Image Credit: Rawpixel via iStock
Like cameras, lenses, and other photography gear, the software that photographers need to process images isn't always cheap.
What's more, when you find a cheap suite of tools, it usually performs like a cheap suite of tools.
Every so often, though, you can find free software trials that give you access to extremely powerful photography tools, if even for just a week or month. But in that time, at least you can get a feel for the program and what it can do to help you create better images.
That, in turn, can help you make an informed decision about the software you need to buy.
With that in mind, here's 10 of the best free software trials for photographers for 2018.
By Fred the Oyster [Public domain or CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
Yep, the king of photography software offers a seven-day free trial.
And don't think that the free trial is some sort of limited experience, either...
You get access to every tool and every function of the latest version of Photoshop CC.
Even better, Adobe has made the process of converting the free trial into a full-blown Creative Cloud membership a breeze either during or after the trial period.
By Adobe Systems [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Not to disappoint photographers that want to try Lightroom, Adobe also offers a free seven-day trial of that program as well.
Just like with Photoshop, the Lightroom trial gives you unfettered access to the complete and latest version of the software.
And, again, Adobe has made it easy to convert the free trial into a Creative Cloud membership during or after the trial.
What's more, if you decide to join Creative Cloud, you can get access to hundreds of Adobe videos on how to use Lightroom (and Photoshop, for that matter) for all skill levels of users. Nice!
Kizoa is a movie-making software platform that's been around since 2007, and offers photographers a quick and easy way to create professional videos.
Given that video content is king these days, it makes sense to dip your toes into videography if you haven't already.
What's great about Kizoa is that unlike many other software platforms, you pay a one-time fee and you're a member for life.
In fact, not only does Kizoa offer a free-for-life plan to get you started, but they also have a free iOS app as well.
Then, when you decide to upgrade, plans start at just $29.99. Not bad!
Creating gorgeous, well-exposed images has never been so easy with HDRsoft Photomatix.
Photomatix Pro, for example, gives you both a standalone program and a plugin for Lightroom to maximize its functionality.
The program also offers a wide range of settings, including one-click presets and batch editing to make quick work of your HDR creations.
Better still, the free trial never expires, so if you're good with the Photomatix logo appearing on your final images, you never have to pony up any money.
There are also versions for real estate photography, Linux, a plugin for Aperture, and more!
Corel PaintShop Pro 2018
Yep, the photo editing choice of the 1990s is still going strong in 2018 with fresh updates and a 30-day free trial offer.
With tools that are similar to Photoshop, PaintShop Pro offers a good level of functionality for enhancing photos and completing graphic design work.
Perhaps even better, there's no subscriptions attached to the software, so it's a much more affordable option than the Creative Cloud memberships offered by Adobe.
Plus, you can really dive deep into PaintShop Pro 2018 with that massive 30-day free trial!
Corel Aftershot Pro 3 RAW Photo Editor
If you're looking for an editing suite to tackle RAW photo editing in large quantities, you might give Corel's Aftershot Pro 3 a look.
With all-new tools, image presets, and plugins, Aftershot Pro 3 is a powerful platform for extracting all the color, contrast, and drama that your RAW files hold.
And, like PaintShop Pro, there are no subscriptions to worry about.
Corel also claims that Aftershot Pro 3 is up to four times faster than Lightroom, so that in and of itself might be worth checking out the free 30-day trial!
Skylum's Luminar 2018 is an award-winning editing suite for both PC and Mac.
Luminar offers an incredible array of tools, including 45 intelligent filters and 67 smart presets that help make editing photos a more streamlined and successful process.
And like Corel's products, you pay one time for access to Luminar and you're done - no ongoing memberships!
Luminar also works seamlessly with Lightroom and Photoshop, so you can easily switch between Adobe and Luminar for maximum photo-editing capabilities.
What sets Pixlr apart from other editing tools is that it's web-based.
And don't think that because it's web-based that it skimps on the suite of available tools and features...
Instead, Pixlr Pro offers tons of fonts, ready-to-use templates, and over 1 million stock photos, too, which you can browse during a seven-day free trial.
You can use layers, masks, brushes, curves, levels, and most of the other popular tools from the likes of Photoshop and Lightroom as well.
There is a free photo editor called Pixlr Editor, so if all you need is light editing tools, that's a great alternative (if you don't mind seeing ads as you work).
Hailed as a professional photo-editing suite, Affinity Photo might not get all the love that Photoshop and Lightroom enjoy, but it offers plenty of oomph for editing photos nonetheless.
In addition to having RAW editing capabilities and easy HDR tools, Affinity Photo also offers focus stacking, the ability to create panoramas, batch processing, .PSD processing, and even 360-degree photo editing.
You can clone, dodge, burn, liquefy, make lens corrections, and much, much more.
The 10-day free trial will give you plenty of time to explore all these tools, and more!
ON1 Effects 2018
Yet another worthy free photography software trial is the 30-day freebie offered by ON1 for their Effects 2018 software.
ON1 Effects 2018 includes hundreds of tools, including presets and filters, textures, and borders that help you fine-tune your images to create the final product you want.
You can create HDR images, convert color images to black and white, crop, straighten, reduce noise, and more.
If you like Effects 2018 and buy the complete version, you'll get access to training videos, online classes, and top-notch customer service, too.