14 Open-source Free Non-destructive Photo Editors For Photographers

14 Open-source Free Non-destructive Photo Editors For Photographers

What is a Non-Destructive Photo Editor?

A non-destructive photo editor is a type of photo editing software that allows you to make edits to your images without permanently affecting the original file. It works by creating a separate file that stores the changes made to the image, while the original remains untouched. This allows the user to make as many changes as they want and experiment with different edits without worrying about losing the original image.

Advantages of Non-Destructive Photo Editing

The main advantage of non-destructive photo editing is that it allows you to experiment freely with your photos without worrying about losing the original image. It also allows you to make changes to your images without the fear of making a permanent mistake. Here are some other advantages of using a non-destructive photo editor:

  • You can easily revert to the original image at any time.
  • You can make changes to your images without worrying about the quality loss that can occur with other types of photo editors.
  • You can save time by not having to create duplicate copies of your original image.

Features of Non-Destructive Photo Editors

Non-destructive photo editors come with a variety of features that make it easy to edit and enhance your images. Some of the most common features include:

  • Layers: Non-destructive photo editors allow you to work with layers, which means you can make edits to specific parts of your image without affecting the rest of the image.
  • Adjustment Layers: These allow you to make changes to specific aspects of your image, such as brightness, contrast, or saturation, without affecting the rest of the image.
  • History Panel: This allows you to see all the edits you have made to your image and easily revert back to any previous version.
  • Masking Tools: These allow you to make precise selections and edits to specific areas of your image.

Use-Cases for Non-Destructive Photo Editing

Non-destructive photo editing is useful in a variety of scenarios, including:

  • Professional photography: Non-destructive photo editing is often used by professional photographers who need to make edits to their images without losing the original file.
  • Social media: Non-destructive photo editing is a great way to enhance your photos before sharing them on social media.
  • Personal photography: Non-destructive photo editing is also useful for personal photography, allowing you to experiment with different edits to your images without fear of losing the original file.

In this list, we offer the best open-source non-destructive photo editors, that can be good alternatives for commercial apps.

1- darktable  

darktable is a non-destructive photo editor that allows you to make edits to your images without permanently affecting the original file. It is an open-source software that provides users with a variety of features that make it easy to edit and enhance their images.

darktable features highlight

  • Layers: darktable allows you to work with layers, which means you can make edits to specific parts of your image without affecting the rest of the image.
  • Adjustment Layers: These allow you to make changes to specific aspects of your image, such as brightness, contrast, or saturation, without affecting the rest of the image.
  • History Panel: This allows you to see all the edits you have made to your image and easily revert back to any previous version.
  • Masking Tools: These allow you to make precise selections and edits to specific areas of your image.

darktable is a non-destructive photo editor, which means that it creates a separate file that stores the changes made to the image, while the original remains untouched. This allows you to make as many changes as you want and experiment with different edits without worrying about losing the original image.

darktable is useful in a variety of scenarios, including:

  • Professional photography: darktable is often used by professional photographers who need to make edits to their images without losing the original file.
  • Social media: darktable is a great way to enhance your photos before sharing them on social media.
  • Personal photography: darktable is also useful for personal photography, allowing you to experiment with different edits to your images without fear of losing the original file.
darktable
darktable is an open source photography workflow application and raw developer

2- RawTherapee

RawTherapee is another non-destructive photo editor that allows you to make edits to your images without permanently affecting the original file. It is an open-source software that provides users with a variety of features that make it easy to edit and enhance their images.

RawTherapee features:

  • Works on Windows, Linux, and macOS
  • Supports Raw editing
  • Feature-rich app that include lights editor, layers, watermark
  • Supports non-destructive editing
  • Super lightweight
  • User-friendly interface
  • Completely free and open-source (GPLv-3.0)

3- PhotoFlow

Photoflow is an incredible photo editing tool that allows you to enhance your images in a non-destructive way. With its complete layer-based workflow, you can easily adjust every element of your photos, from color correction to exposure adjustments, and even add special effects to make your images truly unique.

