Free RAW Editing Software

Not everyone can afford to pay for RAW editing software such as Photoshop or Lightroom.  So, I have compiled a list of free RAW editing software for the photographer on a budget.  I can’t personally vouch for any of these programs as I use Photoshop and Lightroom for all of my RAW conversion.

1. Able RAWer 1.4 is freeware for RAW conversion and editing.  It is only compatible with Windows currently.  I wasn’t able to locate very many reviews of the software, but what I did find was mostly negative unfortunately.  One reviewer sited the incredibly complicated and hard to learn user interface and felt that it wasn’t software that was worth downloading, even for free.

2.  Stepok’s Raw Importer appears to be very popular among users.  Like Able RAWer 1.4, it is only compatible with Windows.  Reviews claimed that it was easy to use, did what it was supposed to, but was a bit slow.  Not bad for free!  Judging from the reviews, this is good free RAW editing software.

Medium RAW, 20D

3.  SCARAB Darkroom is another promising piece of freeware for RAW conversion.  It is currently in BETA mode and only works on Windows computers.  Many people on Digital Photography Review claimed to really favor this software for editing their RAW files.  It appears to support most cameras, so I would certainly recommend giving this free software a try!

4.  Google’s Picasa does support RAW files, and is of course free to use.  However, most people feel that it is too basic.  It’s not recommended on its own.

Medium RAW, G2

5.  ArcSoft PhotoStudio Darkroom is compatible with both Windows and Mac, and it is completely free to use the trial version of the software for editing your RAW files.  Reviews are mixed.  A few people claimed that they actually charge you for customer support, and are in general shady.  Others were happy enough with the software itself.  I tend to take any claims of poor customer support very seriously.  It’s one of my pet peeves and will make me stay far away from a product!  For this reason, I would not recommend trying this software.

6.  Capture One, which is typically premium RAW editing software, is offering a limited time free download of the express version of the software.  You will be asked a question about a certain issue of digital photographer magazine.  It might be worth it to purchase the issue since the software typically sells for $129!

I’m sure there is some free RAW editing software that I missed, but I bet something on this list will work for you if you are on a budget.  However, I would always recommend purchasing Photoshop and Lightroom if you can afford it.

9 Responses to Free RAW Editing Software

  1. Thanks for the compilation of links. Very useful. I am undertaking a similar project myself on my own site. Thought I would share these links with you. It is also free pieces of software.

    GIMP is for GNU/Linux, Microsoft Windows (XP/VISTA), MAC OS X, Sun OpenSolaris, and FreeBSD. (

    Basically it covers every need you may have processing your photos digitally. And there are plugins out there too. (

    And don’t forget to check out the GIMP RAW developer UFRaw:

    And by the way, Your site looks great.

    • Hi Thomas,
      Thanks for the comment and the compliment on my site.

      The GIMP is great free software. I didn’t know that there was a GIMP RAW developer. Good to know, so I can recommend it to people.


  2. Kevin Tye says:

    I have been using RAW Therapee (Windows Only) for processing images from my Nikon D40 for a while, and it is a powerful program, but not for the faint hearted. It gives the same sort of level of control that Lightroom gives the user both for individual images and for batches. It comes in portable format so you don’t even have to install it.
    Love the site, great information and resources here. Well done Rachael.

  3. José says:

    Another RAW editing software for Gnu/Linux is Darktable.

  4. M says:

    Darktable is a good RAW editor. My only issue with it is that nobody has posted a cross-compiled windows binary of it to date. Aside from that and RAWTherapee (also available for Linux as well), however, there are other free RAW programs. These include:
    Photivo (GNU/GPL), which integrates nicely with GIMP
    DigiKam for Windows (GNU/GPL – Not as stable as the Linux version, however)
    LightZone (BSD licence – must register for download link)

    I’m sure there are others as well, I just can’t think of them at the moment.

  5. Greg Gasaway says:

    Be advised that Picassa won’t save to RAW or any format other than JPEG. Otherwise I like it when there is no need for anything other than basic editing.

    Thanks for the post, I’ll check some of these out.

  6. boogie wood says:

    Guys just use Windows paint for ev erything its free sheesh!

  7. Walter Dain says:

    Try Photivo, open source. Looks good top me but I’m no expert. Also Raw Therapy and Lightzone. I’m currently looking to learn raw photo editing. Anybody recommend a real good book, not Photoshop?

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