Video and photo editing applications have come of age. Better yet, the flood of available products from various software vendors is driving prices down and making it possible for just about anyone to perform the kinds of cool tricks formerly reserved for the pros.
Despite the increasing proliferation of photo and video editing apps for smartphones and tablets, the fact remains that Windows PCs and Macs are the powerhouse machines necessary for producing quality digital content. Here, you’ll find our list of the five best video and photo editing applications. Some are tailored to video and photo editing. Others just do one or the other. So choose accordingly. But make no mistake – these are the best on the market.
Adobe Photoshop Elements 13 & Adobe Premiere Elements 13
Adobe Photoshop Elements is all about photo editing. Premiere Elements is for those who want to create killer video content.
With the release of version 13, Photoshop Elements improves upon past editions through the addition of High DPI and Retina Display support. Photoshop also now gives you the ability to do things like add color pops to black and white photos, create photo mashups, and preview up to five effect variations before making edits. Premiere Elements now supports automatic video clip creation, faster performance, and new Guided Edits.
Adobe Photoshop Elements 13 and Adobe Premiere Elements 13 normally retail together for $150, although you may be able to get a sweet deal by taking advantage of occasional promotions that could save you $50. The bundle is compatible with Windows 10.
Corel VideoStudio Pro X8
Still among the great values in standalone video editing software, Corel VideoStudio Pro X8 incorporates professional features that you’d have to pay hundreds of dollars extra to snatch up. The latest edition includes a series of new, simplified effects not available with previous versions.
These new effects include updated overlay options, video masking, and freeze frame. Audio ducking is also supported in X8, which automates pro quality sound by balancing dialog and background audio.
The software also comes with enhanced 4K hardware acceleration that is said to perform 400 percent faster than Pro X7. Support for XAVC S is now offered, which enables resolutions up to 4K 3840×2160.
Unfortunately, as of this writing Corel VideoStudio Pro X8 is not yet fully compatible with Windows 10 – so if you’re running Windows 8 and need a good video editor, you may want to hold off on upgrading your OS. It’s normally priced at $80, but you can expect to pay a few dollars less during various promotions.
CyberLink Director Suite 3
CyberLink’s “value pack” offering, Director Suite 3 comes with powerful tools that can ably handle video, audio and photo editing. You can purchase and download its “perpetual version” or you can opt for a tri-monthly subscription edition. It bundles a handful of suites into a single package that you can either use independently or in conjunction with one another.
Director Suite 3 includes a handful of new applications including Power Director 13, Audio Director 5, Color Director 3, and Photo Director 6. You also get CyberLink Cloud Service, which gives you 20GB of online storage for your projects. If you buy the software outright, you get the cloud storage for one full year after purchase.
Some of the more snazzy additions to Director Suite 3 include 100 track multi-cam editing, enhanced video stabilization, transition and animated title effects, and an enhanced user-friendly media library. There’s a lot you can do with this program, including high level tricks like changing the color of a particular object in a video, using Color Director. There’s also support for XAVC-S 4K and HD video format.
Windows 10 users will be happy to learn Director Suite 3 is fully functional with every OS system from Vista (SP2) to present. The three-month subscription version costs $50. Normally priced at $300, you may be able to scoop up the “perpetual version” purchase for about $100 less during certain manufacturer specials.
Corel PaintShop Pro X7 Ultimate
Corel PaintShop Pro X7 Ultimate is a standalone photo editing program that rivals Adobe Photoshop in value and performance. It comes with a number of Photoshop-style features like layering and a Magic Wand with filter effects and photo management features, all of which are as easy to use as they are powerful.
Photo management capabilities include facial recognition and options to let you easily share individual photos or whole albums via social media channels. You can also catalog your photos using different criteria that enable you to search through your image database by people and places.
X7 Ultimate includes numerous added features not present in earlier editions of the software. One feature, called Perfectly Clear, lets you perform one-click image correction. Magic Fill lets you selectively erase objects in photos and replace them with matching backgrounds. Reallusion FaceFilter 3 offers an array of retouching tools. Also added are expanded choices in brushes and textures, in addition to stock backgrounds that can be used royalty-free.
Corel PaintShop Pro X7 Ultimate is compatible with all Windows operating systems up to 8.1, but as of this writing has not been updated for functionality with Windows 10. Retail cost is $99, but you can get it for about $85 from the developer’s website.
Pinnacle Studio 18.5
Pinnacle Studio 18.5 is a standalone video editor that blends video editing with DVD and Blu-ray authoring. It’s also among the most affordable and easy to use video editing software programs, ideal for beginners and advanced users alike.
A sleek media library enables easy video importation from your computer or other connected devices. If you’re a newbie to video editing you can take advantage of the drag-and-drop oriented movie maker. Likewise, experienced users can opt for the standard timeline for precision edits. A library of more than 1,500 effects that can be used for both 2D and 3D video creation.
There’s also a multi-layer editor that lets you combine as many as six audio and video tracks. A jog/shuttle wheel is also present, allowing you to scan forward and backward through your video frame-by-frame. Once you’ve completed your creation, you can unleash it to the world via a built-in sharing platform compatible with YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook.
Pinnacle Studio 18.5 costs $60 and comes with newly upgraded 64-bit performance. It runs on Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10.