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They're, in theory, quite similar to the best leather camera straps or mirrorless lenses, but rather than being add ons for a camera, they're software upgrades for Photoshop. Third party add ons for your Adobe Photoshop CC software, though already superior from immediate download, will only jumpstart your photographic experiences and make the editing process both productive and actually enjoyable. You can either add quality filters that give your library of pictures exponentially better lighting, tones and color, or change the very way you engineer graphic design templates. The following list of the best Photoshop plugins will only ensure your photos are superior and timeless, as will be the process of editing and creating said photos, as well.
There are literally hundreds of various add ons and plugins that can be bridged with your Photoshop CC software. All of them do, in some capacity, reinvigorate photos in different ways, whether it be through color, lighting, contrast, sharpening, or so much more. Some of the following best Photoshop plugins can even enhance your overall productivity, in which case making your photographic editing and graphic design projects that much more immersive while still being relatively simple to create.
Nik Collection by DxO
The once Google-owned Nik Collection gives downloaders a host of options to choose from when working with elements of photography. Think of it as a plugin of plugins, one that's not only filled with really neat tools, like the Silver EFEX Pro plugin or Viveza, but is also completely free.
DxO's prominent plugin is a dream come true for most photographers, and is easily one of the best Photoshop plugins you can add to your software right now! It's also relatively simple to use, and doesn't lead you to wasting valuable time merely looking for the on-board gadgets it houses; rather, plugins and tools are accessed via a drop down menu, and can be seamlessly activated at any point during your projects. Especially for it being a free Photoshop plugin, Nik Collection should not be ignored if you want quality enhancements on your everyday pictures.
Ink by Chrometaphore
A host of seamless features gives you the ability to experience various Photoshop projects stress-free by utilizing the application's layered documentation component. It, too, is a free plugin, but Chrometaphore does accept donations if you're feeling generous.
Other specs under Ink's immersive add-on list include measurements, styles, labels, fonts, and a 24/7 support system that allows for instant onboard assistance a simple click away. Plus, Ink also keeps all of your documents in an organized and safe fashion, as to thwart confusion and misplacement, all of which add up to its ultimate inclusion among the best Photoshop plugins.
Exposure X3 by Alien Skin Software
Exposure X3 is an effects plugin for Photoshop that drastically optimizes your photos for extreme editing and filtering. Being that it's been in the works for almost 30 years now, it's no wonder Exposure is one of the best Photoshop plugins. It's almost like an extension manager, similar in concept to Nik Collection, despite their relative differences in onboard features.
There is so much you can do on this simple add on that I wouldn't be able to fit all of the features in this short time. For starters, your projects and designs are greatly organized, plus you get the added benefits of the RAW photo editor, black and white processing, portrait touching, non-destructive layers, and so much more. It also seamlessly connects to the creative cloud for an even more freeing experience when producing enhanced Photoshop edits and designs, making your jobs that much more immersive.
Fixel Contrastica 2 by CC Extensions
Available for both Windows and Mac, Fixel Contrastica 2 powered by CC Extensions brings you the most quality performance and output when it comes to editing the contrast of photos and videos. Don't let it fool you though, this plugin doesn't simply have one primary use.
Contrastica can also be used for high precision, fine tuning photographs with innumerable qualities, such as sharpening, fixing shadows, after effects add ons, highlighting, and so much more. It's one of the best Photoshop plugins simply because it's got all the necessary ingredients for photo editing packed into one extensive download. Get it today for as low as $30!
Filter Forge 7 by Filter Forge
Filters are a photographers' best friend. While they may not have professional standing in some circles of the photography world, i.e Instagram's lackluster phrase driven to bed by overuse "#nofilter," they still ring true to bringing exceptional photo editing and will oftentimes make your photographs look ten times different, if not completely altered to look their utmost best under any lighting.
As such, Filter Forge 7 is one of the best Photoshop plugins. There are well over 1,000 different Photoshop filters, in addition to many other textures that can make pictures pop like never before. This addition is also brand new, meaning there's a host of component upgrades that give it the extra boost needed in designing quality photo edits. Take a peak at their Filter Editor, which allows for seamless and optimized performance when creating the best galleries.
