Results of the post-processing poll


A few weeks ago I started a new poll on what post-production software you use most often. If you want to add your vote you still can here. We have run this poll twice in the past, every two years, so it will be interesting to see if the results have changed at all from 2009, to 2011 to 2013. Let’s look at the current results first.

Results – what post-processing software is used most often in December 2013

With over 27,000 votes at the time of this summary the overwhelming winner was Lightroom with a whopping 42% share. Now let’s see how these numbers compare to 2011 and 2009.


Survey results from 2011

Interesting! Lightroom has certainly catapulted to the top in a big way:

  • Lightroom is up 10% from two years ago to 42% currently, that’s a huge chunk of users
  • Photoshop and Photoshop Elements combined are down from 34 to 30% (-4%)
  • Picasa is down 2%
  • Aperture is down 2%
  • Gimp down 1%
  • PaintShop Pro held steady at 3% share
  • iPhoto was down from 4% to 3% share
  • Other was constant at 5%

These results are from 23414 votes in the 2011 poll.


 Way different results from 2009!

According to Wikipedia Lightroom Version 1 was released in January 2007. Within two years (as seen below) it had taken almost 20% of the post-processing market share. Not bad! But compare those stats to the current one and Lightroom has become the clear front runner for photographers in the processing arena.

Quick comparison of the big two by Adobe

  • 2009 Lightroom had 19%
  • 2009 Photoshop (all versions of CS) had 36%
  • 2009 Photoshop including Element had 49%
  • 2013 Lightroom at 42%
  • 2013 Photoshop down to 19% (pretty much reversed)
  • 2013 Photoshop inc. Elements 30%

Most of the “also rans” stayed pretty steady in terms of their percentage, within a point or two. I’d say it’s fair to say that Lightroom has taken over in four short years and has become the “go to” software of choice for most photographers (amateur and professional).


Want to learn how to use Lightroom and get on board?

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Darlene Hildebrandt is an educator who teaches aspiring amateurs and hobbyists how to improve their skills through articles on her site Digital Photo Mentor, online photography classes, and travel tours to exotic places like Morocco and India. To help you at whatever level you're at she has two email mini-courses. Sign up for her free beginner OR portrait photography email mini-course here. Or get both, no charge!

  • Bill Young

    Interesting. Thanks for sharing past years’ results as well – helps to see the trends. I’d be very interested to see some polling on Photoshop CC acceptance. I haven’t drunken Adobe’s CC kool-aid yet, and I wonder how much of a voice in the wind I’ll be after a year or two…

  • Oddobber

    Interesting trends and thanks for putting that together. I have to note though, the poll asks for “most used” program, which could skew the results. I would be interested in a similar poll which asks us to check all that we use. I know many photographers use both Lightroom and Photoshop together. In my case Elements is the most used, but I frequently use a mix of Elements, Picasa, Gimp and Other (Infanview, ReMask, Photomatix, etc.) depending on the effects I want or ease of use. Or alternatively, data (if available) on total number of users for various programs for comparison.

  • KirkCheated

    Agreed. I do editing in Photoshop but I use Irfanview exclusively for batch resizing and renaming, mainly because I can do it in one step in Irfanview and it’s two separate processes in Photoshop. I also use Bridge to manage rating and metadata even though it’s clunky.I don’t think I’m alone in using multiple tools.

  • Michael Pez

    An article on the better freeware available would be good. You did’t list Lightzone, which is very good.

  • Prophet12

    I use PhotoScape. It’s free.

  • AndinoGil

    I think Photoshop is more skillful than the others.. Could the poll also mean that many photographers are taking the easy way out ?

  • JvW

    A mediocre photographer needs all the help s/he can get in post processing to make a bad photo fair to middling. Depending on photographic preferences of course, many like to get it right in camera, and actually do, with a minimum of post needed. That’s photography. The person who told you only Manual counts, only RAW counts, only spending hours on your Wacom tablet counts, gave you very bad information.

  • mkp

    Such an optimistic reply. Do you teach photography? You must be a narrow minded teacher.