In addition to its powerful editing capabilities, Photoflow also includes RAW image development, giving you even more control over the final product. Whether you're a professional photographer or just looking to improve your personal photos, Photoflow is the perfect tool to take your images to the next level.

PhotoFlow general features

  • Available for Windows, Linux and macOS.
  • Fully non-destructive, layer-based photo editing workflow with realtime preview of the final image
  • Support for 8-bits and 16-bits integer as well as 32-bits and 64-bits floating point precision, selectable at runtime and on a per-image basis
  • Allows to load and edit images of arbitrary size, thanks to the underlying rendering engine based on the VIPS library
  • Fully color managed workflow: user-defined input, work and output profiles, soft-proofing, etc...
  • Support for layer grouping and layer masks
  • Support for common photo editing tools: levels, curves, brightness-contrast control, blurring, sharpening, cropping, resizing, colorspace conversions, etc..., all implemented in the form of image layers.
GitHub - aferrero2707/PhotoFlow: A fully non-destructive photo retouching program providing a complete layer-based workflow including RAW image development.
A fully non-destructive photo retouching program providing a complete layer-based workflow including RAW image development. - GitHub - aferrero2707/PhotoFlow: A fully non-destructive photo retouchi…

4- Graphite

Graphite is a free, open-source raster and vector graphics editor that offers non-destructive editing with a node-based compositing engine. Its lightweight browser version lets you create amazing art with AI, while the fully-featured raster image editing and native desktop application are currently being developed and will be released soon.

GitHub - GraphiteEditor/Graphite: 2D raster & vector editor that melds traditional layers & tools with a modern node-based, fully non-destructive procedural workflow.
2D raster & vector editor that melds traditional layers & tools with a modern node-based, fully non-destructive procedural workflow. - GitHub - GraphiteEditor/Graphite: 2D raster & vect…

5- nomacs

nomacs is an image viewer software that provides users with a wide range of features and benefits. The software is completely free and is open source, which means that it can be used by anyone, anywhere. nomacs is known for its ability to support multiple platforms, including Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, Mac, and OS/2, making it an extremely versatile tool for all types of users.

One of the key advantages of nomacs is its ability to view all common image formats, including RAW and PSD images. This feature allows users to view and edit a wide range of image types without having to switch between different software programs. nomacs is also licensed under the GNU General Public License v3, which ensures that it is completely free and can be modified and distributed by anyone who wants to use it.

Another great feature of nomacs is its user-friendly interface, which makes it easy to navigate and use. The software is designed to be intuitive and simple, so even users with little experience in image editing can use it comfortably. nomacs also offers a number of advanced features for more experienced users, including batch processing, slideshow creation, and color profile support.

GitHub - nomacs/nomacs: nomacs is a free image viewer for windows, linux, and mac systems.
nomacs is a free image viewer for windows, linux, and mac systems. - GitHub - nomacs/nomacs: nomacs is a free image viewer for windows, linux, and mac systems.

6- PhotoDemon

PhotoDemon is a highly versatile photo editor that comes in a compact 14 MB download. With its user-friendly interface and compatibility with any Windows PC (XP through Win 11), it is a go-to tool for all your photo editing needs. The best part? PhotoDemon does not even require installation on your device. You can easily run it from a USB stick, SD card, or portable drive, making it a truly portable software.

In addition to its impressive features, PhotoDemon is also an open-source program, available under the permissive BSD license. This means that users have complete freedom to study, modify, and distribute the software as they see fit. Thanks to its vast community of contributors, the program has now been translated into more than a dozen languages, making it a truly global solution for photo editing enthusiasts worldwide.

