photos with HDR Optimization, and noise reduction using AI. Precise edits are made easier with new masking tools for clothing and facial hair. Curves adjustments can be applied to masks for customizable edits, while black-and-white video editing enhances video capabilities. Lightroom on the Web gains AI masking for Select Subject, Sky, and Background. Content Credentials ensure transparency, tracking edits, and attribution. Additional improvements include enhanced exporting on iOS, new presets, improved copy-paste functionality, and enhanced performance, all contributing to a more powerful and authentic photo editing experience. So, have these innovations captivated the photographers?

Lightroom flagship tool Adobe Creative Suite 1

Lightroom, photographers' preferred software in 2023

We can observe that Lightroom has renewed its appeal with significant updates. 46.8% of Avalanche users turned to Avalanche for Lightroom, indicating their desire to migrate their catalogs to this software. This shift in user behavior highlights a significant departure from previous years when Avalanche sales for Lightroom were not dominant, underscoring the substantial change witnessed in 2023.

Have the latest features of Luminar Neo found their audience?

What’s new in Luminar Neo 2023

Luminar Neo 2023 introduces generative AI tools like GenErase, GenSwap, and GenExpand for creative image editing. GenSwap, the latest addition, allows users to replace or add objects with AI-generated elements for enhanced visuals. But the results of those new features can be unpredictable and lack a progress bar.  Compared to Photoshop, Luminar Neo falls short in AI erasing and swapping, with Photoshop offering more options and better blending. Skylum plans to transition to a subscription model in 2024, limiting updates for lifetime license holders. While Luminar Neo is a solid editing app, it doesn’t surpass other options in AI capabilities, making Photoshop the preferred choice for AI-driven editing.

Studio Light in Luminar Neo

Luminar, the 2023 innovations did not convince

Conversely, Luminar, which had been quite innovative in the past, lost its innovator status this year. According to Avalanche data, only 4.7% of Avalanche users want to transfer their photos to Luminar. It seems that the major AI-driven updates that Adobe has introduced into Lightroom have been convincing.

Another notable development is that Luminar Neo seems to be abandoning photo management to offer only photo editing functions. In the past, Luminar has led the way with innovative features such as sky swapping and AI-driven face retouching. Lately, however, it seems to be following in Adobe’s footsteps, particularly in the field of generative AI. The landscape of photo editing software is definitely changing, with a traditional player making a strong comeback. Let’s hope the challengers have some surprises in store for 2024.

History of Capture One 1

Did Capture One 2023 win over the public?

What’s new in Capture One 2023

Capture One 23 offers powerful features for editing like smart adjustments and culling with face focus, making it a top choice for professionals. New additions like AI Masking, ReTether, and Snap-to-eye Focus Tool enhance its capabilities. While there are some issues like tethering and pricing, Capture One Pro 23 is a robust tool with room for further improvement compared to Adobe.

Capture One more enticing than Luminar but less than Lightroom

As for Capture One, which increased its price, it failed to win over the hearts of photographers. Only 8% of users want to transfer their photos to Capture One. But it remains a tool appreciated by photographers, and the innovations introduced in 2023 make it more attractive to users than a Luminar Neo.

Photography Software Preferences among CYME users

Loyalty vs. Innovation?

If Lightroom remains the favorite among photographers, is it because they are loyal to the photo editing tool they are accustomed to? Our data does not support this idea. In fact, 29.7% of them chose Avalanche Unlimited, which allows converting their photo catalogs to the editing software of their choice: Lightroom, Luminar, or Capture One. Loyalty seems not to be a characteristic of photographers.

The Expanding Software Landscape

In an extensive survey conducted among Peakto users and testers, photographers have consistently reported owning an average of nearly 4 different photo editing and management software programs. Among these, stalwarts like Lightroom and Apple Photos continue to maintain their popularity. However, the survey also spotlights the growing interest in alternative options such as DXO Photolab, Pixelmator, and Affinity, which have secured their place among the most-used software, alongside industry favorites like Capture One and Luminar.

Notably, the survey data also reveals the inclusion of ON1, a software that has gained the respect of the CYME team. We are delighted to announce that Peakto seamlessly integrates with ON1, providing photographers with yet another potent tool to enhance their creative workflows. This survey underscores the evolving landscape of photo editing and management software, demonstrating how photographers have diversified their toolkits to adapt to their changing needs and creative aspirations.

New compatibility in Peakto with DxO

The Quest for the Perfect Editing Software

Photographers appear to be very receptive to the innovations introduced by software developers and are always on the lookout for new features that will enhance their creativity, save them time, or even make them less dependent. In the quest for the ideal photo editing software, Avalanche Unlimited gains approval. With its unique ability to facilitate seamless transitions between various editing software without losing edits, it serves as a passport to uncertainty. Some photographers had previously migrated to alternatives like Capture One or Luminar to break free from subscription models and explore new solutions. However, as subscriptions increasingly dominate the software industry, many photographers find themselves no longer satisfied and do not want to rely on a single tool anymore. The user acclaim given to Avalanche Unlimited shows that the battle for supremacy in the world of publishing tools is far from over.

Smart cataloger for Pixelmator Pro 01

The rise of the Pure Editing Tools

As highlighted in our survey of Peakto users and testers, photographers demonstrate a penchant for utilizing a diverse range of software options, with emerging challengers like Affinity, Pixelmator, and DxO making significant headway. As a result of this integration, 32% of our community has embraced DxO Photolab, 22% have opted for Pixelmator, and 19% have chosen Affinity among the challenger software offerings.

While these software solutions may not warrant dedicated Avalanche integration, they have inspired us to develop specialized workflows within Peakto. Consequently, Pixelmator, DxO PhotoLab, and DxO Pure Raw now enjoy seamless integration with Peakto, making CYME’s cataloger the preferred choice for photographers focused on editing. Additionally, we’ve taken steps to ensure Peakto’s compatibility with ON1, an compelling photo editing tool that has also gained popularity within our community, with approximately 5% of CYME’s user base adopting ON1.

Peakto 1.9 ON1 Photo RAW

Conclusion

In summary, 2023 marked a significant year for photo editing software, with Adobe Lightroom, Capture One 23, and Luminar Neo showcasing groundbreaking features. Photographer preferences are not tethered to loyalty but are driven by a hunger for innovation. In this dynamic industry, developers must continuously strive for improvement to meet photographers’ evolving needs and maintain their competitive edge. Innovation remains the key to success in the world of photo editing software.

Ready to explore the latest innovations in photo editing software? Try out the updated versions of Lightroom, Capture One, or Luminar Neo, and share your experiences with us. Let us know which features captivate your creativity and how you envision the future of photo editing.

Photo Credit: Pietro Mattia

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