You know, everyone goes on and on ad nauseum about Adobe Products. Why? It’s not like they are the end all be all of image development/editing. ‘Industry standard’? Adobe itself labeled themselves that, and it stuck.
Here is a list of equal, if not better, programs to use. True, not all the Adobe plugins work with them, but many do (mostly the ones that were made to be used on more than one photo editing program)
Affinity – Non-destructive (you know, technically, as long as you don’t SAVE the image, overwriting the original, they are all non-destructive) editing program, has both Mac and Windows version. Has features that you have to buy plugins to get the same result. Mixed bag on plugins made for Adobe products (ie Nik tools, they work but with cavaets) Full on camera raw editing, updated by Serif when new raw formats are available. You do have to make a new ‘pixel layer’ when you want to do multiple edits on different layers, as Affinity doesn’t do it automatically.
TopazStudio – Fully featured, non-destructive, camera raw editing. Has a free and a pro version. Works perfectly with TopazLabs plugins, as you would expect. TopazLaps and StudioPro isn’t free, BUT you buy it once, and all your updates are free, even to new versions.
Alienskin Exposure X2 – again, non-destructive camera raw editor (I donated 5Ds, 5D4, 7D2 raw files to during development) Fully featured, and again works flawlessly with Alienskin Plugins.
TwistedBrush Pro Studio – Not only an excellent art program, but a much underrated photo editing software. Again, I helped by testing and donating CR2/ORF/RAW files to improve the camera raw edits. You can use some adobe compatible plugins, but alas only 32bit. Because of that 32bit limit, file size can cause the program to crash. Ken Carlino is looking into getting a 64bit version written.
ON1 Photo RAW 2017 – Crammed packed with features. Not only a raw editor, but great as a stand along photo processing/editing program. With layers, brushes, gradient tools, filters and presets, even a way to make your own custom presets and filters, you could use On1 as a plugin for Photoshop, or use it as a stand alone. It’s latest version even has lens profiles to correct for aberrations and distortions, BUT unlike DxO Optics, you can choose to not apply the lens correction (DxO forces correction for fisheye lenses) You can, if you choose, do all your edits and effects, and punt a high res JPG to a different photo edition if you want to use a specific plugin in a photo editing program.
Capture One – Also a fully loaded editor that until the latest version was so so slow. Again, non-destructive layer editing, and as great as CO is, it can be a bit overwhelming.
Corel PaintShop Pro X9 – Non destructive layer editing, but you do have to make new layer as it doesn’t make them automatically. (import image, duplicate layer, use a plugin. Duplicate result on another layer to keep doing other edits) Many of the plugins made for Adobe will work with PSPX9, but again, with a few cavaets. As with Affinity, you can use plugins that were made for generally any photo editing programs.
I know I’ve left a few out, but that was because I had iffy results, or that they decided to go the Adobe “rent me” method.