If you take photos in RAW format, it may seem that you have to fork out for Lightroom or other similar expensive software for convenient viewing and processing of such images. But do not rush to be upset. There are many options available on macOS when it comes to high-quality free RAW editors. It remains to figure out which one to choose?
In this article, we’ll talk more about some of the best free RAW-enabled photo editors for Mac.
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Software from camera manufacturers
Before you turn your eyes to third-party RAW photo editors, do not forget about those options that are initially available to you. Most cameras use the proprietary (proprietary) RAW format, so they come with free software to process your images.
For example, to view CR2 format on your Mac, you can use Canon’s proprietary software package: Digital Photo Professional. And if you are a Nikon user, then the free Capture NX-D program is available to you.
Here are some links to download free branded apps from major camera manufacturers:
The proposed software is of different quality, the best option, perhaps, can be called Sony Capture One Express. Nevertheless, these applications are great for initial photo editing. After you have adjusted your image, you probably want to transfer it to the editor of your choice for further processing.
Some manufacturers (and smartphones) use the DNG format for RAW. This is a universal format that any RAW editor will work with.
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If we talk about the software that you already have available, then do not forget about Apple Photos. This application is installed on every Mac and in itself it is a pretty decent RAW editor.
The main function of Photo is organizing photos. The application is especially useful if you take a lot of photos on your iPhone. However, the editing features in Photo are also present, and they are better than you might expect. The app draws a lot from Apple’s old Lightroom alternative, Aperture, whose support was discontinued some time ago.
The program is great for quick editing and can work with large libraries. If you are interested in basic settings – brightness and contrast, leveling the horizon, etc., then you do not need to look for an alternative to Photo. There are also Curves and Levels tools for more practical scenarios.
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Darktable is one of the most popular open source free RAW photo converters for Mac. But there are version options for Linux, Windows.
The app can be considered a complete replacement for Lightroom. It allows you to perfectly sort photos and manage them. Darktable includes a professional print mode, as well as a map mode that uses location data embedded in your photos.
As a RAW editor, darktable does its best. It includes all the features you expect to adjust color and contrast or reduce noise. One of the interesting tools is the equalizer of the tone, which provides a graphical way to give your pictures a general mood.
As is often the case with open source applications, power is achieved through excellence and ease of use. Although the basics in darktable are easy to understand, if you need to use more serious tools, you will find that this will require some training.
Download: darktable (free)
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RawTherapee is another popular open source editor available for both Mac, Windows, and Linux. The application is incredibly powerful, the first time it is opened, the interface can even stun a little. But RawTherapee is worth it to persistently learn to work with it.
There are a huge number of tools. But even a relatively simple action, such as sharpening images, may seem a lot more complicated than in other programs. But if you need precise control, then this is the best option.
Fortunately, you can download or save your own development profiles. Once you find the style that you like, it will greatly simplify the entire workflow. And the complexity of the program actually means that there are almost all the functions that you need: reduction of turbidity, correction of distortion, and much more.
In general, RawTherapee is not suitable for novice users. Another main disadvantage is that it is not very suitable for file management. If this is what you need, then it’s best to look for another way to organize your shots.
Download: RawTherapee (free)
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If you’re primarily looking for a free RAW viewer, not an editor, then take a look at Picktorial. The application is designed exclusively for the Mac and has in its arsenal some powerful and useful image management functions.
The free version of Picktorial can be used to open, view and export RAW images. You can quickly import, sort and rate your photos, and panels A / b and Before after make comparing and finding the best shots easy
And if you need full editing, then Picktorial is suitable for such purposes. But in this case, you must upgrade to the Premium version with a monthly subscription or a one-time payment.
Download: Picktorial (free, premium version available)
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Here comes another open source RAW editor.
Some features are standard RAW processing tools, such as curve and level correction, or noise reduction and sharpening.
Some features are more consistent with what you expect from Photoshop. You can use digiKam to add text or apply drawing filters, and you can also export images directly to your social media accounts.
Mastering digiKam will take some time, because the program really has a lot of features and tools.
Download: digiKam (free)