  • Stephen Tyson

    Well Lightroom is better suited for folks working on several photos at
    the same time/ mass production. If most of my photos are slightly under
    exposed or I want to do something as adjust my color balance for 20
    photos in a shoot, LR is more practical than PS. I can go to the bottom,
    highlight all of them, paste the same settings, maybe my personal
    editing style, plus paste copyright info and a lot of details for the
    metadata. If you can do all that in PS and some of the others in about
    10 clicks of a mouse in few mins, let us know. Also, LR is pretty
    compatible with a lot of photographer portfolio friendly websites, has a
    lot of plug-ins for them, and so on. You can export an album straight
    to Facebook or a lot of the photo gallery platforms and portfolio sites
    out there. Lightroom deserves the spotlight.

  • JvW

    Someone thinks that a large number of photographers is ‘taking the easy way out’ for their choices, and you call me narrow minded?
    What I do for a living is of course irrelevant and your statement is just as baseless and puerile. See how easy it is?
    Photography is not a science, and there is no ‘easy way’ just as there is no ‘only way’. Everyone is free to arrive at the photos they are satisfied with in any way they want. And I’ll help them if I can, even if I don’t really appreciate their form of the art. Without judging.
    And I will continue to call out those who give wrong advice and insult others for the sake of their inflated ego.

  • Mkp

    My response was based purely on your post. To “judge” those who use post processing and your definition of “photography” makes it seem like it’s your way or the highway. Yes, maybe you have mastered your camera to the point where you don’t need to post process, but we’re in the digital era in case your behind in the times. EVERYONE has their way of helping others even if YOU might not agree, and to define photography in the only way you do photography is just wrong. Plus, I bet you have Lightroom or Photoshop right??

  • josealobato

    I miss DxO Optics Pro here. I recommend you try it.

  • freeopinions

    Until about the first of the year you could have had Photoshop as a single app subscription for $10 (U.S.) per month. The price included the Bridge and even Lightroom. Those of us who took advantage of it still pay $10 per month, but if you do decide to “drink the kool-aid” now or in the future it will cost you double.

    I don’t know how viable this Cloud thing is going to be in the long run, but for now, this is what it is, and it doesn’t cost me much more than doing the conventional upgrade every 18 months or so. I am an amateur photographer but I used Photoshop professionally in the past and hope to do so again as part of a larger business, so I really want the the latest enhancements. Time will tell if I stay on board or not, but it appears that Adobe was just pioneering what will soon be the norm. You’ll be in the Cloud, or you’ll be out in the cold.

  • arkhunter

    I guess that’s covered under Other.

  • The poll doesn’t account for people NOT doing any processing, keep that in mind

  • Bill yes I was interested in the trends also and while I have drunken the kool-aid as you put it, I know many that haven’t. Perhaps a future poll topic!

  • Yes that’s a valid point. For this purpose I used the same parameters on this poll as the previous ones for comparison sake.

  • Honestly, never heard of it. It would be included in “other”

  • I really like LR and have been using it since late 2012. Used to use Picasa earlier for cataloging my image collections / library and occasional color corrections were done in PS.
    What I really love about LR is the not so steep learning curve when compared to PS and one can have all the images in one single catalog for easy searching future reference, and the non destructive editing process.
    I started with Lr4.2 and recently subscribed to Adobe’s picture package available for $10 PM subscription.
    Still use PS for creating and merging Panoramas, HDR & image stacking for Macro Photography.

  • autre_pensee

    Forgot to include Darktable (it should be its own category, not other)

  • It is interesting to see, that Photoshop CC didn’t heavily influence the results. I would have expected more users to switch to Elements. Instead we see the trend from 2009 to 2011 continue into 2013 with
    Lightroom increasing its share with users from all other programs.

  • Keep watching in a few days we will have a review of Darktable coming soon! But if you look at the size of the “other” category it combines all other programs and is still only 5%. Darktable is just a fraction of that again, not really enough for it’s own. Maybe it will gain popularity.

  • LR can do it in one step also

  • #Indeed @darlenehildebrandt:disqus!

  • So, The Masters who made their adjustments in physical darkrooms, by burning and dodging (over and over, again)…They’re hacks? Not “real” photographers? hmmm

  • I use DxO Optics Pro. Why is it not part of the poll?

  • Nalanti Goosen

    I don’t massive editing with my photo’s I just tweak them a little and ACDsee Pro4 does the job for me. If I want to do some real editing I use Corel Photopaint simple because thats what I have. I would love to have Photoshop but I don’t have the money for it. The only reason I have Coreldraw is because it was given to me when a family friend upgraded and gave me their old Software.

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