Fluid Mask 3.3 by Vertus
One of the many easy Photoshop hacks all photographers should know is masking, which is made exponentially simple and stress free thanks to Vertus' Fluid Mask plugin. This gives you the ability to cut and paste specific portions of one image in order to rearrange it on another. Seen most recently in the evolution of the meme, this add on for masking is by far one of the best Photoshop plugins.
Despite its $100 price tag, Fluid Mask 3.3 gives you a long list of added features, like edge finding and blending, autofill with delete functionality, and optimized segment organization. It not only makes photo editing a breeze, it can also give you Adobe Photoshop CC projects a preferred boost in quality.
Eye Candy 7 by Alien Skin Software
Another addition to the best Photoshop plugins is Eye Candy 7, which is a Photoshop editor and realistic effect generator that can add quality and personality to your photo editing process. As they put it, "You provide the inspiration. Eye Candy will get you there."
This is a massive index of a variety of filters that can be easily accessed in a preference panel, then adapted and modified to your images for the most intuitive results. Their onboard navigator also makes finding presets a relief in the congested world of photographic editing. They literally tell you in the sign-up page that there are "zillions of effects," which is saying something, but that also means you're not going to be bogged down by all of these various filters. You'll be able to choose from the ones that best suit you at a fraction of the time spent on competing plugins.
Luce 2.0 by Antonino Perricone
To drastically bring quality and performance to your images' lighting, utilize the functions inherent in Luce 2.0. Now, you don't need the best computers for photo editing, you can use this awesome Adobe Photoshop plugin, which helps to enhance lighting, but also gives credence to some other features, like sharpening, contrast, shadows, plus black and white rendering.
While it may seem rather third party, Luce certainly boasts some top notch performances. It's quick, easy to use, and doesn't waste your valuable time when attempting to figure out its many components. Redefine imaging like never before with one of the best Photoshop plugins, Luce, and illuminate your software's optimization.
Knoll Light Factory 3.0 by Red Giant
Much like Luce, but drastically more advanced with an absurd amount of additional features, Red Giant's Knoll Light Factory gives photo editors and graphic design artists an immersive kit of tools that can redefine their projects. For adding quality, futuristic designs and an even more advanced system of editing, the Knoll Light Factory is one of the best Photoshop plugins. We're talking 3D lens flares for motion graphics and other cool effects.
Images are rendered seamlessly with a photo-real feature, giving high performance editing a whole new name. Plus, with mograph and VFX, you'll be able to change the way you take videos, too! The intuitive lens editor makes the use of image tools that much more plain and simple. The full product costs $200, but for what you're getting, it's definitely worth it.
Blow Up 3 by Alien Skin Software
While Photoshop may have its own zoom-in components and utilizes some very powerful enhancing mechanisms for amazing quality even on preset features, no other zooming editor is as simple and powerful for images as can be said for Blow Up. It's one of the best Photoshop plugins and can make image enhancement, zoom, and definition that much simpler and easily accessed at the click of a button.
This Alien Skin Software product helps image editors bring pictures and designs to the forefront of their project. For instance, a massive landscape photo of your friend atop a mountain can be dramatically optimized and given crystalline pixelations so as to clearly zoom in and see said friend without opting for a poor, grainy image quality.
Composer by Jason Foral
This free Photoshop plugin is perfect for the busy and task-laden photographers with projects coming out of their ears. So as to avoid confusion, misplacement, and accidental destruction of your various projects, Composer helps you organize your image designs, name, and file layers in a more navigable menu, plus seamlessly updates layers as you progress.
It's one of the best Photoshop plugins, mainly because it expedites the process, dramatically improves performance output, and holistically changes the way you stack and organize your layers of projects without having to confide to Adobe Photoshop's unnerving menu design. Change the way you experience Photoshop by updating visibility, positioning, layer scales, and so much more with Composer.