GitHub - tannerhelland/PhotoDemon: A free portable photo editor focused on pro-grade features, high performance, and maximum usability.
A free portable photo editor focused on pro-grade features, high performance, and maximum usability. - GitHub - tannerhelland/PhotoDemon: A free portable photo editor focused on pro-grade features,…

7- Gimel Studio

Gimel Studio is a software application that enables users to edit 2D graphics in a non-destructive, node-based manner. It is designed to prioritize simplicity, speed, elegance, and user-friendliness, making it an ideal tool for both novice and professional graphic designers.

With Gimel Studio, users can expect to produce high-quality graphics with ease, as the application is equipped with a wide range of features and tools that allow for seamless editing and manipulation of images. Whether you're looking to create stunning visual designs for your personal brand or professional work, Gimel Studio has got you covered.

With a fully non-destructive workflow that uses both GPU and CPU processing (via GLSL + OpenGL) while being seamlessly cross-platform on Windows, Linux and macOS (for 64-bit systems), Gimel Studio aims to be a simple, yet powerful 2D graphics editing tool for anyone with an image to edit.

Gimel Studio works for Windows, Linux, and macOS.

GitHub - GimelStudio/GimelStudio: Non-destructive, node based 2D image editor
Non-destructive, node based 2D image editor. Contribute to GimelStudio/GimelStudio development by creating an account on GitHub.

8- PhotoStack

PhotoStack is a highly functional and user-friendly batch photo editor that is completely free and open-source. It allows you to edit multiple photos at once, saving you time and effort. With PhotoStack, you can add watermarks to your photos, ensuring that your work is properly attributed and protected.

And the best part is that PhotoStack is browser-compatible with all major browsers, so you can access it easily from anywhere and on any device. Whether you are a professional photographer or an amateur looking to enhance your photos, PhotoStack is the perfect tool for all your photo editing needs.

PhotoStack is released under the GNU General Public License V 3.0.

GitHub - corbindavenport/photostack: Progressive Web App for editing multiple photos at once.
Progressive Web App for editing multiple photos at once. - GitHub - corbindavenport/photostack: Progressive Web App for editing multiple photos at once.

9- BitMappery

BitMappery is a powerful browser-based photo editing tool that enables you to edit your photos in a non-destructive manner. With its advanced layering feature, you can easily work on different elements of your photos without affecting the original image. Additionally, the software comes with customizable brushes that allow you to add stunning effects to your photos effortlessly.

The cloud storage integration feature of BitMappery is also a great addition, as it enables you to access your photos from anywhere, anytime, as long as you have an internet connection. With BitMappery, you can take your photo editing skills to the next level and create stunning images that will leave your audience in awe.

GitHub - igorski/bitmappery: Browser based non-destructive photo editor with layering, masking, customizable brushes and cloud storage integration for all your web based working.
Browser based non-destructive photo editor with layering, masking, customizable brushes and cloud storage integration for all your web based working. - GitHub - igorski/bitmappery: Browser based no…

10- Photoflare

Photoflare is an intuitive image editing software that caters to a wide variety of users, from beginners to professionals. It has been designed to provide a perfect balance between powerful features and a user-friendly interface, making it an ideal choice for anyone looking to edit and enhance their images with ease.

With Photoflare, you can enjoy a range of basic image editing capabilities, such as cropping, rotating, and resizing your images, as well as more advanced features like paint brushes, image filters, and colour adjustments. In addition, the software also offers a range of other advanced features such as Batch image processing that allows you to edit multiple images at once, saving you time and effort.

GitHub - PhotoFlare/photoflare: Quick, simple but powerful Cross Platform image editor.
Quick, simple but powerful Cross Platform image editor. - GitHub - PhotoFlare/photoflare: Quick, simple but powerful Cross Platform image editor.

11- Pixelitor

Pixelitor is an exceptional open source image editor that has a user-friendly interface and puts special emphasis on non-destructive editing. This unique feature allows you to make changes to your images without permanently altering the original data. This means that you can experiment and try out different edits without worrying about damaging your original image.

