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AI Photo Editing Vs. Manual Photo Editing

Can artificial intelligence really help you retouch photos, crop out backgrounds, and correct portrait lighting? In AI photo editing, algorithms mimic human intelligence. Powerful AI editing tools are based on neural networks which retouch images in seconds, far faster than a human editor could manage.

But manual editing has plenty of advantages too. While it takes more time, the depth and customization possible with manual editing far outstrip what is currently doable with AI—not to mention the human touch. In this post, we’ll take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of both types of photo editing to help you choose the right approach for your photos.

Advantages of AI Photo Editing

  1. You can edit in batches

If you have a new product launch or an event, you might need to edit large batches of images in a tight timeframe. That’s where AI-powered tools shine: you can apply effects like background removal or skin retouching to hundreds of images in the same amount of time. It would take to edit only a few by hand.

  1. It’s fast and easy

Even for single images, some manual editing tasks are tedious and time-consuming. Take creating ghost mannequins, for example: to create just a single product image, you need to edit a model or mannequin out of multiple images and merge them together into a single shot. AI tools can automate the whole process in a matter of seconds.

  1. It’s budget-friendly

AI editing is significantly cheaper than manual editing and can automate a large number of tasks in a single workflow. As an alternative to manual editing, it can be very helpful for new businesses and photographers on a tight budget with little time for editing tasks.

  1. It’s perfect for simple edits

AI-powered tools are incredibly effective at automating simple edits like cropping, color correction, and contrast correction. However, with recent advancements, AI can also be used for more complex tasks like background customization, ghost mannequin generation, fixing portrait exposure, and more.

Limitations of AI Photo Editing

  1. It lacks the human touch

AI photo editing depends entirely on machine learning algorithms. While these algorithms are highly sophisticated, at the end of the day there is much to be said for the human approach. A human editor will have far greater discretion and attention to detail.

  1. It can only do certain tasks

AI editing tools are generally optimized for specific tasks and may not be able to automate all the editing workflows you need for your photos. Some tools are better than others and some may require manual retouching.

  1. It can hamper your creativity

You might find that editing your photos with an algorithm takes some of the creativity and passion out of the process. If you enjoy bringing out the unique character of each image, manual editing may be for you.

Advantages of Manual Editing

AI Photo Editing Vs. Manual Photo Editing
  1.  You can do anything

There’s no limit to the level of creativity you can pour into your photos when editing manually. If you’re looking to dazzle your clients or create works of photographic art, AI is no substitute for a human editor.

  1. It ensures high quality

Quality control is essential for any photographer or editor—your professional brand relies on the consistency and polish of your work, so when you want to impress your clients, choose manual editing for far more control over the finished product.

3.    It’s easy to correct

If you’re not satisfied with the initial edits, you can easily redo or fix them. Depending on the AI tool, it may be more challenging to retouch your images manually if they have been edited via algorithm. With manual editing, you can always go back and make changes.


Manual editing isn’t going anywhere. At the end of the day, AI is still an imperfect substitute for a human editor. When your images are edited with AI tools, you have less control over the finished product and may have to settle for something less than perfect—although some modern AI tools, like autoRetouch, allow you to export PSD files so you can make changes to your own after the algorithm has edited your photos. 

AI editing still has its benefits, especially with recent refinements. Today’s AI-powered software is a real competitor for manual editing, particularly when you consider some of the following use cases:

i)   Scaling up post-production, with many images to process simultaneously

ii)  Automating time-consuming editing tasks

iii) Editing on a tight budget

iv) Bulk-editing photos on short deadlines

So while manual editing will likely continue to be the gold standard for photo editing for a long time, there are plenty of reasons why you might consider using AI tools to automate parts of your editing workflow and help you expand your business. There’s no wrong choice—it all depends on your goals, and you might find that a combination of both methods works best of all. We hope this guide will help you in identifying the perfect solution for you!