In addition to its fundamental editing features, Pixelitor provides an extensive range of more than 110 image filters, color adjustments, and text layers. The newest builds also include experimental support for even more powerful nondestructive editing using adjustment layers, smart objects, and smart filters.

Pixelitor is avaiable for Windows, Linux, and macOS.

Pixelitor
An open source image editor
GitHub - lbalazscs/Pixelitor: A desktop image editor
A desktop image editor . Contribute to lbalazscs/Pixelitor development by creating an account on GitHub.

12- Photostat

Photostat is a native image editor that is designed to cater to the needs of both amateur and professional photographers, as well as graphic designers. With its user-friendly and modern interface, Photostat is built on the reliable and efficient GTK and Vala technology, ensuring that it is not only open-source but also fast, powerful, and accessible.

Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned professional, Photostat offers a wide range of features to help you enhance and transform your images to the next level. From basic editing tools such as cropping and resizing to more advanced features like color correction and layering, Photostat has got you covered.

Moreover, with its constant updates and improvements, you can be sure that Photostat will always provide you with the latest and greatest tools for your photo editing needs.

GitHub - PhotostatEditor/Photostat: Open, powerful and accessible photo editing tool
Open, powerful and accessible photo editing tool. Contribute to PhotostatEditor/Photostat development by creating an account on GitHub.

13- Krita

Krita is an amazing professional painting program that is both FREE and open source. It is a platform that has been created by artists for artists, with the mission of providing the best and most affordable art tools for everyone, regardless of their skill level or financial status.

The program is specifically designed to cater to the needs of a wide range of people in the art industry, including concept artists, texture and matte painters, as well as illustrators and comic artists. With its versatile features and customizable interface, Krita makes the process of creating beautiful and captivating artworks a breeze.

Whether you are an aspiring artist looking to hone your skills, or a seasoned professional seeking a reliable painting program, Krita is definitely the way to go. With its extensive range of brushes, pencils, and other painting tools, you can create masterpieces that are truly unique and captivating. So why wait? Download Krita today and unlock your full creative potential!

14- Rawstudio

Rawstudio is an exceptional open-source program designed for reading and editing RAW images from digital cameras. With Rawstudio, you can effortlessly obtain the best quality from your digital camera by recording your pictures in RAW format. Unlike most image editing applications, Rawstudio has the capability to read this format.

Rawstudio's main focus is on enabling efficient review and fast processing of large image collections. In just a few hours, Rawstudio can process several hundred images and convert them into JPEG, PNG, or TIF images, providing you with outstanding results.

Rawstudio is the perfect tool to use as the first step in your image processing chain. After making overall image adjustments, you can use an image editing application for further work on your images. Keep in mind that Rawstudio is highly specialized in reviewing and processing RAW images and is not a fully featured image editing application.

Features:

  • Intuitive GTK+ interface
  • Full DNG Color Profile support
  • Batch processing
  • Tethered shooting
  • Various post-shot controls (white balance, saturation and exposure compensation among others)
  • Easy and flexible copy&paste settings between images
  • Develop images directly on storage card
  • Image tagging and sorting
  • Automatic lens distortion correction
  • Advanced noise reduction
  • Unique intelligent sharpening
  • Chromatic aberration and vignetting correction
  • Exposure mask
  • Cropping
  • Straighten
  • Fullscreen mode
  • Secondary monitor support
  • Image location independent
  • Automatic filenaming based on EXIF information
  • 32 bit float point precision image processing
  • Optimized for and SSE and SSE2 (detected runtime) and fully multithreaded
  • And much more...
GitHub - rawstudio/rawstudio: Rawstudio is an open-source program to read and manipulate RAW images from digital cameras.
Rawstudio is an open-source program to read and manipulate RAW images from digital cameras. - GitHub - rawstudio/rawstudio: Rawstudio is an open-source program to read and manipulate RAW images fro…

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